The qualifying round for the inaugural Indian Open was staged over the last couple of days at the Doncaster Dome in England.
128 players were whittled down to 64 as two intense days of action took place ahead of the first staging of a professional event in India next October.
Some thought it was a contentious decision that the two Indian competitors on the circuit were not permitted to have their matches held over to the venue – which has been the case with several events in the past, most notably the Welsh Open.
With established tournaments like the one in Newport, the reasoning behind such calls may often appear unfair.
But as the Indian adventure is one that is just getting off the ground I don’t think anyone else on the Main Tour would have felt too much injustice had Aditya Mehta and Pankaj Advani’s encounters been held over to the venue stage.
Nevertheless, it didn’t matter in the end as both superbly got down to the business at hand to ensure that World Snooker didn’t find themselves with another headache to deal with.
Recent World Games gold-medalist Mehta was made to work hard for a 4-2 victory over China’s Xiao Guodong but his countryman Advani had no problems in dispatching of Matthew Selt 4-0.
It’s great to see them both qualify for their home event, especially as the pair of them come across as very likable characters who have each played extremely well in events at times over the past couple of seasons – firmly putting India on the pro snooker map where it had rarely, if ever, been before.
Hopefully their presence in the last 64, where Mehta will face former world champion Peter Ebdon with Advani taking on Marcus Campbell, will ensure that crowd support will be large from the outset in New Dehli.
Elsewhere in the preliminary round, it was another great day for David Morris, who continued to impress on his return to the pro scene after a 4-0 rout over Matthew Stevens.
Morris has won nine out of his 13 matches this season and is already well into the top 100 in the world rankings – rising more than 30 places.
The Kilkenny cueist’s veteran countrymen will be joining him on the flight over to Asia as Ken Doherty and Fergal O’Brien recorded 4-2 and 4-0 triumphs over Luca Brecel and Vinnie Calabrese respectively.
With the new format this year ensuring that all 128 players on the tour must come in at the opening round (for most ranking tournaments), it was inevitable that an array of big names would be sent crashing.
Former world champions Graeme Dott and Shaun Murphy were defeated by Thailand’s Ratchayothin Yotharuck and Robbie Williams respectively – the latter in a final frame decider.
Former world no.1 Judd Trump also lost 4-3, going down to China’s Zhang Anda, with Martin Gould being ousted similarly by Sean ‘The Storm’ O’Sullivan.
Jeff Cundy, an amateur making up the numbers following several withdrawals, whitewashed Mark King 4-0 while the elder statesmen of Steve Davis and Jimmy White were both excused 4-1 by opponents more than half their age.
The full list of results and draw can be viewed by clicking here.