New Delhi: Aditya Mehta re-wrote cuesport history by becoming the first-ever Indian to reach the final of a professional snooker tournament as he overcame World No.5 Stephen Maguire from Scotland 4-3 in the semi-final of the Indian Open here Friday.
In the final scheduled for later in the day, Mehta, the 27-year-old from Mumbai and ranked 72nd, takes on World No.4 Ding Junhui of China who earlier outplayed Robbie Williams 4-1 and posting the tournament's highest break of 142 in the process.
Maguire, in his 15th season as a professional, fought for all his worth as he bounced back from 0-3 to 3-3, but a series of mistakes in the tense decider especially when he left the yellow in the mouth of the bottom right pocket when trailing by 16 points, cost him dear.
Mehta went on to take the yellow, green and brown, and then blue and pink after conceding a five-away in between to close the match leaving Maguire a frustrated man ruing the chances he gave and also blew.
For Mehta, who in the earlier rounds had scalped two World champions Peter Ebdon and Mark Williams, it was his third seven-frame marathon in five matches here, and yet again he displayed great composure when Maguire clawed back after losing three frames on the trot.
Mehta dominated the first half of the three-hour contest when he crafted a brilliant 132 clearance, his third century break of the tournament, as he shut out the Scot in the first three frames in which Maguire could not even score a single point.
However, the 32-year old Maguire, winner of five ranking tournaments, showed why he is ranked No.5 as he responded by taking the fourth, fifth and sixth aided by breaks of 68 and 61 to draw level at 3-3 only to falter in the decider.
Junhui, the 26-year old who is based in Sheffield, was a class apart as he took control of the match at the outset, racing to a 3-0 lead on breaks of 68, 59 and 142.
There was little that Williams, who has never got past the round of 64 on the pro tour, could do to contain the rampaging Chinese who has been in prime form this season, having climbed six places in the World rankings from 10 to four.
Although Williams, the 26-year old ranked 73 and in just his second year on the pro circuit, managed to take the fourth following a run of 67, Junhui swiftly hit back to close the match with a break of 64 in the fifth.
Semi-finals: Aditya Mehta (IND) bt Stephen Maguire (SCO) 4-3: 84-0, 137-0 (81), 132-(132cl)-0, 0-72 (68), 10-53, 6-67 (61), 67-45; Ding Junhui (CHN) bt Robbie Williams (ENG) 4-1: 111 (68)-0; 90 (59)-11; 146 (142)-0, 0-87 (67), 76 (64)-28.