There is not much left to achieve for 16-time world champion Pankaj Advani but the ace Indian cueist now wants to evolve into a player who can play with calmness and ease of tennis great Roger Federer.
The Bangalore-based athlete continues to churn out titles, be it at the world or Asian level, the latest one coming with Laxman Rawat and Malkeet Singh at the Asian Team Championship in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
It happens to be his first Asian team title.
Having achieved stupendous success in both snooker and billiards, he keeps getting asked the 'what next' question.
“The one I really want to do is play with more freedom. That is the key for me right now. I am in the middle of my best years so I want to make the most of it,” Advani told PTI after his arrival here.
“I want to enjoy it as well. The way Roger is going about his business in tennis. There is so much of calmness and ease in his game rather than grinding and trying to make it all happen. I hope I can play with that mindset,” he said referring to the tennis legend who beat the odds to win an elusive 18th Grand Slam title.
“The other thing I want to do is that I want to be able to manage my B and C game. You cannot play your A game all the time so how well you manage your off days determines how great a player you are.”
Talking about the title win, Advani said, “Snooker and billiards is an individual sport but to win a team title is very very special. Normally Iran, Pakistan and some European teams have a better track record of winning team titles. I tried on many occasions but it has finally happened.”
“Feels even more nice to do with guys who have come of age so to say. Laxman has performed exceptionally well over the last one year. And so has Malkeet,” he said.
Advani has been juggling with billiards and snooker ever since returning from the pro circuit in England. It is remarkable that he keeps winning in both categories at the highest level, though the task is not getting any easier.
“It is all priority as of now. Just like actors have urge to play different kinds of role. Similar I have the urge to excel in different formats. It is surely not getting easier. Everyone specialises in either snooker or billiards and I have been doing it in different formats. It is very very challenging.
“I know I am not going to win a lot of times (by playing both billiards and snooker) but that is the price I am ready to pay,” said Advani, who has no plans to return to the pro snooker circuit.
The win in Bishkek earlier this week attracted wide attention with cricketers and filmstars headlining the congratulatory messages.
However, Advani's tweet after the triumph did not go down well with a lot of people on social media.
“We are not demigods, we are not cricketers, we are Asian Team Snooker Champions,” the tweet read.
On Friday, he clarified on the controversial post.
“It was a tongue in cheek comment. Sometimes people have to lighten up. I did not mean to single out cricketers. In fact the response we have got this time has been overwhelming. Ironically so many cricketers appreciated us as well. The last thing I want do is disrespect athletes of other sports,” he said.