Mandalay (Myanmar): India's top cueist Pankaj Advani defeated England's Mike Russell 5-2 to enter the final of the IBSF World Billiards Championship here on Saturday.
In a clash of the titans, the defending champion Indian prevailed over the multiple time world champion Briton in the semifinal match. Russell had lost at the same stage last year to settle for a bronze.
Advani, who is vying for his 22nd world title, will face local player Nay Thway Oo in the summit clash in a repeat of last year's tournament.
Thway Oo had beaten Russell in the semifinals last year before losing to Advani in the final.
In Saturday's semifinal against Russell, Advani scored three back-to-back centuries but managed to convert only two of those frames as the Briton took advantage of the Indian's error on 142 and made a 150.
The match was evenly poised at two frames a piece and could have gone either way. But Advani appeared to be on a mission as he made breaks of 63 and 123 in the last three frames to race to a 5-2 victory.
"I'm really pleased to enter the final again a year later. Mike played well so I knew I had to bring more firepower to the match to give myself a chance to defend my title. This feels like deja vu playing Oo again, that too in the final and in Myanmar two years in a row. Let's hope the outcome is the same too," Advani said.
In the other semifinal match, Thway Oo overcame India's Sourav Kothari 5-3.
After taking a 3-1 lead, Kothari made a spirited comeback to level the match 3-3. However, the Myanmar star had other plans. He clinched the final two frames by firing in an unfinished 150 break followed by a 130 break to seal his spot in the final.
Pankaj Advani (India) defeated Mike Russell (England) 5-2: 150(114)-117(59), 142(142)-150(150), 152(118)-122(122), 45-151(74), 152(63)-142(85), 151(123)-96(66), 151-61.
Nay Thway Oo (Myanmar) beat Sourav Kothari (India) 5-3: 151(65)-125, 151(93)-95(93), 21-152(152), 150(122)-77(68), 79(72)-151(83), 110(103)-150, 150(150)-0, 152(130)-0. (PTI)