Ace Indian cueist Pankaj Advani is set to quit professional snooker to concentrate on his first love billiards. He has confirmed that his appearance in the Indian Open and the World Championships will be the last.
Advani, after turning pro in 2012, has been shuttling between the two formats. But ending months of speculations about his snooker career, he made the announcement during a conference on Friday.
"It has been a constant dilemma to having to decide between billiards and snooker tournaments," said the 29-year-old.
"Somehow the dates are always close to each other or they clash, so again this time it was a tough call. Finally, I have reached a decision and that is, I will play the qualifiers for the Indian Open in Pune (from September 15-19), which means I am going to play the Indian Open and the World Billiards which happens immediately after. But before that I have to qualify in the qualifiers.
"If I am playing on Indian wild card, I have to let go my professional tour card, which means I would not be playing in that circuit anymore," he added.
Advani, who is currently ranked 57, has won 10 world titles in billiards and snooker. In 2005, he became the first player to complete a grand double by winning both the point and time formats in IBSF World Billiards Championship.
"I took this decision because I missed billiards and my family. I love to excel in both forms — billiards and snooker. And being away on the pro-circuit for about six to seven months does not allow me to play billiards, which I miss dearly," said Advani.
However, he noted that it was a tough decision to take and it would "hit" him not playing with the professional players anymore.
"It obviously means that I will feel a little nostalgic at the Indian Open when I see all the players compete and I'm playing as a non-professional and it will hit me then, that I'm not playing along with them anymore. But it is a decision I have thought hard over," he said.
Advani enjoyed and learned the sport from top professionals in England and said he might consider going back in maybe 3-4 years down the line.
Meanwhile, The Billiards and Snooker Federation of India (BSFI) has proposed Advani's name for Padma Bhushan, the country's third highest civilian award.
"The BSFI is proposing his (Pankaj Advani's) name for the Padma Bhushan," BSFI secretary-general S. Balasubramaniam said.