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Mehta loses to England pro Walden and exits Indian Open

Aditya Mehta,

Mumbai: The home challenge in the Indian Open Snooker Championship came to a grinding halt after India’s lone pro tour card holder Aditya Mehta, runner-up in the first edition, went down 2-4 to third seed Ricky Walden of England in the second round here.

The 29-year-old Indian, ranked 50th in the world, was beaten 70(63)-0, 78-27, 77-13, 18-73, 0-76, 81-1 by the English world no. 8 in the 300,000 pound sterling world ranking tournament’s second edition late last night.

Mehta had lost to Ding Junhui in the title contest of the inaugural edition of the tournament held in October, 2013 at New Delhi, but this time around both of them failed to recreate that magic.

While Mumbai-born Mehta crashed out in the second round, Junhui, the world no. 4 exited last Wednesday after he was beaten 4-3 by highly talented left-handed wild card Thepchaiya Un-Nooh – who reached the last 16 yesterday – in round one.

On day one of the five-day event, six Indian wild cards led by national champion Pankaj Advani made an exit with only Advani and Dharminder Lily going down after a fight by losing 3-4 in the best-of-seven-frame matches.

Mehta had raised visions of another fairy-tale progress in the tournament when he scored his maiden win, after four straight losses against higher-ranked Mark King of England 4-3 (82-7, 60-17, 78-9, 25-104, 56-57, 45-76, 76-4) to enter the second round.

However, the 32-year-old Walden who had beaten Mark Allen 10-7 in the final of the International Championship in China last November, proved too wily and skilful a customer for the top Indian player who fought well from 0-3 to 2-3 before losing.

Walden, who has also won the 2008 Shanghai Masters and 2012 Wuxi Classic, jumped to a 3-0 lead by taking the opening frame 70-0 with a break of 63, the second at 78-27 with one significant run of 47 before pocketing the third at 77-13 with small breaks of 18, 26 and 32.

Not to be disheartened, Mehta stayed alive for the last 16 berth by clinching the fourth frame 73-18 with the help of small breaks – 34 being the highest.

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