Bengaluru, Nov 18: India's 12-time World Champion Pankaj Advani says he is "married to his game". He describes this year as a "crazy" one, having already pocketed 4 world titles. And now he has a chance to add a fifth in front of his home crowd when the IBSF World Snooker Championship gets under way here at Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium tomorrow (November 19).
Fresh from his history-making third 'Grand Double' of World Billiards (Points and Timed formats) in England, Pankaj is ready to give his best in front of his family and friends.
Ahead of the world event, which runs from November 19 to 29, the 29-year-old Pankaj spoke exclusively to OneIndia about his game, world tittles, the big event in Bengaluru and his marriage.
Here are the excerpts
Question: Soon after you won the World Billiards Championship titles, Geet Sethi said you are a "work in progress" and still have 20 more years of top-flight billiards. Do you agree?
Pankaj: I am definitely a work in progress, I will agree to that. As far as the number of years are concerned I don't know for how long I will be playing the game. I am enjoying every moment of playing, enjoying every victory and success. And I am enjoying the fact that I am improving as a player. For me that is more important. Beyond a stage winning and losing does not matter. But I think, more than that it is excellency, fluency and becoming one with your profession that really becomes your goal. For me, that is the goal right now.
Q: When you started your career, did you ever imagine that you could have 12 World titles before the age of 30?
Pankaj: Never ever imagined that. It was such a big thing for me and still it is. It is just that I have sort of built myself stronger and to treat it (World Championship) as just another tournament rather than make it a big deal in my head. Because if you make it a big deal, sometimes the pressure gets to you. I have learned how to calm myself. I never imagined that I would win so much, at the start of my career.
Q: Playing at home in the World Snooker Championship, is it an added pressure on you?
Pankaj: There are a lot of expectations especially given the form that I have been in, this season. And I don't know, to be honest, if I will be able to repeat such a year. It has been a crazy year for me. I will enjoy the support from the home crowd. At the same time I know there will be a lot of expectations. I have to take the best of the support and put the expectations part away.
Q: By the time you finish your career, how many world titles will you end up with?
Pankaj: To be honest, I am not a numbers person. Never get into these statistics. That is for the followers of the game to bring out the records. It feels great to create history. More than that it is just the joy that I get out of playing this game. It takes me to another world when I am playing. It is lovely to have two worlds and live in both of them.
Q: Tell us about the role of your mother and brother in shaping your career?
Pankaj: They have been great supporters. They have allowed me to grow as a human being rather than tell me what I should do. Shree is a great sports psychologist.
Q: Any plans of marriage?
Pankaj: No girl as yet. Maybe a couple of years from now. Right now I am married to my game.