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Snooker ace Yasin Merchant calls it a day

In his last career match, Merchant went down in the round of 32 at the IBSF World Snooker Championship.

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Updated:December 1, 2011, 8:14 PM IST
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Snooker ace Yasin Merchant calls it a day
In his last career match, Merchant went down in the round of 32 at the IBSF World Snooker Championship.
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Bangalore: Yasin Merchant, the 45-year-old cueist from Mumbai, ended his 30-year career as a top notch snooker player here on Thursday, but was denied a fairytale ending that at one stage looked likely as he went down 4-5 to Australia's Steve Mifsud in the round of 32 at the IBSF World Snooker Championship.

"I feel empty," were Merchant's opening words at an impromptu media interaction after the match that saw him post a brilliant 127 clearance besides three half-century breaks as he fought back from 1-3 and 2-4 before bowing out.

"I had a good, long cry in my room, for it was a very emotional moment. To think that I will not be playing another top-level snooker tournament is unbelievable. I guess my decision to retire is still to sink in."

Two Asian titles 11 years apart, in 1989 and 2001 when he came out of self-imposed break from the game, accurately reflected his ability to switch off and on, but this time around, Merchant asserted that he was quitting for good.

"It is tough because I still feel I have a lot of snooker left in me, but when I wake up in the morning and go to work, I realise that I cannot spare any more time for the sport. I have spoken to my family and close friends and they all agree that my time is up as a player. So I guess there is no going back now," said Merchant who once attained No. 65 in World rankings.

"I think that is one regret I have to learn to live with. Had I continued on the professional circuit, I could have got into top 16. I was at peak then, but I am a family man. I wanted to see my two children grow up as they were born around the time I turned pro. Also, it is quite lonely out there on the pro circuit," he said.

Merchant, who represented India and won medals at the 2002, 2006 and 2010 Asian Games, wondered at the "fateful coincidence" that his snooker career should end at the very venue, the Karnataka State Billiards Association, where he first made a mark as a junior in the mid-1980s when he scalped the then top player BV Srinivasa Murthy 6-5 after trailing 0-5.

"That victory really set me up in the game and yes, that's where it all started and that's where it has now ended. It was also at the KSBA back in 1991 that I beat one of the top professional Danny Fowler 5-2 en route to the semi-finals in the Gold Flake Open. It convinced me to turn professional the following season. Yes, I have such happy memories of KSBA," said a nostalgic Merchant.

Looking ahead to post-retirement life, Merchant is awaiting a stint as a national coach pending an official confirmation from the Billiards and Snooker Federation of India (BSFI).

"They have agreed orally and I am awaiting confirmation in writing. There is a lot of talent in the country, but the youngsters need guidance and counselling. I would be only too happy to provide assistance," he said.

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