Snooker: Walker seals hard-fought win

Joel Walker beat Pankaj Advani in the first round of the Welsh Open.

Joel Walker beat Pankaj Advani in the first round of the Welsh Open.

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Joel Walker is through to the second round of the Welsh Open after a hard-fought victory over close pal Pankaj Advani.

The 19-year-old, who regularly practices at Fulwood Sports Centre with former Crucible finalist Nigel Bond, claimed the opening frame after a clearance of 52 at the Newport Centre.

Advani responded and the next four frames were shared. All the momentum was seemingly with Indian cueman after he snatched the sixth to make it three apiece. But Walker held his nerve in the decider and a 55 break helped him over the line yesterday.

“It was a tough match so I’m just happy to have got the job done,” he told The Star. “I’m pretty good friends with Pankaj so it was nice to get through.”

Walker returns to the table on Monday when he goes head-to-head with world number 13 Mark Davis.

“I’ve never played Mark before but I’m just looking forward to it,” he said. “He’s a very good player so it will be a tough game.”

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