Hitman Sets Sights on Second Title

Raj Hundal

Raj Hundal fired out a warning to his competitors, ahead of his defence of the PartyCasino.com World Pool Masters title this weekend and insisted: "I want to make more history."

Hundal became the youngest ever winner of the tournament when he defeated Rodney Morris 8-7 to clinch last year's title at the age of 23. No one has successfully defended their trophy in the 13-year history of the event but Hundal, now 24, wants to rewrite the record books.

He said: "I would like to become the first player to win it back-to-back - that would really mean a lot.

"It's a big thing to do and even the bookies have got me on a big price because they know no one has ever done it. But I love that as it pours petrol on the fire and gives me a point to prove."

This year's event, the 14th running of one of pool's most prestigious individual events, takes place from Friday to Sunday 16-18 June at the Hotel Zuiderduin, Egmond aan Zee, Holland.

The Masters is set to feature a number of tight matches with a high-quality field that includes numerous previous winners, former world champions and snooker stars Steve Davis and Ronnie O-Sullivan.

Hundal will be involved in the opening match of the competition as he is up against Japanese player Hiroshi Takenaka, who will be making his Masters debut. Despite winning the 2005 tournament, Hundal insists he will not under-estimate Takenaka.

"He is a great player and hard to beat," said Hundal. "I know a lot about him and we have both got a tough game.

"But I will not be very happy if I get beaten as I have been training religiously, two, three or four hours a day. I think I'm a better player now than when I won the event but everyone is improving and has a chance to win."

London-based Hundal, known as The Hitman, admits his life dramatically changed last September when he recovered from 7-1 down to beat Morris 8-7 in one of the finest Masters finals of all time.

"It was awesome, the best feeling in the world," said Hundal. "I had a rush of blood go through my body and I felt like a gladiator in the Colosseum.

"The way I played I feel I deserved to win and I don't think I was lucky. But I think it did surprise a lot of people as they didn't realise I was capable of playing at that speed.

"Nobody expected it but I was quietly confident as I had done a lot of practising. It was the best victory of my career, the biggest title I have won and winning it has had a massive effect.

"I went from nobody to somebody and represented Europe in the Mosconi Cup. Before I would phone up promoters trying to get into tournaments but now it's the other way around and they say "are you available?"

"It changed the course of my pool career. I have spent all my life playing this game and it would have been a mis-spent childhood if I had not won a major trophy."