|New Delhi, Oct 14: Even as the inaugural Indian Open World Snooker professional ranking tournament was inaugurated here Sunday, Liam Highfield became the seventh player to withdraw, handing India's Wild Card qualifier Dharmender Lilly a passage into the first round of the main draw where he will meet World No.2 Mark Selby.
The reasons for Highfield's pullout could not be immediately ascertained. He joined six others who have withdrawn from the pound 300,000 tournament, the richest snooker event to be conducted in India.
The others who had pulled out earlier were: World No.15 Allister Carter, Tony Drago, Yu Delu, Anthony Hamilton, David Gilbert and Kyren Wilson.
Queried about the spate of withdrawals, Chairman of World governing body Jason Ferguson said: "We have a strong process to deal with withdrawals, but players might have genuine reasons for pulling out such as health and family situations.
"However, the withdrawals of these seven players will in no way dilute the Indian Open. The world's best players are here."
Marking the inaugural ceremony was a one-frame exhibition shootout between World No.1 Neil Robertson and Aditya Mehta, with the Aussie star posting a century break with the ease of a maestro.(IANS)