Joe Swail emerged from the snooker wilderness to knock fellow Ulsterman Mark Allen out of the German Masters in Berlin yesterday.
The two-times World Championship semi-finalist has been struggling to hang on to his place on the main tour but recaptured his form in fine style for a shock 5-3 win over the world number 11 from Antrim in the £250,000 ranking event.
“It was a brilliant win for me. When you look at how the last few years have gone for Mark and myself you could say it was a massive shock,” admitted the Belfast cueman.
“I’m absolutely delighted. It’s a win that has given me a lot of confidence because Mark is one of the best players in the world.
“Mark and I are very good friends and we practice a lot together. We had a chat afterwards about the match. We are fierce rivals on the table but whenever the cue is put in the case then that’s it. We get on great.
“Mark has a great future ahead of him while I’m closer to the back end of my career. But it was a nice reminder that I can still produce it.
“I have ground to make up after a spell in the wilderness.”
Swail and Allen shared the first four frames, with frame number five a real turning point in the match, the world number 45 nicking it after requiring snookers. Allen won the next to make it 3-3 before Swail wrapped it up by taking the following two frames.
Swail, back in action this afternoon with a place in the quarter-finals at stake, admitted: “It was difficult in the final frame because I haven’t been in that situation in a big match for a while so it was great to get over the line.
“If you have been away from the top level for a while you start to doubt that you still have what it takes.
“So this result proves to myself and others that the old lad can still play a bit!” laughed the 41-year-old.
“The more matches I win in Berlin and during the rest of the season the better it will be in terms of getting back up the rankings,” said Swail.
“A couple of months ago it was looking like I could slip off the tour and I don’t want to be in that situation again.
“It’s great to be back beating top players in big tournaments again. Through most of my career I have been competing at the top level. This win is right up there for me.”
Swail was unimpressed though with Ronnie O’Sullivan’s late withdrawal from the tournament.
He said: “We all have problems — it’s how you deal with them that’s important.”