Life just keeps getting better for Belfast's Joe Swail.
After a long spell in the snooker doldrums that saw him slip from the game’s elite down to number 45 in the world, the Belfast cueman has rejuvenated his career with two stunning victories in the German Masters in Berlin.
Swail yesterday followed up his win over fellow Ulsterman Mark Allen by beating 2005 world champion Shaun Murphy 5-2 to secure a showdown with Marco Fu in today’s quarter-finals of the £250,000 ranking event.
“I am really buzzing at the moment — it has taken me right back to the great days at the Crucible,” said Swail, a World Championship semi-finalist at the legendary Sheffield venue in 2000 and 2001.
“It is a feeling that I haven’t had in a long, long time.
“Beating Shaun Murphy is another big scalp,” said Swail, whose most notable recent achievement was reaching the final of the 2009 Welsh Open.
And the 41-year-old is approaching today’s best of nine frame quarter-final against Fu — who beat Antrim star Allen in last month’s Masters semi-finals at Wembley Arena before losing to Ding Junhui in the final — with confidence.
“When you beat Shaun and Mark Allen, two of the best players in the world, you don’t need to fear anyone.
“It’s just a matter of getting into the right mindset for the match against Marco Fu.
“At this stage of my career, there may not be too many more opportunities like this,” he said.
And Swail puts some of this week’s success down to the atmosphere at the Tempodrom in Berlin, venue for the inaugural German Masters.
“I have really been responding to the big crowds that have been watching us.
“The venue reminds me of Goffs in Kildare which used to host the Irish Masters and was a great arena for snooker,” he said.
Swail will meet Fu today after the Hong Kong player received a bye into the quarter-finals in sad circumstances, his opponent John Higgins pulling out due to the death of his father.
Swail said: “I was so sad to hear that John’s father had died because I knew John senior very well and I will really miss him.
“I have spent a lot of time in the company of John and his father and we have enjoyed some good nights out together.
“John senior used to come to all the tournaments before he fell ill.
“It’s very, very sad news and my thoughts are with John and his family.”