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Joe Swail has high hopes of gracing semi-finals

By Frank Brownlow

Joe Swail's route to glory at the Betway UK Championship in York has opened up nicely thanks to David Grace's 6-2 victory over former world champion Peter Ebdon.

Swail takes on Martin Gould in the last 16 tonight with the winner facing the world number 81 for a place in the semi-finals of the £750,000 tournament, the most important in the sport bar the World Championship.

The Belfast cueman - at 46 the oldest player left in the tournament - had been in line for a showdown with Mark Allen, but the Antrim potter slumped to a surprise 6-4 defeat at the hands of Gould.

Swail's long career seemed to be winding down when he slipped off the main tour in 2012 but he battled back and has been a revelation in York, racking up three straight victories.

"I'm playing with a smile on my face and I don't care whether I win or lose, because when I put pressure on myself it stops me playing my natural game," Swail explained.

Leeds cueman Grace is through to the last eight of a ranking event for the first time and is guaranteed a career-biggest pay-day of £20,000. The 30-year-old only won one match last season and has to supplement his income by cleaning tables at the Northern Snooker Centre.

"A week ago I was playing my first match trying to win £4,000, now I'm on £20,000," Grace commented.

"Events like these can change your life very quickly - I've just not done it before now. And hopefully I'm not finished yet."

"Every match I play here is the biggest of my career.

"I've been around a long time and done nothing so I was due a run. I was a bit lucky in the first few frames, I fluked a few. That's what happens when you're having a good week, and you still have to take advantage. I just kept calm and had a good frame of mind."

Grace is also a talented artist who sells portraits of snooker players, and was asked by the BBC for a sketch of Ebdon during a filmed feature.

"I was under more pressure drawing him than playing him," he joked.

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