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Battling Swail's fairytale run coes to an end in York

By Frank Brownlow

Joe Swail's dream of landing the Betway UK Championship may be over - but the Belfast cueman believes he has plenty to offer at the elite level for a few years to come.

Swail - at 46, the oldest player left in the £750,000 tournament - was going for a fourth successive win in York last night but came up short against Martin Gould, losing 6-3 to the world number 24 from Middlesex.

Swail slipped out of the professional ranks in 2012 but battled back and is now playing some of the best snooker of his career.

Not bad for a man who reached two World Championship semi-finals way back at the turn of the century.

"I am back enjoying my snooker again and really looking forward to the rest of the season," said Swail, who has two important assignments before Christmas, with the qualifiers for both the German Masters and the World Seniors taking place in Wigan.

Last night's match against Gould was scrappy in the opening exchanges until the Englishman fired in a 131 break to move 3-2 ahead.

Gould eased 5-2 clear, Swail won the next but could not mount what would have been a stunning

Gould will play world number 81 David Grace in tonight's quarter-final.

Whoever comes out on top will face either Liang Wenbo or Marco Fu in tomorrow's semi-finals.

China's Liang set up an all-Asian quarter-final against Fu by beating Tom Ford 6-5.

Liang, whose only ranking final came at the 2009 Shanghai Masters when he lost to Ronnie O'Sullivan, said: "I'm very happy. Tom played well and made a very good clearance to go 4-2 up.

"There was a lot of pressure but I kept playing and did well. I really concentrated in the last three frames, my head was good. I'm looking forward to playing Marco, we are good friends and we both enjoy the game."

Neil Robertson produced his best performance of the season to beat Stephen Maguire 6-1 and set up a showdown with John Higgins, 6-4 winner against Jamie Burnett.

Robertson won the Champion of Champions last month and is clearly in the mood to make it back-to-back titles and double his tally of UK crowns having lifted the trophy in 2013. He has now been made 15/8 favourite for the title by sponsor Betway.

The Australian's scoring power was in evidence as he fired three centuries and finished the match with a 97 percent pot success rate.

In fact it was Maguire, the 2004 UK Champion, who started the match on the front foot with a break of 118 to take the opening frame. But the Scot spent most of the remainder of the match in his chair as world number three Robertson compiled runs of 126, 76, 101, 55 and 113.

"That was definitely the best I have played this season, without a doubt" said world number three Robertson. "I played great but I knew I had to.

"It's easy to say I'll win the tournament playing like that but in the Masters last season I played a similar standard against Ali Carter and Ronnie O'Sullivan. But then I took my foot off the gas completely in the final and lost 10-2 to Shaun Murphy.

"I need to maintain my focus and keep the foot down now."

Belfast Telegraph


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