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Joe Swail reaches third round of BetVictor Northern Ireland Open

Joe Swail beat Nigel Bond to reach round three of the Northern Ireland Open at the Waterfront
Martin McGoran

JOE Swail has picked a good week to produce his best run at a ranking event since August of last year.

The Belfast man takes on Israeli-born Scot Eden Sharav this morning (10am) for a place in the last 16 of the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open at the Waterfront in Belfast after beating veteran Englishman Nigel Bond 4-2 yesterday.

It was a scrappy affair with no breaks over 50 but Swail, now ranked number 92 in the world, and the home fans won't mind one bit, especially as the home players had enjoyed such a disappointing first few days at the Belfast venue.

“I knew it would be a tough game today,” said Swail.

“Myself and Nigel play a similar sort of game. It was scrappy, but a win is a win. I haven't had a good couple of years, but I'm enjoying the game now and not expecting too much, so I will take these two wins and hopefully build on them.”

Like Mark Allen, Swail admits that he doesn't enjoy the pressure of playing in front of his home crowd.

“I can relate to what Mark says about that. Even the players from the south feel it a little bit differently when they come here.

“I don't really enjoy playing here because of the pressure. I don't want to let the fans down and spend a lot of the time being afraid to miss.”

Reigning champion Mark Williams fell at the second hurdle yesterday, beaten 4-3 by Ali Carter. The Londoner now faces Xiao Guodong this morning, with the winner facing the winner of the Swail v Sharav game when round four begins later on today.

Tournament favourite Ronnie O'Sullivan dropped his first frame of the week, and also hit his fourth century, in his 4-1 win over Mei Xi Wen, which sets up a third round clash with Tom Ford, but even O'Sullivan was trumped in the scoring stakes by two of his big rivals – Judd Trump and Mark Selby.

Bristolian Trump hasn't done well here the past two seasons but breaks of 137, 55, 53, 51 and 69 show that he's in good enough form to put that right, as he allowed Stuart Carrington a mere 54 points in their second round match. He could, though, face a potentially tricky third round test against Jack Lisowski.

Selby, meanwhile, won a tight first frame against recent first-time ranking winner Jimmy Robertson but won the next three with breaks of 128, 127 and 90.

Matthew Stevens progressed past Belfast-born Londoner Gerard Greene 4-1, while Stevens' Welsh compatriot Ryan Day went the distance to get past Zhang Anda, as did Neil Robertson and Peter Ebdon against Kurt Maflin and Lee Walker respectively.

n Results below

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