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Swail Outlaws Robertson

Joe Swail caused yet another upset as he sensationally came from 3-0 and 5-3 down to oust world no.2 Neil Robertson in the last 32 of the International Championship.

Swail reached the last four at the Crucible in 2000 and 2001 - photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.

Swail reached the last four at the Crucible in 2000 and 2001 – photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.

The Northern Irishman displayed all of his usual grit and determination, the never-say-die attitude that has typified his entire career, to reverse his early deficit in a thrilling encounter.

Lacking a great degree of scoring prowess for large portions of the contest – although there were two tons from Robertson and four other half centuries between them – Swail’s battling qualities ensured that the clash was never wanting for extra tension.

A lot of frames went down to the wire, most of which Swail managed to get the better of his opponent and eventually it appeared to wear Robertson down.

A brace of 46 breaks in the final two frames presented the twice World Championship semi-finalist with a place in the third round.

Robertson’s exit wasn’t the only shock on the third day in Chengdu as Shaun Murphy was given a crushing 6-1 defeat by fellow Englishman Robert Milkins.

It adds to Scots John Higgins and Stephen Maguire’s demise while world champion Mark Selby and defending champion Ding Junhui have obviously already fallen by the wayside having lost out in qualifying last month in Barnsley.

Further seeds tumbled today with Barry Hawkins well beaten 6-2 by Mark Williams – a player he has never beaten – and Peter Ebdon demolishing Joe Perry 6-1.

In fact, 2002 world champion Ebdon is becoming a bit of a dark horse.

The 44 year-old has found form recently with two quarter-final appearances and a semi-final in the last three minor-ranking events in Europe and Asia, while he is the type of competitor who thrives under the pressure as a tournament reaches the business end.

Meanwhile, it was an ominous performance from Ronnie O’Sullivan as the five-time world champion reeled off three century breaks en route to a comprehensive 6-1 triumph over Anthony McGill.

One thing that has been noticeable over the course of the opening few days, other than the flurry of unexpected scorelines, has been the dreadful attendances in the arena.

Home favourite Ding Junhui’s absence obviously contributes to this but it’s not really a proper excuse given the often reported size of the competition.

O’Sullivan, unsurprisingly, was able to tempt a higher number of fans in to watch during his bouts but if the International Championship really wants to be considered the fourth major it will have to produce better atmospheres throughout than it has done so far this week.

The full draw can be viewed by clicking here.

Creator of SnookerHQ and a journalism graduate, David has been actively reporting on snooker since 2011. He has been published in national publications and has appeared on BBC World News and on talkSPORT radio as an analyst.