Snooker: Swail kicks at 'joke' table

The game's authorities came under fire again yesterday when Joe Swail described the table as an "absolute joke" after losing 10-5 to Matthew Stevens in the first round of the world championship here in Sheffield.

"Only one thing sums up the match and that's the table," said Swail, a two-time semi-finalist here. "I have been a professional for 15 years and it's about time they sorted it out. There was a 'kick' every other shot and balls were rolling off into the middle pocket. I'm disgusted with the table. When you're trying to win a frame the last thing you want to worry about is a 'kick'."

Swail stressed that his outburst was not meant to detract from Stevens' performance which included three centuries.

Stephen Hendry, the seven-time champion, continued his poor run of form, falling 6-3 down to Nigel Bond after their first session. The Scot only made a sizeable contribution in the first and last frames of the night, with 46 and 52. Bond, beaten by Hendry in the final 11 years ago, was solid and will fancy his chances of an upset today.

Ronnie O'Sullivan looks set to end his dismal run after hitting form against Dave Harold. O'Sullivan compiled two centuries including a 139, the highest of the tournament so far, in opening a 7-2 lead, Harold taking the last two frames of the session to avert the chance of a whitewash.

The first session between Marco Fu and Alan McManus was dour fare yesterday and had to be ended two frames early due to slow play with Fu leading 4-3. In the evening session though Fu won six in succession to prevail 10-3.

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