Ken Doherty has appeared in three UK Championship finals without winning the title, although it was his misfortune to run into three of the greatest players of all time all at the top of their games.
Doherty’s first final came in 1994 against Stephen Hendry, who was still very much in his pomp.
Hendry made seven centuries in that final, a record for any match and one of the most remarkable performances ever seen on a snooker table.
Almost as remarkable was the fact he only led 6-5 at one point, which says a lot about Doherty’s resilience.
Hendry went on to win 10-5. The Dubliner’s next final came in 2001 when he was overwhelmed by an in form Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Again, the snooker produced here was simply sublime and Doherty seemed genuinely relived just to have won a frame.
His third UK final, a year later, was much closer and would serve as a portent for that season’s Crucible finale.
Doherty slugged it out with Mark Williams, who eventually prevailed 10-9.
In recent seasons Doherty’s ranking his slipped, although it’s to his great credit that he got himself back into the top 32 this season following a nightmare 2008/09 campaign in which his career looked to be seriously under threat.
These days he’s carving his way as a genial TV pundit and commentator for the BBC but Doherty still wants to be known primarily as a player and could cause Stephen Maguire a few problems in Telford today.
Maguire has a good record in the UK Championship. In the last six years he’s been champion, runner-up and a semi-finalist twice. He was also consistent in the PTC series and will be in the grand finals in Dublin next March.
But today he knows he is playing someone with vast experience and at home in the TV arena, although their match will actually be played away from the cameras.
Of the other matches, Neil Robertson needs to be careful he isn’t drawn into a grind against the methodical Rory McLeod.
Robertson has himself slowed down in recent years, finding a nice tempo, but must try and dictate the style of match. If he does he will surely win comfortably.
Defending champion Ding Junhui may find things a little trickier against Matthew Stevens, who has the carrot of a top 16 place up for grabs if he does well this week.
Stephen Lee hasn’t beaten John Higgins for nine years but, of course, the Scot is playing on TV for the first time since the World Championship and may be a little nervous, though his strength of character is such that this shouldn’t make much difference.
Ricky Walden needs to start beating the top players regularly if he is to climb the rankings and become a consistent force.
He lost to Mark Selby on his Crucible debut in 2009 but beat him on the way to winning the 2008 Shanghai Masters title.
Graeme Dott v Martin Gould has the potential to be a very entertaining match, but it isn't on TV.
The BBC will show both tables on the red button (one on Freeview) and on their website.
Eurosport will have coverage of both tables most days on its two channels and will also show the tournament on the Eurosport Player.
12.30pm and 7pm: Ding Junhui v Matthew Stevens; Mark Selby v Ricky Walden
After 2pm: Neil Robertson v Rory McLeod; John Higgins v Stephen Lee
TV times (UK time)
BBC2: 4.30-5.55pm, 00.55-3.45am
Eurosport2: 1.30-6.30pm, 7-10pm