CRUCIBLE title-chaser Stephen Maguire used to believe the hype that he was a future world champion in the waiting.
But after eight unsuccessful attempts to win snooker’s biggest prize the ambitious Glaswegian is adamant he is now ready to live up to his star billing.
Maguire kicked off his Betfred.com World Championship semi-final showdown with Englishman Ali Carter yesterday.
And having slipped 5-3 down after the first session of their best-of-33 frame marathon, the Scot admitted: “I heard people saying that I was a future world champion a few years ago – and I believed it.
“I believed in my own ability and it just never happened. Lots of people were tipping me to dominate, but it’s not easy. And the World Championship is not an easy tournament to win, there’s a lot of great players out there.
“It just hasn’t happened but hopefully this one or the next one I can get my name on that trophy.”
Self-doubt crept into Maguire’s game after he failed to hit the lofty heights he was tipped too having won the UK Championship, his first major title, in 2004.
Ronnie O’Sullivan backed the world No 7 to dominate the green baize game for years to come.
But in five of those previous eight visits to the Crucible Maguire had failed to even get past the second round.
“I did start to doubt myself that I could win this tournament,” said Maguire. “I lost a couple of close matches here when I was playing well and thought I could do a bit of damage.
“I lost 13-12 to Joe Perry one year after not missing a ball in the first two rounds. I was 8-0 up in the first two games I played and I fancied it that year - and all of a sudden I got beat in the quarter-finals in a deciding frame.
“You start thinking ‘Can I last 17 days, two weeks?’ but you just keep trying. I’m not going anywhere for a long time.”
Maguire resumes today to play two more sessions against Carter with a possible 16 frames to be contested before Saturday afternoon’s scheduled conclusion.
Latest score: Ali Carter leads Stephen Maguire 5-3, Ronnie O’Sullivan leads Matthew Stevens 5-3.
Today’s schedule, semi-finals (best-of-33 frames) - 10am: Carter 5-3 Maguire - max of 8 frames; 2.30pm: O;Sullivan v Stevens - max of 8 frames; 7pm: Carter v Maguire - max of 8 frames.