Shaun Murphy has not won a match this season and therefore goes into the Maplin UK Championship off the back of four successive first round defeats.
This is surprising because last season he only lost once in an opening round and was invariably involved in the business end of most tournaments.
His consistency led me to put him in my Eurosport fantasy team.
Once again, I have managed to curse one of snooker’s biggest names.
I expect Shaun to pull himself out of this slump sooner rather than later. He has had personal issues to deal with of late but has always been a relentlessly positive person and was in good spirits at AFC Telford last weekend where he took part in a penalty shootout during a promotional day for the UK event (hence the photo).
He plays Martin Gould in the first round. Martin works as a croupier in a London casino and were he to hit the jackpot against Murphy it would arguably be the biggest shock of the year.
All players have these spells in the doldrums. During the 2005/06 season, Ronnie O’Sullivan failed to win a match in a ranking event from October until April’s World Championship.
Mark Williams and Graeme Dott are good examples of players who have endured lean periods in recent times.
The key to ending them is confidence. However, confidence only comes from winning so it’s a vicious circle.
One good performance against Gould and Murphy’s season could receive a whole new lease of life.
On the other side of the coin, defeat would spell a major crisis point in his career.
His 2005 world title triumph was a surprise but it would be even more of a shock were he to slide down the rankings having seemed the most likely player in recent times to challenge O’Sullivan as the game’s dominant force.