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.

TV matches:
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)
BBC1: 1-4.30pm
BBC2: 4.30-5.55pm, 00.55-3.45am

Eurosport2: 1.30-6.30pm, 7-10pm


Sam said...

I'd rather of seen Ford v Allen than Selby - Walden tbh.
Sky have coverage of around 10 dartboards during the Darts UK Open. Shame no one can stick just one camera on one of the other tables...

Matt said...

wonder how higgins will cope today? what reaction he will get from the crowd. He might get booed, I hope he doesn't.

Can you do another section of 'Past Masters' Series or looking back at a classic snooker match?

Dave H said...

We do Past Masters in the magazine now.

Interestingly Higgins is unlikely to be introduced by the MC as he's second on and there will be other matches in progress at the time.

jamie brannon said...

Willie Thorne on Radio Five Live said that John Higgins got off lightly, and he didn't expect him to receive a standing ovation.

I am bemused as to why Maguire and Doherty have not been allotted a television table.

I would love a tape of that 1994 UK final, wonder if the BBC would be tempted by a cash offer!

Matt said...

It will be a good idea to do a look back at 'Classic Snooker Matches' what do you reckon?

Anonymous said...

Think Ford/Allen would be a much better faster attacking game than the boring Selby/Walden game.

Anonymous said...

Zero coverage for Europe in the afternoon....

Eurosport 2 is covering Bundesliga so only UK viewers can watch snooker. As always the Eurosport Player is unwatchable unless you enjoy the message 'buffering' (I have plenty of bandwith, the player really IS rubbish).

Poor me. But it should be possible to watch it live rather than check the scores afterwards.

No such luxury for mainland Europe.

Dave H said...

The snooker was going out in several countries but I guess not Germany

Anonymous said...

Obviously a sport such as football will take precedence over snooker, and with it being a snooker backwater like Germany, it comes as no surprise what Eurosport will broadcast.

Anonymous said...

Tomorrow night Is Cope v Trump on a TV Table ??

it should be with Murphy v Wallace in a cubicle.

Anonymous said...

Dave, can you confirm that Michaela Tabb is not officiating at Telford because of Mosconi Cup duties.


Anonymous said...

Well, it is not just Germany it is all countries except the UK (or at the very least Scandinavia).

I reserve the right to pout.

I have paid for Eurosport Player for many years even though it never works just because getting 20seconds here and there in between the buffering, loading and server malfunctions is better than nothing when you are a baize junkie.

Any room for me over there on the isles?

Anonymous said...

9.50,You could train to be a snooker referee.
You seem the perfect type for it.