STEPHEN Maguire is fed up being a nearly-man and has his sights set on returning to the top of the game ahead of today's second-round clash at the UK Snooker Championships in York.
The Glaswegian potter won the title, the second most prestigious on the calendar behind the worlds, back in 2004 at the tender age of 23.
But with no ranking tournament victory on his CV since 2008 when he won the China Open, Maguire has found himself on the outside looking in at the major tournaments in recent years.
A semi-final berth at the worlds this year, where he lost to eventual runner up Ali Carter, and a quarter-final spot at the UKs a year ago, are as close as he has come in the blue-riband events on the calendar.
And with Stuart Bingham his opponent in the last 16 on Tuesday after an impressive first-round win over Fergal O'Brien, the 31-year-old admits that the time for excuses is over.
"It feels longer than eight years since I last won the UKs," he said.
"I tapped the door a couple of times last season, a couple of semi finals, but they mean nothing. Unless you get to a final and win, you are a loser. It's brilliant when you get in a groove like I did the other night against Fergal.
"I knew I had been cueing okay, but I didn't think I would play like that. It isn't very often you get that feeling, but I enjoyed it."
Also in action tonight is ex-world champion Graeme Dott, who snuck through his first-round match against Martin Gould 6-5.
And for Dott, the current world No.12, it is a case of onwards and upwards when he takes on another former world champion in the shape of Shaun Murphy for a place in the quarters.
"Sometimes I win matches like that when I am struggling," he said.
"The positive side is I am through. The next match with Shaun will be hard enough so I have not looked any further than my next opponent."
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