Matthew Stevens has insisted he will shed himself of the unwanted title of Crucible nearly-man and win the World Snooker Championships before he hangs up his cue.
Stevens, recognised as one of the most talented players in the game, has won two of the game’s most prestigious titles – The Masters in 2000 and the UK Championship in 2003.
But the ultimate glory of emerging victorious in Sheffield has always been denied the 27-year-old and that hoodoo raised its head again when beaten by qualifier Shaun Murphy in Monday’s final.
Stevens led 10-6 overnight against the 150-1 outsider but was powerless to stop Murphy fighting back to win 18-16.
Ironically, those were the scores at the same junctures when Stevens lost the 2000 final to Mark Williams.
On top of that the Welshman has tasted defeat in the semi-finals on three occasions against John Higgins (2001), Peter Ebdon (2002) and Graeme Dott (2004).
But Tottenham supporter Stevens is determined to break that sequence and can take heart from a positive ending to the campaign after losing the opening match in the first four ranking events.
Stevens said: “I was disappointed to lose the final but one plus I can take away with me was playing well under pressure and at 16-16 I felt as good as I had done all match but Shaun played superbly.
“I came to Sheffield to win the tournament and once again I have got really close without quite managing it, but I’ll be back – and I’ll win the world title before I finish.
“It is only a matter of when and I’ll be keeping my chin up, will do a lot of hard work and come back and achieve that aim.
“People ask me if I was thinking of the 2000 final with the way things panned out but that was not the case and I felt really good out there in the arena.
“I’ve got a good record at the Crucible and I keep coming close, but the fact I haven’t won it doesn’t gnaw away at me.
“I am only 27. I’ve got plenty of time. I’ve had a couple of good weeks after a disappointing few results at the start of the season.
“I keep coming so near and one day I will be world champion.”
Stevens, who turned professional in 1994, can take consolation from moving up two places to number four in the new rankings for 2005-06 after collecting 6,000 points for finishing runner-up.