Daventry darts ace Kevin Painter tonight (Thursday) takes on reigning champion Adrian Lewis as he bids to reach the last eight at the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship.
Painter booked his place in the last 16 with a hard-fought and exciting 4-3 second round win over Ronnie Baxter, and he now faces two-times world champion Lewis, who cruised to a 4-1 win over Denis Ovens in his second round clash.
Lewis has been in decent form in his matches so far at Alexandra Palace, but he admits he is going to have to up his game if he is going to get past Painter and go on to retain his title.
Lewis was below his best against Ovens, averaging only 88, but he did hit five 180s, and said: “It wasn’t brilliant but I got the job done and I’m pleased to be through.
“I hit the crucial shots at the right time, but I’ve got to improve if I’m going to keep the title and the important thing is that I’m through.
“I’ll be back on the practice board to prepare for Kevin and I’m looking forward to it.
“I watched Kevin’s game and he’s in fantastic form so I’ll be ready for him.”
Painter will just be relieved to be in the third round.
The 2004 finalist impressed as he took charge of the contest, which had been finely balanced at one set apiece before Painter won six successive legs to forge a 3-1 advantage.
Baxter, though, hit back superbly and took eight legs without reply as he firstly levelled the contest before moving 2-0 up in the deciding set.
But under immense pressure, Painter produced a run of four straight legs to win an enthralling contest and end Baxter’s hopes.
“It was an incredible game to be involved in, but I felt I’d thrown it away when I was 2-0 down in the final set,” admitted Painter.
“Somehow, I managed to recover and get myself together. I took out a couple of good finishes at vital times and that’s what saw me through.”
Baxter admitted: “My scoring was really good for most of the match, but in the final set my accuracy with the first dart deserted me.
“Credit to Kevin though, he did take out good finishes when it was needed.”
Painter and Lewis are due on the oche at 8.30pm tonight, and the match will be broadcast live on Sky Sports.