By Mark Williams
BOWLS ace Mark Royal is eyeing his first ever World Indoor Singles Championship semi-final later today when he takes to the rink at Hopton-on-Sea.
The world number three will face Darren Burnett at Potters Bar (7.30pm)- a Scotsman who is eight places below Royal in the global rankings.
The Stowmarket man celebrated his 36th bithday on Tuesday - the same day he was dismantling Ely-based Nick Brett 8-3, 6-6.
“I didn’t actually get a cake - but this was the icing on it,” said Royal after his convincing victory.
The pair last met in the International Open in 2008, with underdog Brett winning by a 14-shot margin. But, this time it was the Suffolk star who took command from the outset after winning the first set and opening a 4-0 lead in the second.
However, Brett, ranked 17 in the world, clawed back the deficit and, two shots from the target in the last end, was only able to make a double to tie the set.
“I started where I left off against Jamie Chestney (in the first round),” added Royal. “I nailed my first bowls and he struggled a bit with his.
“He relaxed at 6-1 down in the second - perhaps he thought it was over - then played the best three ends of the match to draw level.”
If Royal progresses past Burnett, he will tackle his semi-final match tomorrow (2.45pm), when he will attempt to make Sunday’s much-coveted final (2pm).