End of road for Norfolk star Mervyn King in singles at Potters
- Credit: James Bass
The Open Singles has produced the strongest bunch of quarter-finalists ever assembled, no fewer than six of the eight contenders having experience what it feels like to stand on the winner's podium.
Defending champion Darren Burnett is determined to hang on to his title, while his fellow Scots Alex Marshall, Paul Foster and David Gourlay, who are still in contention, have won the title ten times between them.
Four Englishmen face them today with places in tomorrow's semi finals at stake, and, as luck would have it, every quarter-final will be a classic England-versus-Scotland encounter.
This morning, Burnett, from Arbroath, faces a strong challenge from the 2010 champion Greg Harlow, whose City of Ely clubmate Nick Brett kicks off the afternoon session with a match against five-time world indoor singles champion Marshall.
When that is over, man-of-the-moment Robert Paxton, who plays for the Taunton Deane club in Somerset, takes on the legendary Scot David Gourlay, who won the title in 1996.
The evening session is sure to see a full house turn up to watch England's team captain Andy Thomson, who has won the title three times, taking on four-time winner and world number one Foster.
Last night, Thomson, who won back-to-back titles in 1994 and 1995, and notched up a third title in 2012, dashed the hopes of local hero and 2006 champion Mervyn King, beating him 7-11, 8-6, 2-1.
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In a topsy-turvy encounter, Thomson squandered a 7-1 lead in the first set, but clawed back from 5-1 adrift in the second set, before taking the honours on a tense and tactical tie-break.
Foster and Marshall dealt pretty emphatically with what was expected to be strong challenge from two PBA qualifiers, Tony Webb from the Riverain club in Hitchin and young Aussie Ben Twist.
'It would be disrespectful to take qualifiers lightly,' said Foster. 'We know it's a long, hard road to qualify through the PBA play-offs. There are no easy games at all these days, so 'Tattie' (Marshall) and I took these games seriously.'
Foster dismissed Webb, a 50-year-old proprietor of a printing firm, in straight sets, 9-2, 7-5, while Marshall defeated the 24-year-old Twist, 9-3, 11-4.