Jonny Clayton admits playing Michael Smith will be a “huge challenge” in the BetVictor World Matchplay.
The plucky Pontyberem ace faces recent Shanghai Masters winner Bully Boy at the Winter Gardens on his Blackpool debut on Saturday.
It’s been a breakthrough 12 months for "The Ferret", including the biggest win of his career as he took the Austrian Open in April.
Now he wants to upset on-form Smith on the seaside. He admitted: “I’ve got total respect for Michael as a person and a dart player.
“It will be a real challenge to beat him but it’s one I’m looking forward to massively.
“My preparation has gone very well, I’ve had my head down on the practice board for the last few weeks so hopefully my hard work will pay off.
“I can’t wait to play on the Winter Gardens stage, I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time now
“My confidence is on a high and now I want to show everyone how good I can be on one of the biggest stages in world darts.
“Being a dart player, these are the tournaments you want to play in and slowly but surely I’m making my way into more and more of the big TV events.
“Everyone always says Blackpool has an amazing atmosphere and now I’ve got the chance to experience it for myself which really excites me.”
Clayton won his first PDC ranking title at Players Championship 22 in Barnsley last October, before coming runner-up at the Players Championship Finals a month later, and has also qualified for the World Grand Prix and European Championship later this year.
Now he wants to taste more glory, adding: “I keep improving my game and taking steps toward the top end of the rankings.
“The win in Austria was huge for me, I was so happy to have won my first European Tour title and now I want to add more.
“I’m in my fourth year playing in the PDC now, and it’s been a real learning curve.
“I’ve learned so much from all the players and I feel confident that my approach to the TV tournaments will be spot on.”
“I’ve set myself a target of getting into the top 16, which I am a little bit closer to now but who knows how far I could go.”
By Phil Lanning (@lannomedia)