Wayne Mardle, the "nearly man" of darts, admits no world title success would feel like the genuine article unless it included a victory over Phil Taylor.
And the 32-year-old from Dagenham has the chance to set up his dream scenario on New Year’s Day when, in his third consecutive Ladbrokes.com World Championship semi-final, he will aim to secure a place in the Circus Tavern showdown for the first time at the expense of ‘The Power’.
Taylor, the 12-times world champion, has been something of a nemesis for Mardle, but in his victories over John Part and Alan Warriner-Little there is no doubt the world number six has displayed the sort of form that would trouble any opponent.
Mardle only missed double 18 for a perfect nine-dart leg in his quarter-final and it is that sort of form he will need to produce against Taylor, who served up an awesome performance in a 5-1 thrashing of Kevin Painter.
“I feel good about my game,” said the Essex extrovert, nicknamed ‘Hawaii 501’ because of the flamboyant shirt he wears on stage. “I have not shown that much know-how before but I am doing now.
“If I can beat Phil Taylor on the way to winning the World Championship I would pack up darts very happy. I feel you have to beat Phil if you are going to do it.
“He is the reason why I joined the PDC. When Phil talked about retiring after winning the world title two years ago I was distraught because I had just joined the PDC and wanted to beat him. The man is a legend.”
It has been suggested that Mardle’s downfall previously has been his penchant for playing to the crowd, with his Hawaii Five-O paddling dance and general exuberance on stage thought to have reduced his effectiveness at the oche.
That is a side to his game Mardle has tried to play down at this tournament and he has felt the benefit of it.
“I have got a calm feeling over me,” said the world number six. “I still want to show off but I want to get the job done first. Maybe it is the new me. I have tried different tactics in the past, stayed quiet and it has not worked, but I am releasing the aggression in my own way now and it is working.”
Taylor is also peaking at just the right time and the match promises to be a terrific spectacle if both men are still on song after the festivities.
“It will be a big occasion for me,” said the 45-year-old from Stoke. “It should be a cracking semi-final. We will both be buzzing and Wayne will be up for it. He has done his apprenticeship now and is a proper tradesman.”
The other semi-final is between Wolverhampton qualifier Wayne Jones and fifth seed Peter Manley, who ended the run of Taylor’s protégé Adrian Lewis with a 5-3 win but was accused of gamesmanship by talking when his opponent was about to throw.
Lewis walked off stage to compose himself and was always struggling as Manley became a strong favourite to reach the final for the third time.