With one game to go this evening Latvia's Arturs Levikins and Petri Mannon of Finland were tied on 4953 and
third and fourth, Dimitrios Karetsos of Greece and Norway's Svein Ake Ek, also tied four pins back. so that was the leading four sorted out with the slight change of Ek advancing to third place over Karetsos.
"I certainly didn't expect to be number one at the beginning of today. I have played these lane patterns a few times in the World Youth and this European Cup last year, where I won the bronze medal," Levikins told us. "The short pattern worked out to be the best for me this time but I was really comfortable on the combined pattern this evening as the back ends were good. With one game to go there were only four pins dividing the top four, so my coach told me it was a battle and to go for it. So it was a good principle to be the best player.
"I wasn't sure whether I was going to have to play Dennis Eklund of Thomas Gross tomorrow but it doesn't matter as they are both great bowlers and now I know that I will have a tough match against Gross."
The true blood, toil, tears and sweat came for the lower order with Francois Sacco of France and Austria's Thomas Gross fighting for eighth, Gross all the more keen for that vital place as wife Ivonne had made the women's final. To his relief, Gross made it with 14 pins to spare. Defending champion Ioannis Stathatos of Greece suffered with those 14 pins, finishing ninth and out of the competition.
Ukranian Oleksandr Kalikar slotted into fifth place, ahead of Marco Reviglio of Italy, then seventh came Dennis Eklund, the stocky Swede.
So the remaining octet will see high seed play low in the Saturday morning openers, Levikins against Gross; Mannonen playing Eklund; Ek plays Reviglio and Karetsos is up against Kalika, altogether a nice mix of nations and talent.
Play is due to commence alongside the women's division at 9am local time Saturday morning and the final, televised for later showing on Eurosport 2 is scheduled to take place around 14:00.
TOP 20 AFTER 24 GAMES
Top 8 qualify for finals
|3||Svein Åke Ek||NOR||1.675||209,38||1.793||224,13||1.719||215||5.187||216,13|
|13||Jon Ingi Ragnarsson||ISL||1.535||191,88||1.611||201,38||1.617||202||4.763||198,46|