A loaded semi-final stands in the way of Mahe Drysdale and his hotly anticipated finals showdown against Robbie Manson in Lucerne, Switzerland on Sunday night (NZ time).
The double Olympic single sculls champion had an encouraging start to the crucial World Cup regatta in Switzerland, after posting the fastest time in the heats.
Just hours later, Drysdale came off second best in a quarter-final battle with long-time rival and five-time World Champion Ondrej Synek.
"I got the toughest quarter-final, unfortunately," Drysdale told Brendan Telfer on Radio Live.
Drysdale knows his semi-final tonight is also the tougher of the two.
"The field is so strong I've got to be right on my game, [otherwise] I might find myself in the B-final, and that's certainly not where I want to be."
The 39-year-old has to face three particularly strong crews, including the two German scullers who claimed silver and bronze behind Robbie Manson at last month's World Cup in Austria.
Drysdale needs a top-three finish to progress to Sunday's A-final and ultimately, his showdown with Manson.
"I've now got the confidence, if I put it all together I can certainly make it," Drysdale said.
Robbie Manson's path to the final is looking far more promising; he'll contest the other semi-final, which notably includes Synek after he breezed through both his heat and quarter-final earlier this morning.
Whoever does better between Manson and Drysdale will win the race to the single sculls bat for the World Championships in September.