Gary Anderson will begin the defence of his Betfred World Matchplay title this evening at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool. Just twelve months ago, the two-time World champion edged out Mensur Suljovic in of the greatest final that we’ve seen on the Winter Gardens stage.
But, the defence of his World Matchplay title will prove to be stern test for the Scot as he’s faced with a tough tie on Saturday evening as he takes on Dutchman Danny Noppert.
The Scot is priced at 10/1 with title sponsors Betfred to successfully defend his title, and Anderson is of course in the same half of the draw as Michael van Gerwen, James Wade and Michael Smith, so it’s far from an easy task if Anderson is to make it to the final.
“I’m looking forward to getting back up on the stage, but it might take a while for me to get my consistency back so I’m not putting too much pressure on myself,” said Anderson, who missed the majority of the first half of the year due to a back injury.
“I’ve been taking things easier recently, it’s done me the world of good and I’ve also managed to drop a couple of stone thanks to my diet.
“I’ve not had the long match play to see how the back stands up so it will be interesting. Everyone knows I’ve not played much but my body’s good.
“The venue at Blackpool is absolutely brilliant – all the fans are jammed in and it’s always a top atmosphere.“
World no.1 Michael Van Gerwen is the obvious favourite to end his two-year wait to once again lift the Phil Taylor trophy on July 28.
‘Snakebite’ Peter Wright suffered a poor run of form at the start of the year, but in the space of just five days, Wright picked up three PDC titles at the German Darts Masters in Cologne and two Players Championship titles in Barnsley.
Wright made it to the final a few years ago, and he’ll most certainly be confident on winning his half of the draw.
In terms of the opening night of action at the Winter Gardens, UK Open and US Darts Masters winner Nathan Aspinall opens up the tournament against Mervyn King on his World Matchplay debut. Believe it or not, it’s the first time that Aspinall and King have ever played one another.
“Before the Worlds I was a nobody, now I’m living my dream,” said Aspinall, who won his first PDC ranking title in September 2018.
“I feel like I’m proving my worth, but it’s not easy – I work so, so hard and practice so much because I want to be a top player, I want to be talked about with the likes of Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson.
“Ultimately, I want to be a top sportsman in my field. I’ve started off well but there’s a long way to go to the top, and this week is another chance for me to show people what I’m about.”
Gerwyn Price is heavily tipped to enjoy a good run in Blackpool. Of course, twelve months ago, Price was recovering from a ruptured achilles injury as he suffered a hefty defeat to Joe Cullen, but Price will certainly fancy his chances against Stephen Bunting, who himself has rediscovered a bit of form as he reached the final at the Czech Darts Open recently.
As mentioned previously, Gary Anderson will kick off the defence of his World Matchplay title as he faces Danny Noppert. The Dutchman could pose a big threat to Anderson as ‘Noppie’ has found some great form over the last year or so. A PDC title winner and Anderson will need to get into Noppert early on if he’s to have a stress-free evening.
Rounding off the evening’s action, the no.2 seed Rob Cross faces another tough opponent in the shape of Bedlington’s Chris Dobey. Out of all of this evening’s matches, this one has the most potential to cause an ‘upset’.
Dobey’s been in some great form as of late, but much like Anderson, Rob Cross will need to get into Dobey from the get-go if he’s to run out a convincing winner.
My in-depth betting preview is available via The Punters Page, which can be found below.
Schedule of Play
Saturday July 20 (1900 BST) First Round
Nathan Aspinall v Mervyn King
Gerwyn Price v Stephen Bunting
Gary Anderson v Danny Noppert
Rob Cross v Chris Dobey
A limited number of tickets for the 2019 Betfred World Matchplay are still available.
Tickets are available via SeeTickets or by calling 0844 871 8807.
Tickets are also available through the Winter Gardens Box Office via Ticketmaster.
Winner – £150,000
Runner-Up – £70,000
Semi-Finalists – £50,000
Quarter-Finalists – £25,000
Second Round Losers – £15,000
First Round Losers – £10,000
Total – £700,000