Michael van Gerwen believes Michael Smith is “mentally weak” as he prepares to face the Englishman in the Quarter-Finals of the US Darts Masters in Las Vegas on Friday.
The box office duo collide in a repeat of January’s World Championship final, with Van Gerwen looking to record a sixth straight win over ‘Bully Boy’ in all competitions.
Van Gerwen defeated Smith by seven sets to three to claim a third world title at Alexandra Palace on New Year’s Day before going on to do the double over him in the Premier League.
Smith has endured a below-par season to date, and Van Gerwen thinks he lacks the mental strength to match his unquestioned natural talent.
“With all the respect, Michael’s talent is phenomenal but in the mental aspect, he is weak and we all know that,” the Dutchman told Live Darts.
“In darts, you need to have a clear mind and sometimes for him that’s not the case.
“He thinks about this game too much or about other things outside of darts and you need to make sure you’re focused.”
Van Gerwen has not claimed silverware of any sort since his Premier League triumph at The O2 in May and is out to send out a clear message ahead of the Betfred
World Matchplay later this month.
The world number one began his quest for a second US Masters title with a hard-fought 6-4 win over Darin Young on Thursday and says he is relishing the extended format in the latter stages.
He added: “I feel good, it’s a nice format to play in, best of 15, so I’m looking forward to it.
“I’m first game on so I need to make sure I get my rest and I will be ready.
“It’s always nice to come back over here because there’s so much to do but also it’s a really important tournament and I want to win this.
“I want to get back to winning ways.”