Reigning champion Michael van Gerwen continues the defence of his world crown as he faces rival Terry Jenkins in a mouth-watering repeat of October’s European Championship final on Monday night.
Dutch sensation Van Gerwen is aiming to become only the third player in PDC history (behind Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis) to have successfully defended the World Championship title.
Van Gerwen has survived minor scares from Joe Cullen and Sascha Stein en route to this stage and undoubtedly has gears to climb at the business end of the competition, with his tournament average currently standing at 98.
Mighty Mike will be fully aware of the threat posed by an in-form Jenkins, who notably knocked him out of March’s UK Open and last month’s Players Championship Finals in Minehead.
The nine-time major finalist has marked an emphatic return to form this season, carrying that resurgence into this event with early round routs of John Weber and Loz Ryder – including eight perfect darts in his most recent victory.
The Ledbury ace remains one of the most tenacious characters in the sport and will be confident of pushing the world number one all the way in what promises to be a classic contest in the latest chapter of their growing rivalry.
The duo have met a total of 18 times in previous major competition, with van Gerwen holding the marginally superior head-to-head record of ten wins to Jenkins’ eight, including a 10-4 rout in last month’s Grand Slam.
Either ninth seed Robert Thornton or emerging Dutch star Benito van de Pas will await the winner in the Quarter-Finals later in the week.
The match gets underway at around 8.45pm GMT and will be played over the best of seven sets (best of three legs per set) from the Alexandra Palace in London.
Van Gerwen: “I know I’m a better player than him when I play my own game and when I’m playing at 100 per cent I am going to beat him.
“He [Jenkins] is playing well and is into the tournament. I’m not playing my best game, but I’ve still won quite easily and that’s a good thing to know.”
Jenkins: “Michael will be out to beat me as much as I will be out to beat him so it should be a good game.
“You can’t think about who you’re playing against, you’ve just got to go up there and concentrate on winning that game. You know what you’re doing in practice, get your practice right and make sure you’re on form all the time.”
Live Darts verdict:
Jenkins will hold no fear heading into this titanic tussle and it’s a question of whether ‘The Bull’ can contain an inevitable mid-game surge from the number one seed if he is to defy the odds.
Van Gerwen is desperate to avenge his recent defeats at the hands of the Ledbury ace, but the sets format will undoubtedly favour the underdog, with MVG bracing himself for a nervy night at the office.
Our top three betting tips:
- Jenkins +2.5 sets handicap @ 5/6 with Paddy Power
- Over 14.5 total match 180s @ EVS with Bet365
- Van Gerwen to hit the highest checkout @ 8/13 with Betfair
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