Gary Anderson looks to join an elite group of multiple World Matchplay champions by ending the dream debut run of…
Gary Anderson looks to join an elite group of multiple World Matchplay champions by ending the dream debut run of Dimitri van den Bergh in the final on Sunday.
The tournament’s first ever staging behind closed doors and away from the Winter Gardens in Blackpool has produced, quality, drama and controversy in abundance over the past eight days, now just two men remain in pursuit of the £150,000 title.
Anderson knows exactly what it takes to go the distance in this long-haul format, having famously triumphed at the Winter Gardens two years ago in a marathon final.
The two-time World Champion has shrugged off an indifferent spell of form after the restart to reach his 19th PDC major final and now stands on the cusp of joining Phil Taylor, Rod Harrington and Michael van Gerwen to have claimed this crown on more than one occasion.
Anderson began his run with a workmanlike 10-5 victory over Justin Pipe despite an average of just 90, but blew off the cobwebs by defeating 2007 champion James Wade 11-8 in the Last 16.
The Flying Scotsman then went on to defeat Simon Whitlock 16-12 with a 98 average, before coming through a pulsating tie break to edge past his close friend Michael Smith 18-16 in Saturday’s Semi-Finals.
Anderson, who celebrates his 50th birthday later this year, has won three of his last four major finals, including the 2018 UK Open – a tournament also played behind closed doors.
Van den Bergh, meanwhile, has embarked on a remarkable run to his first major final in his first Betfred World Matchplay campaign and now has the chance to etch his name into the history books.
The 26-year-old, who qualified as the eleventh highest ranked player from the ProTour Order of Merit, had previously never been beyond the Quarter-Finals of a PDC major but has produced his blistering best in Milton Keynes this week.
The Belgian began by defeating Premier League star Nathan Aspinall 10-5, before narrowly denying Joe Cullen 11-9 and ending the resurgent run of Adrian Lewis 16-12.
He then showed maturity and composure beyond his years to hold off a granite Glen Durrant 17-15 in a latenight Semi-Final on Saturday, averaging between 98 and 99 for the third time this week.
The former World Youth Champion, twice a World Championship quarter-finalist, is bidding to become the first Belgian player to win a major PDC title and is the first World Matchplay debutant to reach the final since James Wade in 2006.
He is now into the top 16 on the PDC Order of Merit for the first time, but will not be content to settle for second prize and will feel he has a golden opportunity to claim the crown based on current form.
This will be only the second competitive meeting between the two players, with Van den Bergh having prevailed 8-7 in the Semi-Finals of the 2018 German Masters World Series event.
The final gets underway from 8.30pm BST and will be contested over the best of 35 legs.
The match must be won by two clear legs and will be extended if necessary for a maximum of six extra legs before a sudden death leg is required.
Anderson: “To win it would be fantastic – to get my name on that trophy again would be special.
“I’m fighting myself and it’s driving me nuts. I had all the time off last year and then I was just getting into it again and we went into lock-down.
“I want to get my game back to where I know it should be and I’m expecting to play like I used to but it’s not happening for me at the moment.
“I’m playing nowhere near what I should be.”
Van den Bergh: “It’s incredible – I don’t think I realise what I’ve done yet.
“I’m so proud to be in the final but I want to win it now. I’m in the final for a reason, and if I manage to win it will not be an upset.
“It’s because I’ve worked hard for it and kept digging in and believing in myself. I will need to be on top of it from the start to the end.
“I think it will work for me that Gary is a fast player because I’ve played other fast players this week.
“I’ll be ready and I think I have a big chance to be one of those winners who everyone remembers.
“I’m in the top 16 in the world and it is a life-changing week for me.”