Four of the world’s top tungsten talents collide for the right to complete the Semi-Final line-up at the 2021 World…
Four of the world’s top tungsten talents collide for the right to complete the Semi-Final line-up at the 2021 World Matchplay on Day Seven.
Reigning champion Dimitri van den Bergh maintained his unbeaten record in the competition on Thursday, and will be joined in the Last Four by Polish ace Krzysztof Ratajski.
A multiple World Matchplay winner, two former runners-up and a former major winner now do battle for the right to join them and remain in the running for the Phil Taylor trophy.
Michael van Gerwen is one of only three players to have won this title on more than one occasion, having gone back-to-back in 2015 and 2016, and is aiming to end his mini drought and claim his first silverware of the season.
The world number three has lost in two finals on the ProTour this season and was a semi-finalist in both the UK Open and Premier League.
He began his latest campaign at the Winter Gardens with a hard-fought 10-7 victory over Damon Heta, before averaging 100.7 in an 11-8 defeat of Ian White.
Van Gerwen now comes up against his recent nemesis Nathan Aspinall – who claimed a win and a draw from their two Premier League meetings earlier this year.
Aspinall had failed to win in his two previous Betfred World Matchplay appearances but has found form at the Winter Gardens this time around to reach his first major ranking Quarter-Final since the Grand Slam last November.
The 2020 Premier League runner-up opened up with a 10-6 win over Mervyn King before edging past his darting idol Gary Anderson 11-9 with a 99 average on Wednesday.
The Asp thrashed MVG 8-3 in the Premier League in May, but the Dutchman has come out on top in their longer format meetings of late, including the 2019 World Championship Semi-Final and 2020 UK Open Last 64.
The opening match of the night features a repeat of the 2020 Masters final between Peter Wright and Michael Smith.
Smith infamously missed three match darts in that final and remains in pursuit of an elusive maiden major title, having not made a televised final since.
Smith was a beaten finalist in his last visit to Blackpool two years ago and has continued his consistent form at the Winter Gardens to reach his first televised Quarter-Final of the season.
The number seven seed saw off Ryan Searle 10-7 in Round One without hitting a maximum but quickly found his scoring range to defeat man of the moment Jose De Sousa 13-11 in the only tie break of the tournament so far.
Wright has stormed into a sixth consecutive Quarter-Final at the Winter Gardens and is looking to go one better than his runner-up spot in 2017, when Phil Taylor denied him glory.
An underwhelming Premier League campaign this season saw Wright finish seventh, but the Scot warmed up for his latest trip to the Winter Gardens in style by winning Players Championship 20 just over a week ago and has continued that rich vein of form.
The number two seed has dropped just seven legs en route to this stage, thrashing Danny Noppert 10-2 with a 99.7 average before cruising past Joe Cullen 11-5 with a 105.4 average – the highest of the tournament so far.
The action gets under way from 7pm BST, with Quarter-Final ties to be contested over the best of 31 legs.
All matches must be won by two clear legs, with a match being extended if necessary for a maximum of six extra legs before a sudden death leg is required.
Betfred World Matchplay 2021 Day Seven Schedule
Friday July 23
7.15pm Peter Wright v Michael Smith
8.45pm Michael van Gerwen v Nathan Aspinall