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Wright edges Ratajski in World Matchplay thriller as Aspinall advances past Wade

Betfred World Matchplay 2022 | Day Four Preview and Order of Play

Jamie Shaw in World Matchplay 19 Jul 2022
Michael van Gerwen shakes hands with Joe Cullen (Photo credit: Steven Paston/PDC)

The Second Round action gets under way at the 2022 Betfred World Matchplay in Blackpool on Tuesday with four suitably red-hot ties.

The opening round laid claim to three seeded casualties and featured comebacks, tie breaks and a scattering of ton-plus averages.

A place in the business end of the £800,000 major is now up for grabs as the seeds begin to collide on the pressure cooker that is the Winter Gardens stage.

The pick of the night’s fixtures features a repeat of last month’s nail-biting Premier League final between Michael van Gerwen and Joe Cullen.

Cullen, in his debut Premier League season, was left to rue an agonising missed dart for the title in Berlin as MVG stepped in to snatch an 11-10 victory and secure his sixth crown.

Cullen, quarter-finalist here in 2018, thrashed Damon Heta 10-2 in Round One on Sunday despite being installed as the outsider of the pair by the bookmakers, something which he admitted provided added motivation.

Van Gerwen came into this event as the number four seed, having undergone surgery on his throwing arm which forced him to miss the World Cup of Darts and four subsequent Players Championship events.

Back-to-back World Matchplay champion in 2015 and 2016, MVG has suffered a mixed bag of results in Blackpool since, including one First Round and two Second Round exits.

An average of 89.6 was enough for him to battle past 2013 finalist Adrian Lewis in Round One, but the Dutchman will be demanding a much-improved display against an opponent seeking revenge.

Peter Wright resumes the defence of his title with a clash against last year’s semi-finalist – Krzysztof Ratajski.

Wright is among the star names bidding to join that elite group of only three players to have successfully retained this title, having claimed glory for the first time 12 months ago.

The world number one became the fifth player to win both the PDC World Championship and the World Matchplay and went on to secure his second world title at Ally Pally in January but has since struggled for both form and consistency.

He began his latest campaign with a dominant 10-4 victory over Latvian debutant Madars Razma, and now faces another unflappable opponent with big stage pedigree.

Ratajski held on to the final seeded spot in the field having struggled to replicate last season’s trademark consistency, but the Polish ace will be encouraged by his opening display which saw him average 98.5 in a 10-6 success over Stephen Bunting.

James Wade, the 2007 World Matchplay champion, faces a show-down against former UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall.

Having lost in the final on debut in 2006, Wade went one better the following year to clinch the first of his ten televised titles to date.

He has since reached a further four finals at this historic venue, but had been a First Round casualty in three of his last five visits prior to defeating debutant Martin Lukeman this year.

Despite the injury woes which threatened to derail his career, Aspinall has dug deep to return to form in recent months, picking up a ProTour title and reaching a further two finals.

The Stockport star dumped out form horse Luke Humphries with a commanding 10-5 victory on Saturday to send out a defiant message to those who wrote off his chances, and he is now eyeing back-to-back Quarter-Final appearances in Blackpool.

The opening tie of the evening sees 2020 champion Dimitri van den Bergh take on debutant star Rowby-John Rodriguez.

Van den Bergh became the first Belgian winner of a PDC major when he triumphed behind closed doors in Milton Keynes in 2020 and came within touching distance of retaining the title in Blackpool last time out, only to be denied by Peter Wright in the final.

The back-to-back World Series event winner, who is bidding to avert a drop down the rankings come the end of the week, began by thrashing Callan Rydz 10-2 with a 100 average on opening night.

Rodriguez, meanwhile, enjoyed a dream debut on this iconic stage by knocking out eighth seed Jonny Clayton 10-7 with a 99 average.

The former World Cup finalist, who held on to the final ProTour qualification spot, is now eyeing another significant scalp which would move him back into the world’s top 64 less than seven months after regaining his Tour Card at Qualifying School.

The action gets under way from 7pm BST, with Second Round matches to be contested over the best of 21 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 2022 Day Four Schedule

Tuesday July 19

Second Round

7.15pm Rowby-John Rodriguez v Dimitri Van den Bergh
8.15pm James Wade v Nathan Aspinall
9.15pm Peter Wright v Krzysztof Ratajski
10.15pm Michael van Gerwen v Joe Cullen

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