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Smith and Aspinall prevail in World Matchplay epics as Van Gerwen and Wright also reach Quarter-Finals

Betfred World Matchplay 2021 Day Five preview and order of play: Quarter-Final line-up to be completed

Jamie Shaw in World Matchplay 21 Jul 2021
Aspinall and Anderson collide (Photo by Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

The Quarter-Final line-up will be finalised at the 2021 World Matchplay on Wednesday, with four of the world’s top eight players among those vying to progress.

Tuesday saw defending champion Dimitri van den Bergh, world number one Gerwyn Price, Polish ace Krzysztof Ratajski and debutant Callan Rydz all secure their places in the Last Eight.

A star-studded bottom half of the draw will now take centre stage on Day Five with two former World Matchplay champions and two former finalists looking to continue their charge.

Michael van Gerwen is chasing down a third Matchplay crown and what would be a first in five years, and the number three seed takes on a resurgent Ian White in Round Two.

The Dutch star is without a PDC title in 2021 so far, with his most recent triumph coming at the Players Championship Finals last November.

Van Gerwen has lost in two finals on the ProTour this season and was a semi-finalist in both the UK Open and Premier League, suggesting his top form may not be far from reach.

He began his latest campaign at the Winter Gardens with a hard-fought 10-7 victory over Damon Heta on Monday and will be eyeing a marked improvement on his average of 95.5.

White came into this event unseeded following a barren run of form, but a dramatic 10-7 win over Daryl Gurney saw him make a swift return to the world’s top 16.

The Stoke veteran is bidding to reach the Quarter-Finals here for the first time in six years – when he was beaten 16-13 by eventual champion MVG.

White and MVG face off (Photo by Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

Two of this season’s Premier League stars go head-to-head in another fascinating contest as Gary Anderson takes on Nathan Aspinall.

Aspinall thrashed his darting idol 7-2 in their first Premier League meeting this year before being held to a 7-7 draw in the reverse fixture in Milton Keynes.

The Asp went on to reach the play-offs for the second successive year, but has struggled for consistency since that Semi-Final exit amid a positive Covid test and issues in his private life by his own admission.

However, the former UK Open champion recorded his first win in this competition on Monday by dispatching Mervyn King 10-6 and is now braced for what could be an epic against the 2018 champion.

Anderson, who finished runner-up in last year’s Betfred World Matchplay, finished eighth in the Premier League, with his Semi-Final appearance at Players Championship 14 last month representing his best run of the campaign so far.

The Flying Scotsman has been an ever-present in this competition since 2009 and make a solid start by comfortably defeating Stephen Bunting 10-5 on Monday.

The opening match of the night sees Jose De Sousa face Michael Smith in a repeat of their Grand Slam Quarter-Final last November.

De Sousa prevailed 16-14 in a nip and tuck contest on his way to claiming the title, and a similarly close-run battle is anticipated between the two power scorers here.

De Sousa, making his first appearance on the Winter Gardens stage, thrashed Gabriel Clemens 10-2 to kick-start his quest for back-to-back major finals, having finished runner-up in the Premier League.

Smith was a beaten finalist in his last visit to Blackpool two years ago and is targeting 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 and will be eyeing an improved display against the Portuguese scoring machine over this distance.

Another box office show-down sees 2017 Matchplay finalist Peter Wright take on seven-time ranking event winner Joe Cullen.

An underwhelming Premier League campaign earlier 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.

The number two seed averaged 99.7 in a 10-2 demolition of Danny Noppert in his opener but now faces a player in a rich vein of form on both floor and stage this year.

Cullen was infamously beaten 19-17 by Gary Anderson in an epic Quarter-Final here three years ago and has taken his game to new heights since, climbing to world number 15.

Winner of two Players Championship events this year, Cullen has been one of the season’s stand-out performers and held his nerve in a high quality tussle to overcome Chris Dobey 10-8 in Round One.

The action gets under way from 7pm BST, with Second Round ties 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.

WATCH WORLD MATCHPLAY DARTS STREAMED LIVE HERE (18+)

World Matchplay 2021 Day Five Schedule

Wednesday July 21

Second Round

7.15pm Michael Smith v Jose De Sousa
8.15pm Gary Anderson v Nathan Aspinall
9.15pm Michael van Gerwen v Ian White
10.15pm Peter Wright v Joe Cullen