The 2020 World Matchplay enters its business end in Milton Keynes on Thursday as the opening two Quarter-Finals take place…
The 2020 World Matchplay enters its business end in Milton Keynes on Thursday as the opening two Quarter-Finals take place at the Marshall Arena.
A pulsating first five days of the unique, behind-closed doors event has provided countless drama and talking points, with six of the top eight seeds having departed the competition.
Only one player left standing in the competition has previously lifted the Phil Taylor Trophy, while a wide open bottom half of the draw has presented a golden opportunity for an outsider to potentially claim the crown.
Gary Anderson is the man who knows exactly what it takes to go the distance in this long-haul format, having triumphed at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool two years ago.
The two-time World Champion has shrugged off an indifferent spell of form after the restart to reach the latter stages of the sport’s summer show-piece once again, but finds himself in arguably the tougher half of the draw.
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 Scot maintains he still requires a vast improvement if he is to challenge to become only the fourth multiple Matchplay winner since the tournament was introduced in 1994.
Whitlock, meanwhile, believes he is producing the best darts of his career at the age of 51 and has backed that claim up with two superb performances en route to the Last Eight.
The Australian ace has dropped just eight legs so far, defeating debutant Ryan Joyce 10-4 on the opening night before pulling off a sensational 11-4 rout of world number one Michael van Gerwen.
That victory over MVG ended a 15-match winless run dating back four years, and now ‘The Wizard’ is tasked with backing it up by overcoming another multiple World Champion to reach his third World Matchplay Semi-Final.
The opening tie of the night sees 2019 runner-up Michael Smith take on Polish revelation Krzysztof Ratajski.
Smith was emphatic in his opening salvo, thrashing Jonny Clayton 10-3 with a 101 average, before coming through an epic tie break to deny Mensur Suljovic 14-12 and underline his new-found maturity and mental strength on the big stage.
Also a runner-up in this year’s Masters, Smith is a man on a mission as he looks to go one better than last year’s heartbreak at the hands of Rob Cross in Blackpool.
Ratajski, seeded 13th in only his second Matchplay appearance, produced one of the stand-out performances of the opening round by dismantling Jermaine Wattimena 10-4 with a 107.5 average.
He then followed that up with a 99 average in a battling 12-10 victory over Gabriel Clemens and now finds himself in only a first PDC major Quarter-Final.
The former World Masters champion has seemingly transferred his clinical floor form of the last 18 months onto the big stage and will look to follow suit against a constrastingly quick thrower.
The action gets underway from 7pm BST, with Quarter-Finals matches 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.
World Matchplay 2020 Match Schedule
Thursday July 23
7.15pm Krzysztof Ratajski v Michael Smith
8.45pm Simon Whitlock v Gary Anderson