World number three Peter Wright has warned his rivals to “watch out” as he aims to hit the ground running in 2019.
Wright defeated 16-time World Champion Phil Taylor in a huge SAP Darts Slam event in Prague as the top stars prepared for the first televised tournament of the year in Milton Keynes on Friday.
Wright, 48, crashed out of the World Championship to Toni Alcinas in a shock Second Round defeat but believes he is now ready for a more successful campaign.
He takes on Adrian Lewis on Saturday night and said of his win over Taylor: “It was a really good game. You know you’ve always got to play well against Phil. He hit a 156 and 128 finish, so he’s still very sharp.
“That was about enjoying myself. I love Phil and I miss him in the game.
“To be honest I wouldn’t have tried as hard or mucked about against anyone else. He deserves the respect. He’s enjoying his life and doing what he wants to do in his life.
“I feel sharp, it’s the first time I’ve played with the flights and stems, a little bit rusty but potential in them and looking really good.
“I was on the board all over Christmas getting ready for this year.
“I feel hungry and refreshed, I feel like the past few years I’ve been approaching the first bit of the Masters like ‘here we go another year’ but this year I want to play darts. It’s like watch out guys!”
Masters Champion Michael van Gerwen takes on Jonny Clayton on Friday and warmed up with an impressive victory over Rob Cross in Prague.
The Dutchman has vowed that three world titles has not stopped him being hungry for more silverware, adding: “It was good preparation for the Masters. Rob is always good so you have to play well against him. It was a privilege to play in this SAP event.
“I’m always ready and sharp for the year ahead. I don’t like losing whatever it is, exhibition or not. I just want to win.
“I’m very hungry still. I’m not going to quit yet, no chance. It’s really bad news for my rivals but they already know that!”