Ruthless Peter Wright claims maiden World Matchplay title

An emotional Peter Wright picked up his first World Matchplay title thanks to a dominant 18-9 win over Dimitri van den Bergh in the final on Sunday.

Wright ended Van den Bergh’s hopes of retaining the Betfred World Matchplay crown as he capped off a memorable week with another rampant display to seal glory at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.

World number two Wright had lost in the final four years ago, but this time lifted the trophy named in honour of his conqueror in 2017 – Phil Taylor.

The 51-year-old averaged 105.9 in the final, ending with a tournament average of 104.91 – the fifth highest in the history of the tournament – as he became the eleventh different Matchplay champion since the event began in 1994.

“That one was for Jo [wife],” said an emotional Wright. “She’s been through a lot over the last year or so, but she insisted she would be here for the final.

“I used to watch the World Matchplay as a kid and now my name is on the trophy forever and that’s special.

“It was amazing to lift that trophy in front of this amazing crowd.

“As soon as I walked on, the crowd were behind me and it was a real goosebumps moment, the hairs stood up on the back of my neck.

“A lot of players have commentated saying I should leave the talking to my darts and that’s what I’ve done.

“I might have a big mouth but I’ve backed it up and I’m only going to get better.”

Wright was clinical in punishing early Van den Bergh misses to open up leads of 3-0 and 4-1, before reeling off four straight legs – including breaks of throw in 11 and 12 darts – to move 8-2 up.

Van den Bergh stepped in following five uncharacteristic misses from his rival in leg 11, and produced a 12-darter to reduce the gap to 8-4.

Wright, though, restored his cushion with a 13-dart leg and produced a ten-darter to move 10-4 up and close in on glory.

Van den Bergh rallied, finishing 87, 96 and 84 in winning four of the next six to pull back to 12-8, only for an 11-darter from Wright to halt his momentum.

The Scot then took out 62 to lead 14-8 and punished misses from the reigning champion in the next two legs as he edged clear.

After Wright then took out 84 on the bull to create a 17-8 cushion, Van den Bergh landed the game’s only ton-plus checkout of 105, but it proved to be only a consolation as Wright sealed the deal with a 13-darter on double nine.

Van den Bergh’s quest to become only the fourth player in World Matchplay history to retain the title fell short, but the popular Belgian remained upbeat despite a frustrating final.

“Every game I’ve played, I’ve dug deep and played my best but tonight Peter was just outstanding,” said Van den Bergh.

“Of course it was a disappointment [to lose] but I can say that I gave everything and never gave up.

“I said to Peter that I’ll be back stronger. I’m number five in the world and I’m only 27, so I’ve got time on my side.

“I have tears, but I’m still very proud.”

Van den Bergh climbs to a career-high fifth in the PDC Order of Merit following the tournament, while Wright remains second but has closed the gap on Gerwyn Price to less than £200,000.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST PDC DARTS ODDS & SPECIALS (18+)

Betfred World Matchplay 2021 Result

Sunday July 25

Final
Peter Wright 18-9 Dimitri Van den Bergh

Peter Wright v Dimitri van den Bergh live stream: World Matchplay 2021 Final preview

Dimitri van den Bergh aims to become only the fourth player in history to retain the World Matchplay title when he faces world number two Peter Wright in the final on Sunday.

Van den Bergh claimed the title on his debut behind closed doors in Milton Keynes 12 months ago and has extended his incredible unbeaten record in the event to nine matches.

The Belgian sensation is bidding to join the elite trio of Phil Taylor, Rod Harrington and Michael van Gerwen in successfully defending this prestigious title.

Standing in the way of Van den Bergh and glory is the man whose family he shared a home with for three months during lockdown in 2020 and attributed much of his success to in the subsequent months.

Wright nurtured Van den Bergh into growing a winning mentality on both floor and stage, but now aims to ruthlessly end the youngster’s title defence and add this missing piece to his trophy collection.

Van den Bergh’s opening salvo at the Winter Gardens saw him record a comfortable 10-5 win over debutant Devon Petersen before averaging 103.7 and hitting a Second Round record of fourteen 180s in a pulsating 11-8 victory over Dave Chisnall.

The 27-year-old then pulled off a 16-9 victory over world number one Gerwyn Price in the Quarter-Finals with a 102.2 average, dominating a enthralling match which saw antics from both players.

From 6-2 down, Van den Bergh powered his way to a 17-9 success over Krzysztof Ratajski in Saturday’s Semi-Finals, taking his tournament average to 99.95 and his tally of 180s to 38.

Van den Bergh has already climbed three places in the PDC Order of Merit thanks to his exploits this week and would become world number four if he can retain the title.

Wright has stormed into a second Betfred World Matchplay final and is looking to go one better than his runner-up spot in 2017, when Phil Taylor denied him glory in a one-sided affair.

The flamboyant Scot warmed up for his latest trip to the Winter Gardens in perfect fashion by winning Players Championship 20 a fortnight ago and has picked up from where he left off.

The number two seed has dropped just 24 legs in his four wins en route to the final, thrashing Danny Noppert 10-2 with a 99.7 average before cruising past Joe Cullen 11-5 with a 105.4 average.

He then swept aside 2019 finalist Michael Smith 16-7 before producing one of the best performances of his career to thrash rival Michael van Gerwen 17-10 with a staggering 110.37 average – the seventh highest in Matchplay history.

An emotionally-charged Wright is bidding for his fifth major title, having won his last three consecutive finals, including the 2020 World Championship.

Snakebite has dominated the head-to-heads between the two players, winning nine of their eleven previous meetings, including an 8-5 victory in the recent Premier League despite a 107 average from the Belgian.

The final gets under way from 8.30pm BST and will be contested over the best of 35 legs.

The match must be won by two clear legs and will be extended if necessary for a maximum of six extra legs before a sudden death leg is required.

WATCH WRIGHT vs VAN DEN BERGH STREAMED LIVE HERE (18+)

Wright vs Van den Bergh – Player’s View:

Wright: “I’ve dreamed about winning this and picking up that trophy, and now I’m one game away from achieving that dream.”

“Dimi has turned into a man now, he’s learned a lot, not just from staying at mine, he already had the talent there anyway, you’re not double World Youth Champion for no reason at all.

“I’ll need all the magical secret stuff that I didn’t give to him to try and beat him!

“He’s got to play the master.

“I won’t even be playing Dimitri, I’ll just be playing the board and he’ll be playing the board as well.

“It’ll be two sportsmen battling it out and smashing each other to bits with loads of 180s and we should be able to do the nine [darter] between us!”

Van den Bergh: “It would be a dream come true to be the back-to-back World Matchplay champion.

“I’ve done it before with the World Youth Championship and to have the chance to win this in front of a crowd is a dream.

“I want to give the crowd a fantastic game, and I would love to lift the trophy again.

“I’ve learned a lot from Peter Wright, I’ve been accepted by the whole family as like their adopted son.

“I stayed with him for three months and they took care of me, then all of a sudden I get into the World Matchplay and manage to win it on my debut.

“I have used what I learned from Peter to win the title, now I have the chance to defend it against him, it would be incredible.”

Wright thrashes MVG to set up Van den Bergh final at the World Matchplay

Peter Wright will take on Dimitri van den Bergh in the 2021 World Matchplay final after the pair dispatched Michael van Gerwen and Krzysztof Ratajski respectively on Saturday.

World number two Wright was left in tears of joy after defeating rival Van Gerwen 17-10, while Van den Bergh too was left emotional after coming from behind to defeat Ratajski 17-9.

A sensational showing from Wright saw him average 110.37 – the highest ever recorded in a Betfred World Matchplay Semi-Final – to reach his second final in Blackpool.

A highly-anticipated show-down between Wright and Van Gerwen began with the Scot racing in to a 4-1 lead with a high checkout of 121.

The next mini-session was closer, with Van Gerwen taking it 3-2 to trail by just two legs despite a gap of over ten points in the averages.

Wright then stunned the Winter Gardens crowd in leg 12 as he hit eight perfect darts before missing double 12 for a nine-darter, and eventually went on to break again and take an 8-4 lead.

The 51-year-old punished Van Gerwen for missing a dart at the bullseye by taking out 98 in two to move six clear of the Dutchman, completing a sequence of ten, 11 and 11-dart legs.

Van Gerwen then took out 127 to keep the pressure on Wright before another break of throw saw the Dutchman close the gap to three with the score at 10-7.

Van Gerwen finished the 20th leg on double 12 to highlight that there was still a contest on, moving to within two of his opponent, with his match average up to 106.

An incredible 149 finish from Wright, with Van Gerwen sat on 100, gave him a crucial hold of throw to extend the advantage once more and edge closer to the finish line.

More champagne checkouts were to come, as Wright pinned the bullseye for a 121 finish to break throw and move to within three legs of the finish line, before taking the final three legs to win it in style.

“It was tears of joy at the end because Jo [wife] will be here tomorrow,” said Wright.

“She’s done an amazing job – she had her operation last Thursday and came straight to Blackpool so that she could do my hair.

“I told her that she had to stay home and rest but she wanted to come. I’d promised her that she could come to the final if I got there.

“I thought he played really well there and it felt like an amazing game. You know Michael can reel off legs and he did that, but I had to ride that burst of fantastic legs.

“Michael’s the best player in the world and we all know it. For me to be favourite against him shows how well I’ve been playing and my darts have backed that up. It’s probably one of my best performances.

“I’ve dreamed about winning this and picking up that trophy, and now I’m one game away from achieving that dream.”

The opening match of the night saw reigning champion Van den Bergh recover from a slow start to see off 13th seed Ratajski and reach his second successive Matchplay final.

Polish number one Ratajski got off to a strong start, racing in to a 3-0 lead with Van den Bergh struggling to find his scoring range.

Leg eight saw Ratajski punish the defending champion further, pinning tops for a 94 finish to break again and lead 6-2.

Van den Bergh then broke back immediately to close the gap, before a hold of throw saw Ratajski’s lead cut to two legs as the players left the stage for the second break.

After the interval, Van den Bergh took advantage of a rare miss by Ratajski, hitting double eight to break once more and reduce the deficit to just one leg.

A fifth leg in a row and a further break of throw then put Van den Bergh ahead for the first time, with his opponent beginning to miss chances to win legs.

A 128 checkout then doubled the Belgian’s advantage before Ratajski missed a handful of darts, allowing the 27-year-old to win a seventh leg on the spin and take a step closer to victory.

The 17th leg saw Ratajski stop the rot as he went on to win the next three legs and close the gap to one, before a 110 finish from Van den Bergh took the score to 10-8 in his favour.

The match concluded with the defending champion winning seven of the next eight legs punishing Ratajski for hitting just nine of his 35 shots at double and take his place in Sunday’s final.

“I’m ecstatic, with the way the game started, I needed the crowd,” admitted Van den Bergh.

“Krzysztof missed some doubles and I battled back and took my chances, but even when I got in front I didn’t feel in control – but I’m in the final now.

“The crowd knocked me off my feet tonight – it was such a feeling and I can only thank them.

“It would be a dream come true to be the back-to-back World Matchplay champion.

“I’ve done it before with the World Youth Championship and to have the chance to win this in front of a crowd is a dream.

“I want to give the crowd a fantastic game, and I would love to lift the trophy again.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST BETFRED WORLD MATCHPLAY ODDS & SPECIALS (18+)

Betfred World Matchplay 2021 Results

Saturday July 24

Semi-Finals

Dimitri van den Bergh 17-9 Krzysztof Ratajski
Peter Wright 17-10 Michael van Gerwen

Van Gerwen dismisses “twitchy” Wright ahead of World Matchplay Semi-Final

Michael van Gerwen insists Peter Wright “does not have a chance” if he produces his ‘A’ game in their World Matchplay Semi-Final clash on Saturday.

The world number two and three renew their rivalry on the Winter Gardens stage for the right to reach Sunday’s final and remain in the running for the £150,000 title.

The duo have met more times in PDC competition than any other current Tour Card holders and are poised for a potential classic contest over the best of 33 format.

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 Dutch star has been below his best so far and holds the lowest tournament average (96.8) of the final four, but insists his colourful rival will get swept aside if he can find his top form.

“Peter is playing really good darts but he hasn’t met me yet,” said Van Gerwen. “I know if I play my own game, he doesn’t have a chance.”

“Normally when he plays me his bum goes a little bit twitchy.

“Peter is a phenomenal player and when he is on his game, he can make it really difficult, but he also knows when Michael van Gerwen turns up, he can’t win the game.

“It is fact, it is truth. Peter knows it, Gerwyn [Price] knows it. Everyone in the world knows it – if I play my game, no one can beat me.”

Van Gerwen also laughed off Wright’s persistent claims that he WILL win both this year’s Betfred World Matchplay and the World Championship.

He added: “Peter says so much nonsense every tournament, week after week, every televised tournament and we all have to deal with it, unfortunately.

“I just have to make sure I do my own thing and play my own game.

“There’s still more in the tank and I have to show that tomorrow. I missed a lot of doubles and my scoring power wasn’t as good as I wanted.

“Tomorrow’s another really important day, this is history now and tomorrow’s the future.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST WORLD MATCHPLAY ODDS & SPECIALS (18+)

Peter Wright v Michael van Gerwen live stream: World Matchplay 2021 Semi-Final preview

Peter Wright and Michael van Gerwen renew their rivalry in the Semi-Finals of the 2021 World Matchplay in Blackpool on Saturday.

The world number two and three face off on the famous Winter Gardens stage for the right to reach Sunday’s decider and remain in the running for the £150,000 title.

The duo have met more times in PDC competition than any other current Tour Card holders and are poised for a classic contest over the long-haul format.

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 Dutch star 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.

The three-time World Champion then overcame Nathan Aspinall 16-9 in Friday’s Quarter-Final in a below-par contest which saw him average just 94.7 to his opponent’s 90.2.

Van Gerwen is appearing in his fifth Betfred World Matchplay Semi-Final since 2013 – when he suffered his only defeat at the penultimate phase of the competition.

Wright has stormed into a fourth Semi-Final in Blackpool 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 picked up from where he left off.

The number two seed has dropped just 14 legs in his three matches so far, 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.

He then swept aside Michael Smith 16-7 on Friday with a 100.3 average, taking his overall tournament average to 101.77, five points ahead of Van Gerwen.

Van Gerwen won both of their meetings in this year’s Premier League and has dominated the overall head-to-heads, though Wright notably claimed victory in the 2020 World Championship final and goes into their latest show-down as favourite on current form.

The match gets under way from around 8.45pm BST and will be contested over the best of 33 legs.

The match must be won by two clear legs and will be extended if necessary for a maximum of six extra legs before a sudden death leg is required.

Either defending champion Dimitri van den Bergh or Polish ace Krzysztof Ratajski will await the winner in Sunday’s final.

WATCH WRIGHT vs VAN GERWEN STREAMED LIVE HERE (18+)

Wright v Van Gerwen – Player’s View:

Wright: “Mentally and physically I’m in the best place ever and I’m looking forward to the Semi-Final.

“Everybody wants to win this one and it would be amazing if I could do that.

“I just try to wind them all up, If they bite, they bite. I’m backing up what I said so far.”

Van Gerwen: “There’s still more in the tank and I have to show that tomorrow. I missed a lot of doubles and my scoring power wasn’t as good as I wanted.

“Tomorrow’s another really important day, this is history now and tomorrow’s the future.

“Peter is playing really good darts but he hasn’t met me yet. I know if I play my own game, he doesn’t have a chance.”

Dimitri van den Bergh v Krzysztof Ratajski live stream: World Matchplay 2021 Semi-Final preview

Dimitri van den Bergh aims to book his place in a second successive World Matchplay final by ending the run of Krzysztof Ratajski in Blackpool on Saturday.

Van den Bergh claimed the title on his debut behind closed doors in Milton Keynes 12 months ago and has extended his unbeaten record in the event to eight matches.

The Belgian ace is bidding to become only the fourth player to successfully retain the Betfred World Matchplay title since the event began back in 1994.

He opened up with a comfortable 10-5 win over debutant Devon Petersen in Round One before averaging 103.7 and hitting a Second Round record of fourteen 180s in a pulsating 11-8 victory over Dave Chisnall.

The 27-year-old then pulled off a 16-9 victory over world number one Gerwyn Price in the Quarter-Finals with a 102.2 average, dominating a enthralling match which saw antics from both players.

Van den Bergh has already climbed three places in the PDC Order of Merit thanks to his exploits this week and would become world number four if he can retain the title.

Ratajski, meanwhile, came into this event having suffered seven First Round exits on the ProTour this season but has returned to form in emphatic fashion on the iconic Winter Gardens stage.

The Polish number one brushed aside Brendan Dolan 10-4 with a 101.5 average before overpowering Luke Humphries 11-5 with a 99.9 average to reach his second successive Matchplay Quarter-Final.

The number 13 seed broke new ground by overpowering debutant Callan Rydz 16-8 on Thursday to reach his first PDC major Semi-Final.

World Masters champion in 2017, Ratajski continues to go from strength-to-strength and remains unfazed by the big occasion, averaging 99.16 for the tournament.

Van den Bergh boasts a tournament average of 100.58 and 30 maximums to the Pole’s 17, though Ratajski has converted 42 percent of his attempts at doubles to the youngster’s 34.5 percent.

Their first televised meeting to date gets under way from 7.15pm BST and will be contested over the best of 33 legs.

The match must be won by two clear legs and will be extended if necessary for a maximum of six extra legs before a sudden death leg is required.

Either world number two Peter Wright or two-time World Matchplay champion Michael van Gerwen will await the winner in Sunday’s final.

WATCH VAN DEN BERGH vs RATAJSKI STREAMED LIVE HERE (18+)

Van den Bergh v Ratajski – Player’s View:

Van den Bergh: “It’s going to be a big battle on Saturday but I know how good Ratajski is and he showed it again today [Thursday].

“He’s fantastic and I’ve got to be focused and believe in myself.

“It would be unbelievable to be one of those players who defends this title but I’ve got to keep my feet on the ground.”

Ratajski: “I’m really happy and I feel great. It’s really something big for me.

“Every player dreams of winning this trophy so I hope I can play the semi-finals with less mistakes and do better on my doubles.

“It will be the biggest match of my career.”

Wright and Van Gerwen set up World Matchplay Semi-Final show-down

Peter Wright and Michael van Gerwen will collide in the Semi-Finals of the 2021 World Matchplay after seeing off Michael Smith and Nathan Aspinall respectively.

The second and third seeds will do battle for a place in the final following dominant victories at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool on Friday night.

Wright, the 2017 runner-up, swept aside Smith 16-7, averaging 100.3 in a solid display to continue his quest for a maiden Betfred World Matchplay crown.

Wright produced a telling seven-leg burst to pull clear from 6-4 to 13-4 as he continued his bid to lift the Phil Taylor Trophy for a first time.

Smith hit back from 2-0 down to level with an 88 finish and an 11-darter, but Wright claimed three in a row to move 5-2 up before finding top gear.

Smith had pulled back to 6-4, but had no answer to a barrage from the 2020 World Champion as Wright pulled away with seven straight legs which included an 11-darter and three 13-dart finishes.

Smith finished 81, 84 and tops as he pulled back to 13-7 and threatened a comeback, but Wright restored breathing space on double eight and hit successive 14-darters to wrap up the win.

“I’m really happy to be through,” said Wright. “It was enjoyable and we both respected each other up there.

“I didn’t feel totally comfortable tonight. I thought I played not bad, but I felt I’d produce more because I prepared really well.

“I didn’t hit as many 180s as I thought I would and my doubles weren’t great either, but it’s a win and I’m into the semi-finals.

“Michael has the ability to be a World Champion and world number one in the future, but he didn’t play anywhere near his game tonight.

“Mentally and physically I’m in the best place ever and I’m looking forward to the semi-final. Everybody wants to win this one and it would be amazing if I could do that.”

Van Gerwen, meanwhile, battled his way to a 16-9 win over an out of sorts Aspinall, progressing through a contest in which both players missed 27 darts at a double.

Aspinall took the opener on double eight, but it proved to be the only time the former UK Open champion would lead as Van Gerwen reeled off the next three legs to move ahead.

The Dutchman also took out 110 as he opened up a 5-2 cushion, with Aspinall cutting the gap to one leg with a match-high 130 bull finish only to see Van Gerwen pull away.

The two-time champion stormed into an 11-5 lead, and also led 13-7 before Aspinall finished double eight and a 13-darter to kick-start his challenge.

Van Gerwen, though, stopped the fightback in its tracks with a 12-darter before powering in legs of 13 and 11 darts to seal the win.

“It wasn’t my best performance but at least I won,” said Van Gerwen. “It wasn’t good but the most important thing is that I won the game.

“We were both struggling and trying too hard here and there, and it was tough for both of us but I made the most of it at the end.

“Last year at this stage I could have lost this game but I won this time. My mindset is improved and I got through it.

“I know I have to improve tomorrow but at the end of the day it’s all about winning the game and I’m so glad I did that.

“There’s still more in the tank and I have to show that tomorrow. I missed a lot of doubles and my scoring power wasn’t as good as I wanted.

“Tomorrow’s another really important day, this is history now and tomorrow’s the future.”

WATCH WORLD MATCHPLAY DARTS STREAMED LIVE HERE (18+)

Betfred World Matchplay 2021 Results

Friday July 23

Quarter-Finals

Peter Wright 16-7 Michael Smith
Michael van Gerwen 16-9 Nathan Aspinall

Betfred World Matchplay 2021 Day Seven preview and order of play: Star names vie to reach Semi-Finals

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.

Wright and Smith go head-to-head (Photo by Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

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.

WATCH WORLD MATCHPLAY DARTS STREAMED LIVE HERE (18+)

Betfred World Matchplay 2021 Day Seven Schedule

Friday July 23

Quarter-Finals

7.15pm Peter Wright v Michael Smith
8.45pm Michael van Gerwen v Nathan Aspinall

Van den Bergh denies Price as Ratajski also reaches World Matchplay Semi-Finals

Dimitri van den Bergh moved a step closer to defending his World Matchplay title with an eventful 16-9 win over Gerwyn Price in the Quarter-Finals on Thursday.

Reigning champion Van den Bergh produced a superb display to see off World Champion Price in a fascinating battle at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.

The Belgian will be joined in the last four by Polish number one Krzysztof Ratajski – who reached his first PDC major Semi-Final with a 16-8 success over youngster Callan Rydz.

It was Van den Bergh, though, who stole the show once again to continue his bid to retain the Phil Taylor Trophy.

Having hit a remarkable fourteen 180s in his Second Round win over Dave Chisnall, Van den Bergh landed ten further maximums and averaged 102 against the pre-tournament favourite.

Price played his part in an enthralling contest and pulled back from 6-2 down to trail just 8-7 at one stage, only to see Van den Bergh win eight of the next ten legs in a famous win.

Price began the game with a 105 finish and led 2-1, only to miss doubles in four successive legs as Van den Bergh capitalised on each occasion and then took a fifth straight leg to move 6-2 up.

A brace of tops finishes saw Price halve the deficit, before Van den Bergh regained the advantage with legs of 11 and 14 darts.

Price, though, produced two 14-darters of his own in a three-leg burst to cut the gap to 8-7, celebrating with a copy of Van den Bergh’s signature dance going into the game’s third break.

The pair traded 13-darters before the Belgian pulled clear with six straight legs, including three breaks of throw, a 12-darter and a 90 finish on the bull, before taking out 68 to seal his semi-final spot.

“I loved it, the crowd were brilliant and I’m so happy to have won that game,” said Van den Bergh. “I’m ecstatic and I think I was the deserved winner.

“Gerwyn’s the World Champion and world number one and it’s incredible to be playing against him – I like him, he’s a great man and I have a lot of respect for him.

“He was trying everything but I couldn’t let him get into my head. I gave him space and I focused on myself. I had to show a lot of mental strength again.

“My emotions were like a rollercoaster and I’m extremely proud.

“I fought hard and never gave up, and I knew that’s what I had to do against a player like Gerwyn, and it’s unbelievable to beat him 16-9.

“It’s going to be a big battle on Saturday but I know how good Ratajski is and he showed it again today. He’s fantastic and I’ve got to be focused and believe in myself.

“It would be unbelievable to be one of those players who defends this title but I’ve got to keep my feet on the ground.”

Earlier in the night, a relentless Ratajski powered past debutant Rydz to break new ground in Blackpool.

The Polish ace has reached the Last Eight at the World Matchplay, World Championship and UK Open in the past year, but ensured a spot in Saturday’s Semi-Finals in style.

Rydz had seen off Glen Durrant and Rob Cross to reach his first televised Quarter-Final, but never recovered after seeing his opponent open up leads of 3-1, 6-2 and 12-5.

Rydz had punished three misses from the Polish number one to win the game’s opening leg, but was unable to repeat the clinical finishing of his second round win over Cross as Ratajski pulled away.

The 13th seed finished 116 in leg six, an 11-darter in leg 12 and a 105 checkout in the 14th, as he created a seven-leg cushion at 12-5.

Rydz landed tops in two of the next three to hit back, but another 11-darter and a 141 finish from Ratajski proved a hammer blow to the youngster’s comeback hopes before the Polish star closed out a big win on double eight.

“I’m really happy and I feel great,” said Ratajski. “It’s really something big for me.

“My experience was very important – every match on this stage is big and I expected a hard match but Callan was not in his best form.

“I felt comfortable on stage and my average was quite good, especially with so many misses at doubles.

“Every player dreams of winning this trophy so I hope I can play the semi-finals with less mistakes and do better on my doubles. It will be the biggest match of my career.”

WATCH WORLD MATCHPLAY DARTS STREAMED LIVE HERE (18+)

Betfred World Matchplay 2021 Results

Thursday July 22

Quarter-Finals

Krzysztof Ratajski 16-8 Callan Rydz
Gerwyn Price 9-16 Dimitri van den Bergh

Price calls for “respect” from the crowd as he bids for World Matchplay glory

Gerwyn Price has called for the crowd to show him more “respect” as he continues his pursuit of a maiden World Matchplay title.

The world number one finds himself in the Quarter-Finals of the Betfred World Matchplay for the first time since his debut appearance in 2015.

The Welsh ace has picked up four televised titles within the last 12 months, including the World Grand Prix and World Championship, and has looked in ominous form so far this week.

Price began his campaign with a 10-4 rout of Jermaine Wattimena before reeling off eight consecutive legs to seal an 11-3 demolition of his World Cup winning team-mate Jonny Clayton.

Price, who missed out on the Premier League due to a positive Covid test, has received a frosty reception from the Blackpool crowd in his first appearance back in a sell-out venue.

The reigning World Champion admits the boos are “pantomime”, but has called for the fans to show him the respect he feels his achievements warrant.

“They were pretty poor to start with but I sort of shut them up,” Price said after his win over Clayton.

“It obviously annoys me but it makes me player a little bit better. I’m not saying I want it week in, week out, but it makes me concentrate.

“It’s tough enough playing the best players in the world but to have the crowd on your back is extra pressure but I seem to be dealing with it alright.

“Some of the crowd today probably hadn’t even been to the darts they just join in anyway.

“It’s not too bad but maybe a bit of respect now and then wouldn’t hurt.

“I think they do respect what I’ve done, it’s a bit more pantomime and they’re just doing it for a litle bit of fun, but sometimes it’s not fun.”

Price now faces defending champion Dimitri van den Bergh in a mouth-watering Quarter-Final on Thursday and is confident he can end the Belgian’s unbeaten record in the competition.

He added: “I’ve put a message in my own head that I’m playing well, I’m back and I’m there to be feared now.

“I was here to win it from day one but I didn’t know which one of me would turn up but I know now that I’m back, they can all look out.

“I was rusty over the last eight tournaments but today [Wednesday] I was clinical and I’m more confident than ever.

“They need to play really well to beat me.

“This is probably the next best tournament other than the Worlds so I’m happy to be World Champion and to pick this one up as well would prove I am the best in the world.

“I’m not worried what people think as long as I believe in my own head. I know what the players think, so that’s all that matters.”

Price also responded strongly to Peter Wright’s claims that he WILL win both the World Matchplay and World Championship this year, laughing off the Scot’s chances.

“Peter’s playing rubbish, he’s “going to win the Worlds” he’s “going to win this” but he’s won nothing really,” offered Price. “He’s won a couple of ProTours.

“I’m not worried about Peter, I’m not worried about Michael [Van Gerwen], I’m only worried about myself.

“Talk is cheap, you’ve just got to do it on the board.”

Betfred World Matchplay 2021 Day Six preview and order of play: Semi-Final spots up for grabs

The 2021 World Matchplay enters the Quarter-Final stage on Thursday as the reigning champion steps up his title defence and three players vie to enter uncharted territory.

Thirty-two have become eight as the race to lift the Phil Taylor trophy enters the final straight, with five of the world’s top eight left standing.

Day Six of the Betfred World Matchplay plays host to the opening two Quarter-Finals as the stakes and format increase at the Winter Gardens.

Arguably the stand-out tie of the entire Quarter-Final line-up sees defending champion Dimitri van den Bergh take on world number one Gerwyn Price in the second match of the night.

Van den Bergh claimed the title on his debut behind closed doors in Milton Keynes 12 months ago and has extended his unbeaten record in the event to seven matches.

The Belgian ace is bidding to become only the fourth player to successfully retain the World Matchplay title since the event began back in 1994.

He opened up with a comfortable 10-5 win over debutant Devon Petersen in Round One before averaging 103.7 and hitting a Second Round record of fourteen 180s in a pulsating 11-8 victory over Dave Chisnall.

The 27-year-old would climb to fifth in the PDC Order of Merit if he can end a three-match winless run against the reigning World Champion.

Price finds himself in the Last Eight of this event for the first time since his debut appearance in 2015 and is now looking to break new ground and put his Blackpool hoodoo firmly to bed.

The Welsh ace has picked up four televised titles within the last 12 months, including the World Grand Prix and World Championship, and has looked in ominous form so far this week.

Price began his campaign with a 10-4 rout of Jermaine Wattimena before reeling off eight consecutive legs to seal an 11-3 demolition of his World Cup winning team-mate Jonny Clayton.

Price boasts a tournament checkout success rate of 50% to Van den Bergh’s 31.8% and will be out to punish any missed opportunities from the inevitable crowd favourite.

Gerwyn Price reacts (Photo by Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

The opening Quarter-Final sees 13th seed Krzysztof Ratajski take on rising star Callan Rydz – the lowest ranked player in this year’s World Matchplay.

Ratajski came into this event having suffered seven First Round exits on the ProTour this season but has returned to form in emphatic fashion on the iconic Winter Gardens stage.

The Polish number one brushed aside Brendan Dolan 10-4 with a 101.5 average before overpowering Luke Humphries 11-5 with a 99.9 average to reach his second successive Matchplay Quarter-Final.

Ratajski is appearing in his third consecutive major ranking Quarter-Final and fourth in total as he bids to reach the Last Four in front of the TV cameras for the first time as a PDC player.

Rydz, meanwhile, is riding the crest of a wave in a dream debut trip to Blackpool, having secured the 15th qualification place from the ProTour Order of Merit.

The Tyneside thrower came into the event as world number 54 but is already guaranteed to climb at least eight places thanks to his exploits so far and could reach world number 40 if he extends his run.

The 23-year-old, who picked up his first Players Championship title earlier this season, battled past Glen Durrant 10-6 in Round One before defeating 2019 champion Rob Cross 11-8 to reach his first televised Quarter-Final.

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.

WATCH WORLD MATCHPLAY DARTS STREAMED LIVE HERE (18+)

Betfred World Matchplay 2021 Day Six Schedule

Thursday July 22

Quarter-Finals

7.15pm Krzysztof Ratajski v Callan Rydz
8.45pm Gerwyn Price v Dimitri van den Bergh