Daryl ​Gurney eyes-up spot in the semi-final of World Matchplay at Blackpool Winter Gardens

​​Daryl Gurney insists he’s a more complete player now than when he was ranked inside the world’s top three, as he bids to continue his resurgent run at the Betfred World Matchplay today.
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Gurney has reaffirmed his credentials with some sparkling displays at the Winter Gardens, dumping out former cham-pions Rob Cross and Gary Anderson to progress to the last eight.

The Northern Irishman became the first player to claim a trio of wins over Anderson on the World Matchplay stage on Tuesday night, averaging over 104 to cap off a stunning display.

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He also fended off a valiant fightback from 2019 champion Cross in a dramatic first round tussle, reeling off three consecutive legs from 10-9 down to prevail in a thrilling tie-break.

Daryl GurneyDaryl Gurney
Daryl Gurney

“I’m really proud of how I’ve approached both games,” claimed Gurney. “I’ve been putting in so much hard work and dedication this year, and I definitely believe I’ve got another TV title in me.

“The key ingredient you need is belief.

"I’m starting to believe now, and that means a lot.”

The big-name exodus in Blackpool continued on Tuesday night, as world number one Michael Smith and last year’s runner-up Gerwyn Price crashed out in the last 16.

The pair joined reigning champion Michael van Gerwen in bowing out before the halfway stage, which guarantees a first-time finalist in the top half of the draw.

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Gurney is the most decorated player left in that section, having lifted televised titles at the World Grand Prix and Players Championship Finals in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

These wins elevated the 37-year-old to career-high of third in the world, although he believes he’s playing better than ever, as he sets his sights on capturing the Phil Taylor Trophy on Sunday.

“I feel like I’m a better player now compared to when I won those majors,” revealed Gurney, a two-time semi-finalist at the Empress Ballroom.

“In my earlier days, I felt I could outscore anybody on the 180s, but my finishing let me down, so it got to a stage where I had to smarten up on my doubles.

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“That’s what I have been focusing on. If I can keep scoring well and keep my finishing together, I will be hard to beat, because they’re both at a high-level at the moment.

“The standard is so good now though. I’ll be doing well to get back into the top 16 or the top ten, but I’ve still got the dedication, the drive and I still believe I’ve got these extra gears in me.”

Gurney will now play Joe Cullen in Thursday’s opening quarter-final, after the former Premier League runner-up produced an inspired display of finishing to dump out tournament favourite Price.

The pair have not met on the televised stage since January 2022, when Cullen swept aside Gurney on his way to a landmark Masters success.

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“I only take one game at time, and it will be tough against Joe Cullen, who is playing really, really well,” added the two-time TV title winner.

“Joe came within a thickness of a wire of winning the Premier League last year. He’s such a great player, but it doesn’t matter what they do, it’s all about what I do.

“They all know I can play darts, and if I keep doing what I’m doing, I can beat anybody.”

Thursday’s other last eight tussle will see stablemates Nathan Aspinall and Chris Dobey lock horns, after they came through last 16 ties against Danny Noppert and Smith respectively.

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Aspinall is featuring in his third consecutive World Matchplay quarter-final, while Dobey has already broken new ground in Blackpool, having never won a game at this event prior to this year.

The reigning Masters champion edged out 2007 winner James Wade in his opener, before winning nine of the last 11 legs to stun World Champion Smith, overturning a 5-2 deficit in the process.

2023 Betfred World MatchplayThursday July 20 (8pm start)


Joe Cullen v Daryl Gurney

Chris Dobey v Nathan Aspinall