World Grand Prix - Preview

DARYL GURNEY will begin his defence of the Unibet World Grand Prix title against John Henderson in Sunday's opening night of the 400,000 pound tournament.
The tournament will begin with a clash between World Matchplay semi-finalist Jeffrey de Zwaan and Kim Huybrechts, with reigning champion Gurney beginning the defence of his title against Henderson later on the opening night.

Scottish ace Henderson knocked out world number one Michael van Gerwen to begin his run to the semi-finals in Dublin last year, where he eventually lost out 4-1 to Gurney, and the Northern Irishman is aware of the tough task he faces.

"I can't believe it's been a year since I won it," Gurney admitted. "It was such a special night and a memory I will never forget but now I am focused only on the here and now, and that means defending my title. "I know it will be a tough test against John, of course he beat Michael here in the first round last year but he also beat Raymond van Barneveld so he will be a big threat. Hopefully I will play my best game and get off to a good start."
Last year's runner-up Whitlock is hoping to go one better at this year's event, and the iconic Australian is in positive mood heading into his round one tie with James Wilson.
"Last year was a good tournament for me - it was a case of 'close but no cigar' as they say," said Whitlock. "I actually like the double-start and double-finish, it's one of my favourite tournaments. "I really enjoyed the week in Dublin last year, it was a dream to get to a major final again after a few years without making one."

The opening night will also see three-time champion Van Gerwen face rising Irish talent Steve Lennon, who is making his World Grand Prix debut, and the Dutchman is keen to put a run of TV disappointments behind him.

"I've always played my best stuff at this time of year," said the world number one. "This year it is important that I do even better because I'm not happy with some of my results so far, especially in the TV events. "I'm still doing really well and winning more than anybody else but I want to dominate. I do not think it is possible to win every tournament these days but I go into every tournament seeing anything less than winning as a failure."

Two-time World Champion Gary Anderson is targeting a fifth televised title of the year in Dublin and begins his campaign against Welshman Jonny Clayton. Anderson was a finalist in the 2016 tournament, where he lost out to Van Gerwen, but was absent from the 2017 event due to the birth of his second child and is now keen to make up for lost time.

"I missed it last year and it will be great to get back there," said Anderson, who has already won the UK Open, World Matchplay, Champions League of Darts and US Darts Masters in 2018. "I'd love to win it and I always enjoy playing in Ireland. "It will be a very hard game against Jonny Clayton. He's probably the best Welsh player at the moment, he's a nice bloke and class on the board."

World Champion Rob Cross will begin his quest for the 100,000 top prize against Steve Beaton on Monday night, which will also see arguably the pick of the first round ties take place as world number nine Michael Smith faces former finalist Adrian Lewis.
Two-time winner James Wade will play sixth seed Mensur Suljovic in another tasty tie, while world number two Peter Wright will take on Steve West and former finalist Mervyn King will meet rapid-firing Dutchman Jermaine Wattimena.

The second round of the double-start tournament will be split across Tuesday and Wednesday, with the quarter-finals on Thursday night and semi-finals on Friday night.
The final, on Saturday October 6, will be preceded by the Tom Kirby Memorial between Kevin Burness and Mick McGowan, as they battle for the top domestic honour and a place in the William Hill World Darts Championship.

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