Peter Wright has admitted that he’s been ‘struggling big time’, after showing signs of a return to form by reaching the final of the European Darts Open in Leverkusen over the weekend.
The world number two has endured a nightmare month, which began when he suffered a shock opening-round defeat at the UK Open against 18-year-old Irishman Nathan Rafferty – a tournament in which Wright was defending champion.
He then suffered a whitewash defeat against Gary Anderson in the final of Players Championship Three, before registering a combined total of just two victories across the next three Pro Tour events.
However, most notably, ‘Snakebite’ suffered three consecutive 7-1 drubbings in the Premier League at the hands of Mensur Suljovic, Michael Smith and Raymond van Barneveld respectively, which has left him facing the prospect of elimination on Judgement Night.
Wright averaged 91.54, 82.91 and 88.18 in the three defeats and is currently languishing in the elimination places on legs difference, with games against Simon Whitlock and Daryl Gurney remaining before the cut-off.
He appeared to be plagued by a shoulder injury in his defeat against Smith, but he insisted he had returned to fitness prior to his clash against Van Barneveld, before producing another sub-standard performance on home turf in Glasgow.
Nevertheless, he showed signs of a return to form in Leverkusen over the weekend, claiming the scalps of Luke Woodhouse, John Henderson, Joe Cullen and James Wade to reach the European Darts Open Final, only to lose out in a deciding-leg thriller to Michael van Gerwen.
Wright averaged 105.98 in his opening-round win over Woodhouse, before posting another ton-topping average to see off his fellow Scot John Henderson. He then produced a clinical display of finishing to defeat Joe Cullen and reach the last four, where he then averaged 103.30 and converted 86% of his attempts at double to dump out James Wade.
Wright led 5-1 against Van Gerwen in an extraordinary finale, but relinquished his advantage as ‘Mighty Mike’ produced a devastating burst of form to clinch seven out of the last nine legs; denying Wright a first title of 2018. The Scot agonisingly wired one match dart at the bullseye for an 8-5 victory, but he was opting to take the positives.
The world number two admitted: “I’ve been struggling big time, and to take seven legs off Michael van Gerwen – the best player there is at the moment – makes me very happy. I thought the bullseye [to win] was going, I was ready to shake his hand but it wasn’t to be.”
Nevertheless, the attention for Snakebite now switches to securing Premier League survival, as he takes on Simon Whitlock in Belfast. Wright suffered elimination back in 2015 but will certainly feel he has unfinished business in this competition having missed six match darts to defeat Van Gerwen in his last year’s final; but can he beat the drop?
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC