Simon Whitlock progressed through to the Grand Slam of Darts quarter-finals with a battling 10-6 victory over Adam Hunt on Friday night, setting up a potential showdown with Michael van Gerwen in the last eight.
Van Gerwen takes on Gary Anderson in what promises to be an enthralling last 16 tussle at the Ricoh Arena this evening, although speaking in his post-match press conference, Whitlock revealed that he believes Anderson will account for the world No 1.
‘The Wizard’ has already beaten ‘Mighty Mike’ at both the World Matchplay and World Grand Prix this year, but the Dutchman has shown signs that he’s returning to his blistering best in Coventry, advancing through Group A with maximum points – relinquishing just four legs in the process.
The three-time world champion boasts a tournament average of 99.45 and is an emphatic favourite with the bookmakers to dump out ‘The Flying Scotsman’, who has been struggling throughout the tournament with a knee problem.
Anderson defeated MvG in their last meeting during the Premier League in August, but the 31-year-old had triumphed in their last eight clashes and will fancy his chances of progressing to his seventh consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final over the elongated format.
Whitlock is embarking on his fourth Grand Slam quarter-final, though surprisingly ‘The Wizard’ is yet to reach the last four in ten appearances – a record he’s determined to rectify.
“It would be amazing. It’s going to take a big effort to beat either Gary or Michael next round, but I’m ready for it. I actually think Gary will win, so let’s see what happens,” Whitlock told Live Darts.
The Australian is only too aware that he’ll have to improve on his second round display against Hunt, which saw him average a modest 87.05, but as he prepares for his third major ranking quarter-final of 2020, he told OnlineDarts that he’ll be ready for the task in hand.
“I’ve only had two days off in the last 15. The next game I play I’m going to be 100 per cent switched on. I’m not going to be as bad as I was today. I’m going to be there for the kill again.”
Image Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC