Clayton: “It’s a story I’m loving every second of”

Jonny Clayton is riding the crest of a wave. Less than 12 months ago, ‘The Ferret’ was barely in the conversation when it came to potential major winners, yet now he’s arguably the best player on planet darts.

The amiable Welshman added another title to his growing haul at the World Series Finals in Amsterdam over the weekend, defeating world No 5 Dimitri Van den Bergh 11-6 to scoop his fourth major crown of 2021.

Clayton attributes his meteoric rise to his World Cup success alongside Gerwyn Price in November 2020, but he’s since established himself as a world-class operator in his own right, and his current status as world No 8 does him a disservice.

The 47-year-old secured his first individual major title at the season-opening Masters in January, and he was subsequently rewarded with a debut in the Premier League – a competition he would win just months later.

Clayton remained on the periphery of the world’s top 10 due to both titles coming in non-ranking tournaments, although his first major ranking success came just weeks ago at the World Grand Prix, where he produced a quite remarkable display to oust his compatriot Price 5-1 in a thrilling final.

Having missed out on a European Championship spot due to the contentious qualification criteria, the diminutive Welshman returned to winning ways in emphatic fashion on Dutch soil, beating Price and Michael van Gerwen en route to glory on Sunday.

Clayton brushed aside Vincent van der Voort 6-1 in his opener on Saturday evening, before producing an inspired comeback from 7-2 down to stun world No 1 Price in an absorbing last-leg affair.

The world No 8 then delivered a dominant display to complete a resounding 11-6 win over home favourite Van Gerwen – his seventh win in his last 11 meetings against ‘Mighty Mike’ – before he recovered from 5-4 adrift to overwhelm Van den Bergh in another quality-contest.

Clayton’s exploits saw him follow in the footsteps of Van Gerwen, Phil Taylor and Gary Anderson by becoming just the fourth player in PDC history to win four individual televised titles in a calendar year, and he conceded he’s even surprised himself.

“If someone told me in January what I would achieve this year I wouldn’t have believed them. It’s a story I’m loving every second of and I hope there’s plenty more to come,” Clayton told the PDC.

“It’s been one heck of a ride and I hope it doesn’t stop anytime soon. I don’t know if I am [the best player in the world at the moment], but I don’t want to get dragged into talking about that.

“I just try my best and I’m a believer that if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. It’s going well for me at the moment, I’m just enjoying it. It’s another title under my belt and I’m loving every second.”

Only Peter Wright can match Clayton’s haul of six PDC titles in 2021, and ‘The Ferret’ will be bidding to continue his prolific form at Super Series 8 in Barnsley this week, ahead of the impending Grand Slam of Darts in Wolverhampton.

However, the five-time PDC major winner could be forgiven for setting his sights on a World Championship tilt at Alexandra Palace next month, and his odds for the sport’s flagship event have been slashed to 13/2 following his success in Amsterdam.

Image Credit: Kelly Deckers/PDC

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