Betfred World Matchplay Preview...
Gerwyn Price admits he could MISS the boos and whistles with the BetFred World Matchplay goes ahead behind closed doors.
The World No.3 has been the victim of major crowd abuse after his controversial Grand Slam final win over Gary Anderson almost two years ago.
But the fiery Welshman is adamant that constant pressure from the fans has made him a better player and is now ready for anything when the Matchplay starts on Saturday in Milton Keynes.
Price, 35, said: “To be honest when I was getting all that stick, that 12 months period was the best I’ve ever played. It’s the most successful I’ve ever been.
“Even though I thought it was getting on my nerves and people thought it was affecting me, realistically it wasn’t.
“The thing is if you have got that distraction then you seem to concentrate a lot more. Sometimes it just takes a lapse in concentration for you to miss a dart.
“When people are on my back and the boos are there, I’m like focused even more. I’m much more focused on what I need to do.
“They are there in the background and I’m trying to block them out. Whereas if they weren’t doing that then I might lose concentration and miss.
“Having had all this grief for the last 18 months when I’ve had to zone in and concentrate, more so than what other players probably have to, I find it more easy now to concentrate when the boos and whistles are not there.
“I’ve learnt from my experience now how to zone in on my own. I just think I’ve got that little bit of edge over everyone now.”
Price has drawn Dutch ace Danny Noppert in his opening clash at the Marshall Arena, switched from Blackpool’s Winter Gardens so the players and officials can remain in a social bubble.
The Iceman is convinced his aggressive persona can drive him to the very top.
He added: “I’m not a bad person, I’ve just got a stage presence that not a lot of people like. I understand that and I’ve got to deal with it.
“I can’t change the way I am. I’m a decent person off the board and I always have been. The way I am on the board is how I need to perform to the best of my ability intensity wise. Without that I’m not the same person or the same player.
“Looking back the results, prize money and how I was going up the rankings, it wasn’t affecting me.
“I knew eventually that it would die off, not completely, but it would fade and it did.
“Even when it was fading I was always armoured and ready for any situation as well. They made me into a better player.
“People knew when they were playing me and I was having stick off the crowd that I was still beating them. When I wasn’t getting the stick, they must have been thinking ‘how am I going to beat him now’.
“It’s just a mind over matter thing, I knew it was going to die out eventually. It might never go completely but I’m not worried about that. As long as I get a fair crack of the whip then I’m happy.
“Of course I can believe I can be World No.1 and World Champion. I don’t want to be someone who just turned up at ProTours, got to quarters and semis. I’d like to be up the top and dominating like Michael van Gerwen and Phil Taylor.
“I think maybe in three, four, five years, I think that’s where I can be. I think I will become World Champion one day, it’s just when.”
Exclusive by Phil Lanning
Pictures by Taylor Lanning
F: Phil Lanning