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Article: Stan James World Match Play - Preview

Stan James World Match Play - Preview

THE 15th Stan James World Matchplay begins on Sunday, with 32 players battling for a record £300,000 at Blackpool^s Winter Gardens.

James Wade, the current world number three, will be defending his title at the Winter Gardens, with Phil Taylor bidding for a ninth World Matchplay win in the seven-day tournament.

Wade, who won June^s UK Open and reached the final of the Las Vegas Desert Classic earlier this month, opens his challenge against Wayne Jones on Tuesday evening, having prepared by spending two days in Holland practising with world number two Raymond van Barneveld.

"I^m very pleased with how the year^s gone so far but this is a new challenge for me, defending my title," said Wade, who defeated Terry Jenkins 18-7 in last year’s final.

"I love the Winter Gardens, it^s a great tournament and the atmosphere is very special.

"I^ve prepared well for this, I practised harder with Raymond van Barneveld for two days than I probably would have in England and that should benefit me."

Wade claimed a third major title when he won June^s UK Open, but has been defeated by Phil Taylor in the Premier League Darts final and the recent Las Vegas Desert Classic this year.

"Winning the UK Open was fantastic but I know I didn^t produce my best darts, and Phil was the better man in the Premier League and Las Vegas Desert Classic finals," added Wade.

"But on those days I played him after playing semi-finals, as he had too, and I^d love to have another crack at him going fresh into a game.

"He beat me in the 2006 World Matchplay final but I^ve come a long way since then and I^d love to challenge him."


was a semi-final loser to Terry Jenkins in Blackpool 12 months ago, but has been the most successful player in the tournament^s history, with his eight titles including five in a row from 2000-2004.

"It^s been a successful venue for and it^s my favourite venue as well," said Taylor, who meets Steve Beaton on Monday night.

"The atmosphere is superb and it^s got lots of special memories - and hopefully I can create some more this week.

"It was disappointing to lose in the semis last year but I^ve put that behind me now.

"This year has a lot better so far, and it^s all down to hard work and dedication. Even on holiday in Los Angeles after winning Las Vegas I was practising every day because I know I have to."

Taylor, who stayed with Stoke-born pop star Robbie Williams in Los Angeles, has been practising ahead of the event with Mark Frost, a qualifier from Stoke making his debut in the World Matchplay this week against van Barneveld.

"I^ve seen potential in Mark for years, but with working and having a family it^s been difficult for him to break through on the professional scene," added Taylor.

"But if Mark takes onto stage the game he practises he has a very good chance against Raymond."

Van Barneveld is determined to get his year back on track, having lost in the semi-finals of the Premier League and also failed in his bid to defend his titles at the UK Open and Las Vegas Desert Classic.

"I am very motivated to show what I am capable of," said van Barneveld. "So far this year hasn^t brought me the success I had in 2007 but it^s not over yet.

"In 2007, the first six months were the most successful ones and hopefully this year it will be the last six months.

"Since the UK Open I^ve been working hard to improve my ^darts fitness^ - I^ve had a tough practice regime and been doing two long sessions a day as well as going to the gym."

The Dutchman made his World Matchplay debut 12 months ago, losing in the quarter-finals to Adrian Lewis, but added: "It^s one of the greatest tournaments we have.

"There are lots of enthusiastic fans and it^s held in a beautiful venue, and every player wants to be involved.

"I^ll have to start well because Mark Frost is a very good player. He^s shown that on the PDC circuit this year and done well to qualify, so I can^t under-estimate him."

The opening night, live on Sky Sports from 7pm on Sunday, features three games, including 2005 champion Colin Lloyd taking on Mark Walsh, and a fourth meeting in five years at the World Matchplay between Wayne Mardle and Mark Dudbridge.

Dudbridge took victory en route to the final in 2004, but Mardle has won their last two encounters, including a 10-7 win in the first round 12 months ago.

"We seem to bring out the best in each other, and he plays well in Blackpool," said Mardle. "I think it^s a place where we both feel comfortable and I^m hoping it^s going to be a good game."

Mardle has lost in his first game at both the UK Open and Las Vegas Desert Classic this summer, and added: "I^ve just got to tighten my game up and focus a bit more.

"When I lost to Adrian Lewis in the UK Open I played well but missed a shot to win it, and when Adrian Gray beat me in Las Vegas, I didn^t play particularly well but I still had a few chances."

Tickets are still available for the Stan James World Matchplay, visit the Winter Gardens Box Office for more details or call 0844 856 1111.

All sessions are screened live in the UK on Sky Sports.

2008 Stan James World Matchplay Schedule of Play

Sunday 20 July

7pm Start

First Round - Best of 19 legs

Colin Lloyd v Mark Walsh

Wayne Mardle v Mark Dudbridge

Colin Osborne v Mervyn King

Monday 21 July

1pm Start

Dennis Priestley v Adrian Gray

Kevin Painter v Tony Eccles

Roland Scholten v Matt Clark

Terry Jenkins v Alex Roy

7pm Start

John Part v Chris Mason

Adrian Lewis v Kevin McDine

Phil Taylor v Steve Beaton

Raymond van Barneveld v Mark Frost

Tuesday 22 July

1pm Start

Ronnie Baxter v Andy Smith

Alan Tabern v Vincent van der Voort

Andy Hamilton v Michael van Gerwen

Peter Manley v Denis Ovens

7pm Start

James Wade v Wayne Jones

Second Round - Best of 25 legs

Taylor/Beaton v Osborne/King

Lewis/McDine v Lloyd/Walsh

Wednesday 23 July

1pm Start

Jenkins/Roy v Priestley/Gray

Part/Mason v Tabern/van der Voort

Hamilton/van Gerwen v Mardle/Dudbridge

7pm Start

Scholten/Clark v Manley/Ovens

Van Barneveld/Frost v Painter/Eccles

Wade/Jones v Baxter/Smith

Thursday 24 July

12.30pm Start

Quarter-Finals - Best of 31 legs

Jenkins/Roy/Priestley/Gray v Part/Mason/Tabern/van der Voort

Scholten/Clark/Manley/Ovens v Wade/Jones/Baxter/Smith

7pm Start

Van Barneveld/Frost/Painter/Eccles v Hamilton/van Gerwen/Mardle/Dudbridge

Taylor/Beaton/Osborne/King v Lewis/McDine/Lloyd/Walsh

Friday 25 July

7pm Start

Semi-Finals - Best of 33 legs

Saturday 26 July

7pm Start

Final - Best of 35 legs

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