WHITLOCK SET TO SHINE IN BLACKPOOL
Simon Whitlock believes that he is on the brink of sealing his first PDC major title and is hoping to take his maiden televised triumph in the Betfair World Matchplay.
‘The Wizard’ has reached the semi-finals of both the Ladbrokes World Championship and the Cash Converters World Cup in 2012, as well as the final of the McCoy’s Premier League.
The Australian ace, who has made it to at least the quarter-finals in each of the last seven pro-tour events, feels like he has got everything in place to take glory at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens next week.
"This could be the one,” said Whitlock, the world number six.
"I think I am at the stage where I can win something now. I’ve always had the belief, but you need the form to go with it. I believe that I have got that at the moment.”
Whitlock thinks that the field at the prestigious tournament, where 32 players will compete for the £100,000 first prize, is the strongest ever and knows that he will have to be at his best to avoid an upset when he meets young Dutch talent Michael van Gerwen in the first round.
"I am pretty confident but Michael has been playing a lot better this year,” said ‘The Wizard’, who beat van Gerwen in the World Championships in December.
"He has won a few floor tournaments so far but I’m in pretty good form too. It should be a good game and it is the only one I’m thinking about.
"I know who is in my half of the draw but I am focusing on the first game because that is the only way to approach a tournament like this.
"I think that there will be a lot of shocks in Blackpool, so I have to be at my best to make sure that I’m not one of them.”
Whitlock reached the semi-finals at the Winter Gardens in 2010 before succumbing to an inspired comeback by Andy Hamilton in the quarters last year, losing 17-15 after he had led 15-8.
Having ended his Hamilton hoodoo with victory over ‘The Hammer’ in their Premier League semi-final, which included a spectacular nine-darter, the bearded sensation now hopes to take the Matchplay by storm.
"I have had some bad memories there to be honest,” admitted Whitlock, who is defending £25,000 in ranking prize money in Blackpool.
"Everyone talks about the lead I lost to Andy last year but I was just as gutted when I missed out on the final the year before.
"I’m hoping to banish those memories and replace them with some good ones this time.
"I try not to think too much about the rankings because it puts extra pressure on me but I know what I’ve got to do and I have high expectations of myself.”
Whitlock’s first round clash with van Gerwen will take place at approximately 10.00pm on Sunday.
By Chris Murphy
Keep up to date with the latest news, results, exhibitions and events involving Simon ‘The Wizard’ Whitlock via his Official Facebook Fan Page or on twitter @SWhitlock180