Barney Confident For Grand Slam Defence
RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD revitalised his career by taking glory in the William Hill Grand Slam of Darts, and he returns to Wolverhampton this weekend with high hopes of retaining the crown.
The Dutch star won his first major individual title for five years when he swept through the field at the Wolves Civic 12 months ago, defeating compatriot Michael van Gerwen in the final.
He has since reached major semi-finals in the World Championship, Premier League, UK Open and at last week's inaugural Masters event in Edinburgh, where he was defeated 10-9 by Adrian Lewis in a classic after earlier seeing off Dave Chisnall and van Gerwen.
"I played really well in Scotland and it has given me a real confidence boost," said van Barneveld, who opens his Grand Slam challenge in Group E against Ricky Evans on Saturday before then taking on Tony O'Shea and Mervyn King.
"Confidence is very important in this game. You only have to look at last year when I won the Grand Slam. That gave me belief in myself again and I haven’t done too badly since then.
"My self-belief has increased again from The Masters. Not only from beating Michael but also Dave Chisnall, who has been playing very well, and I gave Adrian Lewis a very tough game in the semi-final.
"I'm definitely on the right track and that gives me confidence at a crucial time of year, with the World Championship around the corner.
"Winning a sixth World Championship is always in the back of my mind. I'm playing good darts and you never know, that could happen - but I’ve got a title to defend first.
"I haven't played Tony for many years. He is a top player in the BDO so I am excited to play him.
"Ricky got through to the World Youth Championship final and a ProTour final last weekend so I know he is dangerous, and Mervyn is Mervyn; he never plays a bad game, but if I play like I can I would expect to go through.
"I'm going to approach this tournament the same as I did last year, play without pressure and see how far I go."
Read an exclusive interview with Raymond van Barneveld in the William Hill Grand Slam of Darts programme - available at the Wolves Civic during the tournament and online through www.burghleydarts.com.
Tickets for the William Hill Grand Slam of Darts are still available for some sessions, and can be purchased by calling the Wolves Civic Box Office on 0870 320 7000 or by visiting www.wolvescivic.co.uk.