AUSTRALIAN pair Simon Whitlock and Kyle Anderson will clash in the first round of the inaugural Unibet Melbourne Darts Masters on Friday, while Phil Taylor has been paired with top New Zealander Cody Harris.

Perth's Anderson claimed his first TV title at last weekend's Auckland Darts Masters, seeing off Australian number one Whitlock along the way before overcoming World Youth Champion Corey Cadby in the final.

Anderson and Whitlock - the former European Championship winner - were drawn together in a plum first round tie for the inaugural World Series of Darts event in Melbourne, which begins on Friday night.

Having been the leading Australian star for a decade, Whitlock has spoken of his pride in taking the World Series to another new venue at the Hisense Arena.

"It means a lot for me to be here," said Whitlock. "I'm a proud Australian so it’s great to play in front of an Aussie crowd.

"Melbourne is known for high quality professional sport, so hopefully we can carry that on.

"I feel great, the darts are going well and I'm looking forward to getting up there. I need to do a bit better than I did in Auckland but with my confidence levels where they are there's no reason I can't win it."

Whitlock and Anderson have teamed up to represent Australia in the PDC World Cup of Darts for the past two years, and the pony-tailed star added: "It was great to see Kyle win last week.

"I would have liked it to have been me, but Kyle is a great guy and fully deserved to get the win in Auckland.

"To see some new Australian talent come through in Kyle and Corey Cadby is massive for the sport over here. If as a group we can all start playing well consistently then it can only be good for Australian darts."

Melbourne-based Cadby will face five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld as he looks to enhance his growing reputation by following up his wins over Peter Wright, Michael Smith and Phil Taylor in Auckland with another big-name victim.

Taylor, the legendary 16-time World Champion and a winner of six previous World Series events in Australia, will meet emerging Kiwi star Cody Harris in another tasty first round tie.

Top seed Gary Anderson, May's Dubai Darts Masters winner, will meet DPA Qualifier Justin Thompson, who is making his TV debut in Melbourne this weekend.

Another newcomer to the big-stage, Sutherland-based real estate business owner Dave Marland, has drawn Northern Ireland's Daryl Gurney, who reached the U.S. Darts Masters final last month.

Number three seed James Wade faces New Zealand-born Koha Kokiri, while reigning UK Open champion Wright plays Hoppers Crossing's Rhys Mathewson and Michael Smith drew Perth-based qualifier David Platt.

Following Friday's first round at the Hisense Arena, play continues on Saturday (7pm) with the quarter-finals before culminating with the semi-finals and final on Sunday (7pm).

Tickets for the Unibet Melbourne Darts Masters are available from www.ticketek.com.au or by calling 132 849.

Unibet Melbourne Darts Masters
Draw Bracket

Gary Anderson (1) v Justin Thompson
Daryl Gurney v Dave Marland
Peter Wright (4) v Rhys Mathewson
Michael Smith v David Platt
Raymond van Barneveld (2) v Corey Cadby
Phil Taylor v Cody Harris
James Wade (3) v Koha Kokiri
Simon Whitlock v Kyle Anderson

Schedule of Play
Friday August 18 (7pm)

First Round
Daryl Gurney v Dave Marland
Peter Wright v Rhys Mathewson
James Wade v Koha Kokiri
Michael Smith v David Platt
Phil Taylor v Cody Harris
Raymond van Barneveld v Corey Cadby
Gary Anderson v Justin Thompson
Simon Whitlock v Kyle Anderson
Best of 11 legs

Saturday August 19 (7pm)
Quarter-Finals
Order of Play TBC
Best of 19 legs

Sunday August 20 (7pm)
Semi-Finals
Final
Best of 21 legs

TV Partners
Fox Sports     Australia
Sky Sport     New Zealand
ITV         UK (Delayed with 7pm BST start on Friday, 6pm BST start on Saturday and 8pm BST start on Sunday)
Setanta     Ireland
RTL7         Netherlands (Delayed highlights with 10pm local time start on Friday & Saturday & 10.40pm Sunday)
OSN         Middle East & North Africa
DAZN         Germany, Japan & Canada
CCTV         China
Madison Online    China
Fox Sports     Asia
Kwese        South Africa & Sub-Sahara Africa
Viasat        Scandinavia
Nova        Czech Republic
Eleven Sports     USA
PDCTV-HD via www.pdc.tv    For Rest of the World Subscribers (outside UK, Ireland & Netherlands)

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