JONNY CLAYTON can’t wait to sample the famous Winter Gardens atmosphere for the first time as he makes his BetVictor World Matchplay debut in Blackpool this Saturday.
The Welsh star has made huge strides over the last two years, culminating in the biggest win of his career in April as he claimed the Austrian Darts Open trophy.
Clayton’s triumph in Graz qualified him for a number of televised tournaments throughout the year and he is now determined to make his mark on TV.
“I can’t wait to play on the Winter Gardens stage, I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time now,” said Clayton, who represented Wales at the World Cup of Darts last month.
My confidence is on a high and now I want to show everyone how good I can be on one of the biggest stages in world darts.
"Being a dart player, these are the tournaments you want to play in and slowly but surely I’m making my way into more and more of the big TV events.
“Everyone always says Blackpool has an amazing atmosphere and now I’ve got the chance to experience it for myself which really excites me.”
Clayton won his first PDC ranking title at Players Championship 22 in Barnsley last October, before coming runner-up at the Players Championship Finals a month later, and has also qualified for the World Grand Prix and European Championship later this year.
The Pontyberem ace is keen to use his recent success as a springboard to more titles and believes there is no limit to what he can achieve this year.
“I keep improving my game and taking steps toward the top end of the rankings,” Clayton added.
The win in Austria was huge for me, I was so happy to have won my first European Tour title and now I want to add more.
“I’m in my fourth year playing in the PDC now, and it’s been a real learning curve.
“I’ve learned so much from all the players and I feel confident that my approach to the TV tournaments will be spot on.”
“I’ve set myself a target of getting into the top 16, which I am a little bit closer to now but who knows how far I could go.”
The 43-year-old faces a tough assignment on the opening night of the tournament as he takes on Premier League Darts finalist Michael Smith.
“I’ve got total respect for Michael as a person and a dart player,” said Clayton.
“It will be a real challenge to beat him but it’s one I’m looking forward to massively.
“My preparation has gone very well, I’ve had my head down on the practice board for the last few weeks so hopefully my hard work will pay off.”
Watch Jonny in action at The BetVictor World Matchplay, which will be broadcast on Sky Sports from July 21-29. For tickets, call the Winter Gardens Box Office on 0844 856 1111 or buy online at pdc.seetickets.com.
Thomas Cook Sport Breaks and Hospitality Packages are also available. See www.pdc.tv/tickets for full details and ticket information.
2018 BetVictor World Matchplay
Schedule of Play
Saturday July 21 (7pm)
Adrian Lewis v James Wilson
Dave Chisnall v Keegan Brown
Michael van Gerwen v Jeffrey de Zwaan
Michael Smith v Jonny Clayton
Sunday July 22
Afternoon Session (1pm)
Darren Webster v Steve Lennon
Ian White v Max Hopp
Gerwyn Price v Joe Cullen
Daryl Gurney v Steve West
Evening Session (7.30pm)
Mensur Suljovic v Steve Beaton
Gary Anderson v Stephen Bunting
Rob Cross v Mervyn King
Raymond van Barneveld v Kyle Anderson
Monday July 23 (7pm)
Kim Huybrechts v John Henderson
Simon Whitlock v Richard North
James Wade v Jermaine Wattimena
Peter Wright v Jelle Klaasen
Tuesday July 24 (7pm)
Chisnall/Brown v Smith/Clayton
Gurney/West v Price/Cullen
Van Gerwen/De Zwaan v Lewis/Wilson
G Anderson/Bunting v Van Barneveld/K Anderson
Wednesday July 25 (7pm)
Whitlock/North v Wade/Wattimena
Suljovic/Beaton v White/Hopp
Cross/King v Webster/Lennon
Wright/Klaasen v Huybrechts/Henderson
Thursday July 26 (7pm)
Friday July 27 (7pm)
Saturday July 28 (7pm)
Sunday July 29 (7pm)
First Round - Best of 19 legs
Second Round - Best of 21 legs
Quarter-Finals - Best of 31 legs
Semi-Finals - Best of 33 legs
Final - Best of 35 legs
Winner - £115,000
Runner-Up - £55,000
Semi-Finalists - £30,000
Quarter-Finalists - £17,500
Second Round Losers - £11,000
First Round Losers - £7,000
Total - £500,000