Glen Durrant is aiming to end a rollercoaster year on a high by rediscovering his form at the William Hill World Darts Championship.
The tenacious Teesider, who won three Lakeside Championships, tasted televised glory in the PDC for the first time when he won the Unibet Premier League Play-Offs in October having become only the third player to top the league table following in the footsteps of Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen.
Just days later, however, Durrant tested positive for COVID-19 and started experiencing symptoms when he was self-isolating – forcing him to miss the Unibet European Championship.
The 50-year-old has struggled to find his form since but is hopeful that a return to Alexandra Palace could spark a revival.
“Coronavirus has hit me hard,” said Durrant.
“After becoming Premier League Champion my darting career went downhill quickly. I got coronavirus and I was very poorly, so it has been a year of ups and downs for me. I’m getting stronger by the day though and I’m feeling as strong as an ox now and ready to give it a go.
“If you had asked me about my expectations the day after the Premier League, I would have been saying that I’m here to win it and feeling really confident but I’m in a real slump right now stemming from being unwell. I am a winner though. I’m a champion and I don’t go to any tournament without thinking I can win it.”
Durrant believes he has learned lessons from his World Championship debut, which ended in quarter-final defeat to Gerwyn Price after impressive victories over Damon Heta, Daryl Gurney and Chris Dobey.
“The World Championship last year was really special,” he said.
“Ally Pally was everything I hoped it would be and I had a great run to the quarter-finals, but I probably wasn’t fit enough to go all the way. I’ve tried to work on that side of things this year.
"By the time I played Gerwyn Price I was probably out of juice and pretty much running on adrenaline alone.”
Durrant takes on Brazil’s Diogo Portela in his opening match this evening and his planning on taking the first step on the path to achieving his darting dream.
“I don’t call myself a World Champion,” revealed Durrant.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’m a proud three-time Lakeside Champion but my dream is now to be the PDC World Champion. That would mean everything to me and would be the conclusion of a fantastic darts career.”
Global coverage of the tournament is headlined on the dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel, while the PDC's international broadcast partners will include RTL7 in the Netherlands, DAZN in various territories, Fox Sports in Australia, Sky Sport in New Zealand, PDCTV for Rest of the World Subscribers and at matchroom.live.
2020/21 William Hill World Darts Championship
Schedule of Play
Wednesday December 16
Evening Session (1800 GMT)
3x First Round, 1x Second Round
Max Hopp v Gordon Mathers (R1)
Callan Rydz v James Bailey (R1)
Adam Hunt v Lisa Ashton (R1)
Glen Durrant v Diogo Portela (R2)
Best of five sets (no tie-breaks in deciding sets)