Michael van Gerwen says returning home to the Netherlands in the New Year with the Sid Waddell Trophy will make sacrificing a family Christmas worthwhile. 

The world number one, who may need to win the William Hill World Darts Championship to extend his seven-year stay at the top of the PDC Order of Merit, spent Christmas in a London hotel due to coronavirus restrictions. 

Van Gerwen took a brief trip home to Vlijmen after his opening victory over Ryan Murray, which saw him post the £2.5 million tournament’s highest average so far of 108.98, but returned to the UK quickly as news of impending border closures began to circulate. 

“I went home after my first match to see my wife and children, but we decided I should go straight back to London,” said Van Gerwen, who takes on Ricky Evans in round three on Sunday evening. 

“I was in my house for around three hours before driving back. With everything that was going on it was the right thing to do. Darts has to be my priority at this time of year. If you choose to be a professional, you have to act like a professional and for us Christmas and New Year is all about darts. 

“It’s not the first time I’ve spent Christmas in the UK. The World Championship is the most important tournament of the year and everybody around me understands that. My wife (Daphne) encouraged me to go back to London. She always supports and encourages me. I’m here to do a job and that job is to win the World Championship. I will have enough days in January to spend with my family.”

Van Gerwen is confident of claiming a fourth World Championship title after missing out on increasing his tally in last year’s final, when he was beaten by Peter Wright.

The Dutchman won last month’s Players Championship Finals after an eight-month TV title drought and believes that he is returning to form at the perfect time.

“It has been a difficult year, but I feel fantastic about my game at the moment,” said Van Gerwen. 

“I always blame myself if I don’t do well and I know what I have been doing wrong but I’ve prepared perfectly for this tournament. I have no excuses if I don’t win it.  I’ve practiced every day and I think I am showing everybody what I can do again. I did well at the Players Championship Finals and in my first match at Ally Pally.

“I’m a positive person and I never doubt my ability. I have my moments here and there, but the glass is always half full.

“This has been the craziest year for everyone. Not just people in darts but everybody all over the world but hopefully, for me, the next year will start with me becoming World Champion again. That will make all the sacrifices worthwhile.” 

Van Gerwen was tested for COVID-19 on his return the PDC bubble environment and again on Boxing Day, when 24 players returned negative results. The remaining eight players in the third round have been tested on Sunday and are awaiting results. 

Sunday December 27
Evening Session (1800 GMT) 
3x Third Round

Joe Cullen v Jonny Clayton
Peter Wright v Gabriel Clemens
Michael van Gerwen v Ricky Evans