Van Gerwen aiming to end title drought at Betfred World Matchplay

Michael van Gerwen (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)

Michael van Gerwen believes he can end an eight-month wait for a tournament win in the Betfred World Matchplay, as he prepares to meet Ian White in Blackpool on Wednesday.

The Dutchman had enjoyed a dominant seven-year spell as world number one in the sport before seeing Gerwyn Price take over at the top of the rankings in January.

Van Gerwen has also yet to win a tournament so far in 2021, with November's Players Championship success being his last title in an unusually barren spell.

However, Van Gerwen battled past Damon Heta in the first round at the World Matchplay on Monday, and meets Ian White in tonight's second round as he continues his bid for a third Winter Gardens success.

"I've been close to winning events a couple of times this year, I've been unlucky in a few tournaments but things are not like normal," said Van Gerwen.

"Obviously I'm playing a little bit differently than normal too so I need to start changing that really quickly.

"I know that when I play my game that I can still hurt someone from any position. You need to still believe in yourself and I never give up.

"I had to work hard but I got the job done against Damon. There's more in the tank but I got the first round out of the way and overall I'm happy.

"I've got some things I can do better, like my scoring, and I want to show it in the next round.

"I feel it's coming but you need to keep winning games - that's the only medicine to get your confidence and to get everything back on track.

"When I play my A-game, no-one can beat me."

Van Gerwen's first round game coincided with the return of a full crowd at the Winter Gardens, and the Dutchman admitted to feeling nerves as he took to the stage.

"It's not normal for us any more to have big crowds!" Van Gerwen added.

"We're not used to it and it felt weird for me. It was a special moment for darts and for sports globally."

White produced one of his finest big-stage performances when he defeated Van Gerwen 10-4 in the European Championship last autumn.

"Beating Michael last year was a good memory and I'd love to play as well against him again," said White.

"I've played Michael in a final on the European Tour before too and beat him in Holland, and that was hard because I think there were 5,000 fans cheering for him.

"It's going to be a good game and I hope I have a few more people cheering me on tonight!"

The second round concludes with four matches tonight at the Winter Gardens, with 2020 World Champion Peter Wright taking on Joe Cullen.

2018 World Matchplay winner Gary Anderson plays Nathan Aspinall and reigning Grand Slam of Darts champion Jose de Sousa faces Michael Smith.

The action will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK, through the PDC's worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and RTL7, and on PDCTV for Rest of the World Subscribers.

Click here for all the ways to watch the 2021 Betfred World Matchplay around the world.

2021 Betfred World Matchplay
Wednesday July 21 (1900 BST)
4x Second Round

Michael Smith v Jose de Sousa
Gary Anderson v Nathan Aspinall
Michael van Gerwen v Ian White
Peter Wright v Joe Cullen

Second Round: best of 21 legs.
Each game must be won by two clear legs, with up to a maximum of five additional legs being played before the sixth additional leg is sudden-death. For example, should a Second Round game (best of 21 legs) reach 13-13, then the 27th leg would be the final and deciding leg.