Wright taking emotion out of clash with lockdown lodger Van den Bergh

Peter Wright

Peter Wright says he will not get caught up in the emotional side of his meeting with Dimitri Van den Bergh in Sunday's Betfred World Matchplay final.

Van den Bergh spent almost three months in the Wright household last Spring following the onset of travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, Wright insists the Winter Gardens showpiece will be strictly business as he aims to lift the Phil Taylor Trophy for the first time.

"In the 2017 final I got too emotional about it being Phil Taylor's last match in Blackpool," Wright admitted. "I won't make the same mistake again.

"I’ve got respect for Dimi and how hard he works, but when we get up on stage that goes out of the window.

"A lot of people said that he wouldn't be able to handle Blackpool - including me - and he has, so hats off to him.

"I'm happy to see him playing like he can and it should be a cracking final. He's changed into a man now and learned a lot, not just from staying at mine - he already had the talent.

"He's got an awesome record in this event, but he's got to play against the master now!"

The UK's first lockdown saw Wright and Van den Bergh form a close friendship at the former World Champion's house in Mendham, Norfolk.

On how the unique arrangement came about, Wright explained: "We'd been playing the events in Barnsley just as lockdown began and Dimitri couldn't travel back home.

He's a nice guy so we invited him home with us until he could get home - and it ended up being nearly three months!

We did a lot of jobs together; he helped me put up LED lights in our sitting room and cinema room, we built a polytunnel up - and we practised together."

The world number two was left in tears of joy after defeating old rival Michael van Gerwen 17-10 on Saturday.

An outstanding display from Wright saw him average 110.37, the highest ever recorded in a World Matchplay semi-final, to reach his second Blackpool final.

"It was tears of joy at the end because Jo will be here tomorrow," Wright explained. "She's done an amazing job - she had her operation last Thursday and came straight to Blackpool so that she could do my hair.

"I told her that she had to stay and rest but she's wanted to come. I'd promised her that she could come to the final if I got there.

"I thought he played really well there and it felt like an amazing game. Michael's the best player in the world and we all know it.

"For me to be favourite against him shows how well I've been playing and my darts have backed that up. It's probably one of my best performances.

"I've dreamed about winning this and picking up that trophy and now I want to make it a reality."

Dimitri Van den Bergh
Van den Bergh was relieved after overcoming Krzysztof Ratajski

Van den Bergh too was left emotional on Saturday night after coming from behind to defeat Krzysztof Ratajski 17-9.

The Belgian crowd favourite recovered from a slow start to defeat the Pole, and is now just one win away from becoming just the third player in history to retain the title.

"The crowd knocked me off my feet tonight - it was such an amazing feeling and I can only thank them," said Van den Bergh.

"I'm ecstatic. With the way the game started, I needed the crowd. Krzysztof missed some doubles and I battled back and took my chances, but even when I got in front I didn't feel in control - but I'm in the final now.
"I'm surprised and I've got one more big game. This tournament is a marathon, not a sprint, and today I showed why.

"I never gave up or backed down and I kept trying and fought back. It's incredible."
It would be a dream come true to be the back-to-back World Matchplay champion. I've done it before with the World Youth Championship and to have the chance to win this in front of a crowd is a dream. I want to give the crowd a fantastic game, and I would love to lift the trophy again.

The final 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 Final
Sunday July 25 (2030 BST)
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Peter Wright

Best of 35 legs.
The 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 First Round game (best of 19 legs) reach 12-12, then the 25th leg would be the final and deciding leg.