Van Barneveld in relaxed mood ahead of Grand Slam return

Raymond van Barneveld

Raymond van Barneveld is in relaxed mood ahead of his Cazoo Grand Slam of Darts return on Saturday.

Dutch legend Van Barneveld will make his first appearance in the Wolverhampton event since 2018 after advancing through last Friday's qualifier.

The 54-year-old has fond memories of the event, having claimed the title in 2012 with an epic 16-14 defeat of countryman Michael van Gerwen.

That victory was widely regarded as the return of the five-time World Champion after a barren period, and Van Barneveld will be hoping history repeats itself next week.

Van Barneveld will face world number ten Michael Smith in his opener in Group G, which also includes two-time Grand Slam runner-up Gary Anderson and World Youth Championship runner-up Joe Davis.

"I am really over the moon to be back in the Grand Slam of Darts, I was really happy," Van Barneveld told The Darts Show Podcast.

"I can't wait to play on stage again with this amazing crowd, and I am going to do my very best.

"I am practising hard at the moment. Of course I can beat Gary. I can beat everyone if my head is right and if my darts are okay. If that is not going to happen, don't worry, I'm fine.

"Gary is not in great form, but that says nothing. He is still the runner-up in the World Championship final last year. He can do the business and we all know that.

"Michael [Smith] is a tough cookie of course. He is the only player in the world who has whitewashed me on TV. If he is in his rhythm, he is unstoppable. We don't know much about Joe Davis, but he can be the surprise of the group.

"I feel I have nothing to lose. I'm not going to say I'm going to win this tournament or I'm going to the Worlds or the Players Championship.

"I'm just happy to be back on the biggest stage. This is what it's all about. I missed it. The Grand Slam of Darts is a great opportunity.

"One week later we go to the Players Championship Finals and two weeks later - the World Championship. I cannot wait for the next three tournaments and I'm going to make sure I am ready for it.

Raymond van Barneveld
Van Barneveld has enjoyed a solid return to the PDC in 2021

Having come out of retirement at the start of the year, Van Barneveld regained his Tour Card at Q School, before picking up a Players Championship title in just his third event back on the circuit.

The Dutchman's displays on the ProTour have also seen him qualify for the Players Championship Finals and secure his return to Alexandra Palace at the World Championship.

"It is good to be back and see all the familiar faces, and I must say, the level of this sport is unbelievably good at the moment," he added.

"Normally in the 1980s if you had an 85 average you never could lose, in the 90s if you had a 90 average, you never could lose.

"Now you are losing with 100 averages. I remember against Scott Mitchell [last month] I had a 101 average and I lost 6-5.

"There are people losing with 109 and 111 [averages]. What is this all about? It is hitting your doubles first, but if you don't win the bull, sometimes you could be in trouble.

"The likes of Peter Wright, Gary Anderson last week - all of these players were there. Jonny Clayton who is in massive form, he didn't win a Pro Tour last week.

"I think Peter Wright's best result last week was a second round. Michael [van Gerwen] is not winning them all. That says enough of the quality of the players at the moment."

Grand Slam tickets

Tickets for the Cazoo Grand Slam of Darts can be purchased through Ticketmaster.

The tournament will be broadcast live on Sky Sports, as well as through the PDC's international broadcast partners including DAZN and RTL7, and through PDCTV for Rest of the World Subscribers.

2021 Cazoo Grand Slam of Darts
Schedule of Play
Saturday November 13
Afternoon Session (1300 GMT)

8x Group Matches
Stephen Bunting v Ryan Joyce (D)
Krzysztof Ratajski v Martin Schindler (A)
Mervyn King v Bradley Brooks (B)
James Wade v Jim Williams (C)
Rob Cross v Boris Krcmar (C)
Jonny Clayton v Rusty-Jake Rodriguez (B)
Gerwyn Price v Nathan Rafferty (A)
Chris Dobey v Rowby-John Rodriguez (D)

Evening Session (1900 GMT)
8x Group Matches
Gabriel Clemens v Mike De Decker (E)
Jose de Sousa v Matt Campbell (F)
Luke Humphries v Mensur Suljovic (F)
Gary Anderson v Joe Davis (H)
Michael van Gerwen v Lisa Ashton (G)
Joe Cullen v John Henderson (G)
Peter Wright v Fallon Sherrock (E)
Michael Smith v Raymond van Barneveld (H)

Sunday November 14
Afternoon Session (1300 GMT)

8x Group Matches
Groups A-D Second Matches

Evening Session (1900 GMT)
8x Group Matches
Groups E-H Second Matches

Monday November 15 (1900 GMT)
8x Group Matches
Groups A-D Final Matches

Tuesday November 16 (1900 GMT)
8x Group Matches
Groups E-H Final Matches

Wednesday November 17 (1900 GMT)
4x Second Round

Thursday November 18 (1900 GMT)
4x Second Round

Friday November 19 (1900 GMT)
2x Quarter-Finals

Saturday November 20 (1900 GMT)
2x Quarter-Finals

Sunday November 21
Afternoon Session (1300 GMT)

Evening Session (1900 GMT)