Clayton hoping to rediscover winning formula at World Matchplay

Jonny Clayton in action at the Betfred World Matchplay

Jonny Clayton is hoping to rediscover the winning formula as he targets a first title of 2022 at the Betfred World Matchplay in Blackpool.

The Welshman lifted four televised titles during a stunning 2021 campaign, including a debut Premier League triumph and his maiden TV ranking victory at the BoyleSports World Grand Prix in October.

The world number eight is yet to add to his tally this year, although he’s still produced some eye-catching performances, becoming only the fourth player to finish top of the Premier League table since the tournament’s inception in 2005.

Clayton also enjoyed a welcome return to form on the ProTour last week, reaching Monday’s Players Championship 21 final, only to be denied by Northern Irish veteran Brendan Dolan.

“My form is still there. It’s just putting it on the stage,” said Clayton, an 8/1 shot to prevail at the Winter Gardens from July 16-24.

“I did my job topping the Premier League table, but I couldn’t carry it through by defending my title.

“I was always the underdog, and it feels so much better being the underdog, as opposed to having a target on your back.

“I don’t see that much has changed though. My confidence is still great, I’m looking forward to playing.”

Clayton has been a consistent presence in the latter stages of televised events over recent years, although he’s yet to make his mark in the sport’s summer showpiece.

The 47-year-old has only claimed a solitary win in his four previous World Matchplay appearances, but he’s vowed to make amends over the coming days.

“I am determined. The World Matchplay is my favourite tournament. I love the venue, and the crowd are hardened darts fans,” Clayton added.

“Winning the World Matchplay would be right up there with my best achievements, because you have to play your socks off to beat the world’s best dart players.

“If you lift the trophy at the end, you have done a lot right. It’s a massive achievement, so hopefully it’s the tournament of the Ferret!”

However, Clayton has been handed an extremely tough route if he’s to claim the new £200,000 top prize and the coveted Phil Taylor Trophy.

The five-time televised title winner opens his campaign against Austrian debutant Rowby-John Rodriguez, who came out on top in the pair’s previous meeting at last month’s World Cup of Darts.

Clayton could take on 2020 champion Dimitri Van den Bergh if both come through their opening ties, with world number one and defending champion Peter Wright a potential quarter-final opponent.

“It doesn’t get much tougher, but we play against each other in floor tournaments, we know what we’re all about,” said Clayton, who is preparing to give up his job as a plasterer in December.

“It’s about the guy who gets it right on the night. You’re not going to have an easy draw, whether you play Peter Wright or Jonny Clayton in the final!

“I’m going to take every game as it comes, and I’ve got a massive job to do on Saturday night.

“Rowby is playing really well. He is a brilliant player and he’s dedicated to darts. It’s going to be a difficult game.”

Click here for Betfred World Matchplay ticket information.

The tournament will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK, through the PDC's worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and Viaplay, and on PDCTV (excluding UK, Germany, Austria & Switzerland based subscribers).

2022 Betfred World Matchplay
Schedule of Play
Saturday July 16 (1900 BST)
4x First Round

Krzysztof Ratajski v Stephen Bunting
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Callan Rydz
Peter Wright v Madars Razma
Jonny Clayton v Rowby-John Rodriguez

Sunday July 17
Afternoon Session (1300 BST)
4x First Round

Dirk van Duijvenbode v Ryan Searle
Danny Noppert v Brendan Dolan
Gary Anderson v Daryl Gurney
Michael Smith v Andrew Gilding

Evening Session (1930 BST)
4x First Round

Joe Cullen v Damon Heta
James Wade v Martin Lukeman
Michael van Gerwen v Adrian Lewis
Luke Humphries v Nathan Aspinall

Monday July 18 (1900 BST)
4x First Round

Rob Cross v Chris Dobey
Jose de Sousa v Gabriel Clemens
Gerwyn Price v Martin Schindler
Dave Chisnall v Kim Huybrechts