Van Gerwen fighting fit as he eyes World Matchplay hat-trick

Michael van Gerwen is eyeing a third World Matchplay crown in 2022

Michael van Gerwen insists he’s fighting fit as he prepares to begin his Betfred World Matchplay campaign against 2013 runner-up Adrian Lewis in a blockbuster first round clash on Sunday night.

Van Gerwen has only made one appearance since claiming Cazoo Premier League glory last month, after undergoing surgery to resolve the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in his throwing arm.

The 33-year-old was beaten by Danny Noppert in his first outing since his operation at the Dutch Darts Masters on June 24, but following a few weeks out of the spotlight, Van Gerwen is refreshed and raring to go at the Winter Gardens.

“Throwing wise I’m 100% fine,” confirmed Van Gerwen, a two-time World Matchplay winner.

“I had a nice few days in Vegas with some friends, and then a few days in Ibiza with my wife, so I can’t complain!

“I have been practising really well over the last week, and I’m going to need to perform, because we all know what Adrian Lewis is capable of.

“The World Matchplay is a big test for me on where I stand, and from then on I want to see progression, and that’s really important for me.”

Van Gerwen comes into this summer’s event fresh from a record-equalling sixth Premier League triumph in Berlin, his first victory in a PDC Premier event for over 18 months.

The three-time World Champion, who edged out Joe Cullen 11-10 in an epic final, was visibly emotional post-match, and admits it was a potential turning point as he bids to return to the sport’s summit.

“It was really, really important,” said the current world number four.

“You need that winning feeling, that feeling of: 'I’m the best again.’

“It makes you really hungry for the next tournaments, and it’s a great reward to win the second biggest tournament of the year. It has given me a lot of confidence, and I can build from here.”

Van Gerwen secured back-to-back World Matchplay titles in 2015 and 2016, only the third player to achieve the feat along with Rod Harrington and 16-time winner Phil Taylor.

However, the Boxtel ace has failed to go beyond the semi-finals in his last five visits to Blackpool, a record he’s determined to rectify over the coming week.

“It’s been too long since I won this title. I need to do the same as I did in the Premier League, do the right thing at the right moments,” added Van Gerwen.

“I just want to perform. That’s the only thing that counts for me.

“I always have pressure on my shoulders. Nobody can always perform at their best year after year. That’s impossible, but now I’m starting to get somewhere.

“I’m winning tournaments again and I know there is more to come.”

The Dutch legend has already surpassed his 2021 title tally, claiming three European Tour crowns and a Players Championship double on top of his Premier League success.

He is now eyeing a first PDC televised ranking title since his Players Championship Finals win in November 2020, but he faces a tough test against a resurgent Lewis.

The two-time World Champion clinched his first PDC ranking title for three years in Barnsley last week, and Van Gerwen is relishing the chance to renew his rivalry against the Stoke-on-Trent star.

“Adrian Lewis is a phenomenal player and I will always keep saying that,” said Van Gerwen, the 6/1 second favourite with title sponsor Betfred.

“Has he done enough with his talent? I would say no, but the field is so strong, the schedule is busy, and Adrian has also had a bit of bad luck in recent years.

“He is working hard to find his way back to the top. I’m here now and I have to stop him, and that’s my only focus right now.”

The tournament is being 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
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