Comeback king Cross aiming to repeat 2019 heroics in Blackpool

Cross is eyeing a second World Matchplay crown this weekend

Rob Cross is desperate to capitalise on his Betfred World Matchplay lifeline when he takes on former Grand Slam champion Jose De Sousa for a place in the quarter-finals at the Winter Gardens on Wednesday night.

Cross fought back from 8-2 down to complete an incredible comeback win over Chris Dobey in his first round tie, winning nine of the last ten legs to prevail in a thrilling tie-break.

The 31-year-old produced similar heroics en route to World Matchplay glory in 2019, rallying from 14-7 down to seal a famous 17-15 victory over Daryl Gurney in the semi-finals, in one of the greatest comebacks ever seen at the Empress Ballroom.

Cross will be hoping lightning does strike twice as he bids to join Phil Taylor, Michael van Gerwen and Rod Harrington in claiming multiple titles at the Winter Gardens.

“It felt amazing. It was like three years ago all over again,” joked the world number ten. 

“I knew I could win. I’ve done it before and I will do it again. I never believe I’m beaten.

“I had a little bit of luck when I won it a few years ago, so why not again?”

It has been a case of feast or famine for Cross in the sport’s summer showpiece, with his 2019 success sandwiched in between a series of early exits.

The 2018 World Champion has failed to progress beyond the second round in four of his five World Matchplay appearances, a record he’s determined to rectify.

“Blackpool for me is up there with the World Championship,” claimed Cross, one of just five players to have won the sport’s two biggest ranking titles.

“I think you have the best crowd you can ask for, everyone is brilliant.

“That arena is totally different to most other places, so I’m grateful to still be in, and I get the chance to correct my game and get myself right into the tournament.”

Cross takes on seventh seed De Sousa in an intriguing last 16 tie on Wednesday, after the Portuguese star returned to form with an impressive 10-6 win over Gabriel Clemens in his opener.

De Sousa, a Premier League runner-up in 2021, won the pair’s last televised meeting at the season-opening Masters, but the enigmatic Special One has struggled to produce his blistering best over recent months.

Cross is also without a ranking title since October 2021, although he’s been a regular feature in the latter stages of events, appearing in three European Tour finals since March.

“My head is in a really good place at the minute, and that win against Chris [Dobey] will give me everything for the second round,” added Cross, who is 12/1 with title sponsor Betfred to triumph this weekend.

“I need to settle early, I need to stop the darts slipping and if I can do that, I fancy my chances this year.

“I think I can do damage in this tournament. I’m looking forward to it.”

Click here for all the ways to watch the 2022 Betfred World Matchplay around the world.

Betfred World Matchplay
Schedule of Play
Wednesday July 20 (1900 BST)

4x Second Round
Daryl Gurney v Danny Noppert 
Jose de Sousa v Rob Cross
Gerwyn Price v Dave Chisnall
Michael Smith v Dirk van Duijvenbode

All matches the best of 21 legs