Gerwyn Price believes he’s getting back to his best as he continues his Betfred World Matchplay title tilt against Jose De Sousa on Friday night.
Price is aiming to reach his first semi-final at the Winter Gardens, and he takes on former Grand Slam champion De Sousa in the evening's second quarter-final.
The Welshman came through an exhilarating opening round tie against Martin Schindler on Monday, before recovering from 6-4 down to deny Dave Chisnall in a dramatic last 16 tussle.
The 37-year-old is now bidding to break new ground in Blackpool, and victory over the Portuguese star will see him reclaim the world number one spot following Peter Wright’s exit on Thursday.
“I’m really confident in my game. I’m getting back to where I should be,” said Price, who is aiming to lift his eighth PDC televised title this weekend.
“Winning helps your confidence enormously, especially when I’m coming through tough games against Martin [Schindler] and Dave [Chisnall].
“I’m happy to come through games when my back is against the wall. I’m not playing fantastic darts, but I can still get over the winning line with my B-game.
“It doesn’t matter who I play, I always fancy myself to beat anybody.
“Jose is a fantastic player. I’ve played him a couple of times and he’s beaten me a few times, so I think I owe him one!”
De Sousa has enjoyed a remarkable resurgence in Blackpool, averaging 103.26 and firing in nine 180s to defeat 2019 champion Rob Cross 11-8 in a World Matchplay classic on Wednesday.
The 48-year-old has endured a torrid spell since featuring in last year’s Premier League final, but he insists he’s over his injury problems and ready to return to his blistering best.
“My game has just come back at the right moment. This could be a big turning point,” said De Sousa, who has won three of his five meetings against Price.
“I am only thinking game by game. If I feel confident then I have a great chance to win.
“This is the second biggest tournament behind the World Championship, so this means the world to me.
“I cannot explain how I would feel if I won this title. My emotions would be in the sky!”
Friday’s action gets underway with an intriguing all-Dutch showdown, as World Cup partners Danny Noppert and Dirk van Duijvenbode lock horns for a place in Saturday’s semi-finals.
UK Open champion Noppert has been in imperious form at the Empress Ballroom, posting ton-plus averages to dispatch Northern Irish duo Brendan Dolan and Daryl Gurney.
The 31-year-old has produced five ton-plus checkouts at this year’s event, and coupled with his impressive tally of 12 maximums, he’s among the leading contenders to scoop the £200,000 top prize.
“I’m a happy man at the moment. I’m living my dream,” said Noppert, who is eyeing his second televised title of 2022.
“I’m feeling confident on this stage. I am always fighting, but Dirk is doing really well at the moment.
“I believe in myself, and that is the most important thing. Let the best man win!”
Van Duijvenbode produced the performance of the first round in his opener against Ryan Searle, averaging 103.61 to register his maiden victory on the iconic Winter Gardens stage.
However, the former World Grand Prix runner-up offered a scathing assessment of his last 16 display against third seed Michael Smith, despite averaging 98 en route to an 11-7 success.
“I was so nervous. I was prepared for a Michael Smith who hit a 105 or 110 average, and I didn't play well. I am just lucky that I won in the end,” Van Duijvenbode claimed.
“Danny is playing very well. I played well in my first game, but the way he’s performing, I need to improve or I will be going home.
"I’m going to have to bring my best, but so will Danny. I am defending a lot of ranking money this year, so the quarter-finals is not enough for me."
Price, De Sousa, Noppert and Van Duijvenbode are looking to join former champions Michael van Gerwen and Dimitri Van den Bergh in Saturday's semi-finals, after the pair came through thrilling tussles to set up a mouth-watering last four showdown.
Van den Bergh, who lifted the title in 2020, edged out reigning champion Wright 16-14 in an epic, before two-time winner Van Gerwen defied a spirited comeback from Nathan Aspinall to prevail by the same scoreline in the evening's finale.
The action 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
Friday July 22 (2000 BST)
Dirk van Duijvenbode v Danny Noppert
Gerwyn Price v Jose de Sousa