Clayton eyeing doubling deja vu at BoyleSports World Grand Prix

Jonny Clayton (PDC)

Jonny Clayton is bidding to join an exclusive club in Leicester next week, as he aims to defend his BoyleSports World Grand Prix title in the unique double-start event.

Clayton performed magnificently to clinch his first televised ranking crown in last year’s showpiece, converting five ton-plus checkouts in dispatching his fellow countryman Gerwyn Price 5-1.

The Welshman also pinned 63% of his darts at a starting double, averaging 94 for both the final and the tournament as he scooped the £110,000 top prize.

The reigning champion will look to repeat those heroics in this year’s 32-player tournament, which takes place at Leicester’s Morningside Arena from October 3-9, with a record-breaking £600,000 prize fund on offer.

Clayton is hoping to follow in the footsteps of 11-time winner Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen – who is chasing a sixth crown this year – by becoming only the third player in World Grand Prix history to retain their title.

“The double-in double-out format is challenging, but it separates the men from the boys,” said Clayton, a 12/1 shot with title sponsor BoyleSports to replicate his 2021 success.

“I’m going to turn up and play to the best level I can. If I play my best game, I’ve got a good chance of defending my title so that’s what I will try and do.

“There are not many people that have defended the World Grand Prix and I’d love to join that list, so fingers crossed it’s going to happen again.”

The 47-year-old capped off a stunning 2021 campaign with victory in Leicester 12 months ago, also defeating Callan Rydz, Jose De Sousa, Krzysztof Ratajski and Danny Noppert en route to glory.

“That week was a Jonny Clayton week. I started brilliantly and I finished brilliantly,” admitted the Pontyberem star.

“Every title you win is a massive achievement, but the World Grand Prix win was class, because it actually went on my ranking.

“I moved from 13 up to number seven in the world, so it was fantastic. It was as if: ‘I’ve landed. I’m here, I’ve made a statement’.”

Clayton will begin his title defence against 2020 runner-up Dirk van Duijvenbode in a mouth-watering tie on Monday – the pair’s third meeting in as many weeks.

Van Duijvenbode defeated Clayton at the World Series of Darts Finals in Amsterdam a fortnight ago, but the world number seven gained revenge with a thrilling 6-4 victory at last weekend’s Belgian Darts Open.

The Welshman has not been able to repeat his trophy-laden 2021 exploits this year, although he did top the revamped Cazoo Premier League table, before returning to the winner’s circle during last month’s World Series of Darts treble-header.

Clayton lifted August’s New South Wales Darts Masters title with victory over James Wade in Wollongong, and after making it back-to-back Oceanic finals at the NZ Darts Masters, he believes he’s adjusting to his new-found ‘favourite’ tag.

“As an underdog it’s a much easier game in any sport, because you can fly under the radar. It’s totally different having a target on your back,” Clayton added.

“I think I put too much pressure on myself [to defend his title] in the Premier League, so I’m trying not to think about it now.

“I’ve had an up and down season, but hopefully things are starting to fall into place.

“I would love to break into the world’s top five by the end of the year, and the only way I can do that is by concentrating hard on the ranking events at the back end of the season.”

Read the full exclusive interview with Jonny in the 2022 BoyleSports World Grand Prix programme. Fans are now able to order their copy online from Curtis Sport via this link.