Nathan Aspinall insists he feels ‘rejuvenated’ ahead of his second round clash against Danny Noppert at the BoyleSports World Grand Prix in Leicester on Thursday.
Aspinall defeated fourth seed Michael Smith in a late-night clash on Tuesday night, overcoming a series of missed match darts to register his first victory in the double-start event since 2019.
The 31-year-old will now take on Noppert in a battle of the UK Open champions, as the Dutchman bids to make it back-to-back semi-finals at the Morningside Arena.
However, Aspinall – making his fourth consecutive World Grand Prix appearance – has enjoyed a remarkable revival over recent months, following a torrid 2021 campaign.
Aspinall suffered a serious wrist injury last year, and there were fears it could be career-threatening, with the Stockport star taking some time away from the sport to recover following last year’s World Championship.
The former Premier League runner-up has since returned to form in emphatic style; scooping two ProTour titles to top the Players Championship Order of Merit, and he believes there is more to come.
“Practice wise, I’m playing amazing! I have found that hunger again, because I was so close to losing my career,” Aspinall admitted post-match.
“I am making good money doing something that I love, and obviously with my wrist [injury], I thought my career was over.
“Now I have got this lifeline, I feel rejuvenated. I feel like I felt in 2018 when I had just won my Tour Card.
“I want to prove to everyone that I can be good, and I think the results speak volumes.
“I have won two ProTours, made so many semi-finals on the European Tour, and I’ve got that hunger back.
“My wrist is nearly back to full fitness. I can do three or four hours a day of practice, and I’m not far off being back to my best.”
Aspinall’s victory over Smith provisionally lifts him above Dave Chisnall and Dirk van Duijvenbode into 14th on the Order of Merit, and he’s confident of making further inroads over the coming months.
The winner of his clash against Noppert will play either Ross Smith or Martin Lukeman in Friday’s quarter-finals, and Aspinall believes he’s capable of landing his third televised title in Leicester.
“I want to win one of these majors. 2019 is a long time ago now, but I fancy one at the back end of this year,” added The Asp, a winner at the US Darts Masters three years ago.
“I’m playing well, my practice is good and statistically speaking I’m one of the best finishers in the game, so why can’t this tournament be the one to reboot my career?
“I know I can finish as well as anyone, I can score as well as anyone, so if I put the two together, you’re going to have to play well to beat me.”
2022 BoyleSports World Grand Prix
Thursday October 6 (1900 BST)
4x Second Round
Martin Lukeman v Ross Smith
Daryl Gurney v Madars Razma
Gerwyn Price v Joe Cullen
Nathan Aspinall v Danny Noppert