Chris Dobey is bidding to break his duck against Michael van Gerwen in Leicester on Friday night, as the pair prepare to lock horns for a place in the BoyleSports World Grand Prix semi-finals.
Dobey has lost all nine of his previous meetings against the Dutchman, but he’s confident of claiming a landmark win at the Morningside Arena, as he eyes a place in his third televised semi-final.
The Bedlington star denied two-time World Champion Adrian Lewis in a sudden-death leg to book his place in the last eight on Wednesday, and his reward is a showdown against Van Gerwen, who is chasing a sixth double-start title this weekend.
“I’ve played Michael nine times and I’m still yet to beat him, but why can’t this be the time?” said Dobey, who survived a match dart in his victory over 2010 runner-up Lewis.
“I think Michael is coming back for sure. He’s not as consistent as he once was, but I still put him as the best player in the world.
“His A-game is another level to the rest and you’ve seen it in the past, but I feel confident of beating him if I can bring my A-game, so let the best man win.”
Dobey made his mark on his World Grand Prix debut in 2019, defeating Ricky Evans, Gary Anderson and Ian White before succumbing to Van Gerwen in the semi-finals.
The 32-year-old continued his rise by reaching the last four at the Players Championship Finals just over a month later, but he’s failed to hit those heights over the last 18 months.
“I know my game is nowhere near where it was 12 months ago,” conceded Dobey, who has provisionally moved up to 26th on the Order of Merit.
“You saw the averages I was producing on the floor and on the stage last year – I was probably in the top five of the averages, and it has been nowhere near that this year.
“I need to start dedicating myself a little bit more like I did a few years back when I was getting to the latter stages of competitions.
“I am going to put that right. I know I can get there. I just need to put the extra hours in at home, and I will definitely do that.”
However, Dobey faces an ominous task against third seed Van Gerwen, who is aiming to add yet another World Grand Prix triumph to his Premier League and World Matchplay double in 2022.
Van Gerwen opened his campaign against Gary Anderson in a repeat of the 2016 final, recovering from a sluggish start to dispatch the Scot in straight sets.
The three-time World Champion then defied a spirited fightback from Stephen Bunting to claim a tenth consecutive win over the St Helens star, and he is aiming to repeat the feat against Dobey.
“I feel good, I feel confident. I know there is more in the tank, but you still have to produce it game by game,” reflected Van Gerwen, who impressed in his 3-2 victory over Bunting.
"In my last match I had to battle hard to get the win and I'm glad I did.
"You have to believe in your own abilities in difficult situations like this; I'm still going and that's the most important thing.
"Chris and I know each other well, we get on well and have a laugh in the practice room sometimes. I'm looking forward to playing him."
Despite Van Gerwen's pedigree in the double-start format, much of the headlines in Leicester have been dominated by Gerwyn Price and Peter Wright’s ongoing battle for the world number one spot.
Wright will return to the summit at Price’s expense if he reaches Sunday’s final, but Van Gerwen has fired a warning to the duo ahead of a blockbuster night of quarter-final action.
"In their mind they [Peter Wright and Gerwyn Price] know who number one is going to be, I won't stop hunting them and they know that."
Friday’s last eight line-up will also see top seed Price taking on Latvia’s Madars Razma, as the Welshman aims to repeat his 2020 heroics.
Elsewhere, 2018 runner-up Wright plays Dimitri Van den Bergh in a repeat of their quarter-final clash at July’s World Matchplay, while former UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall kicks off proceedings against debutant Martin Lukeman.
Friday October 7 (1900 BST)
Quarter-Finals Nathan Aspinall v Martin Lukeman
Gerwyn Price v Madars Razma
Peter Wright v Dimitri Van den Bergh
Michael van Gerwen v Chris Dobey
2/1 - Gerwyn Price
3/1 - Michael van Gerwen
4/1 - Peter Wright
11/2 - Dimitri Van den Bergh
7/1 - Nathan Aspinall
20/1 - Chris Dobey
33/1 - Madars Razma
33/1 - Martin Lukeman