Price 'in a good place' ahead of Winter Gardens title tilt

Gerwyn Price (PDC)

Gerwyn Price insists he has unfinished business at the Betfred World Matchplay, as the in-form Welshman targets a maiden Winter Gardens title in this year’s summer showpiece.

Price was beaten by an inspired Michael van Gerwen in a thrilling finale 12 months ago, having hit only the eighth nine-dart finish in World Matchplay history in his semi-final win over Danny Noppert.

The Markham thrower will once again be among the leading contenders to lift the coveted Phil Taylor Trophy in the 30th staging of the historic event, having enjoyed a terrific start to 2023.

Price began the year by making back-to-back World Series of Darts finals in Bahrain and Copenhagen, before celebrating successive European Tour titles in Leverkusen and Riesa.

He also became only the fifth player in Premier League history to finish top of the regular league phase, losing out to Van Gerwen in May’s decider at London’s O2.

However, the 38-year-old bounced back by steering Wales to a second World Cup of Darts title alongside Jonny Clayton in Frankfurt last month, and he arrives in the North-West in bullish mood.

“Mentally I’m in a good place,” revealed Price, who will play 2021 World Championship semi-finalist Stephen Bunting in a star-studded opening session on Saturday evening.

“I played really well throughout the World Matchplay last year. I just came up short against Michael in the final. I think I was trying too hard.

“Michael had won the World Matchplay before on numerous occasions, and I was chasing my first win in the event so it was a little tougher for me.

“I haven’t played many ranking events over the last two or three weeks, so I need to sharpen up, and hopefully I will go one step further this year and pick that trophy up.”

Statistically, Price has been arguably the stand-out performer in 2023, producing some astronomical averages on the European Tour, ProTour and during the recent Premier League.

The 2021 World Champion is priced as the 9/2 second favourite to lift the coveted Phil Taylor Trophy this year, but he believes his best is yet to come.

“I still think there is a lot more to come from my game,” declared Price, who has been competing on the professional circuit since winning his Tour Card at Qualifying School in January 2014.

“At the top level it’s about fine margins. Over the next two to three years I think I will improve a lot, I will be more consistent and I will be winning those finals.

“I want to win every TV tournament before I retire, and there are a few I’ve still got to pick up; The World Matchplay, Players Championship Finals, UK Open and the Premier League.

“It would be nice to finish my career – whenever I do – with a win in every single tournament, and my next target is the World Matchplay.”

Price made his big stage breakthrough at this event in 2015, defeating Michael Smith and Adrian Lewis to advance to the last eight on his Blackpool bow - his first appearance in a televised quarter-final.

The world number four then suffered a string of early exits prior to his run to the quarter-finals in 2021, and his exploits last year saw him scoop the £100,000 runner-up prize.

“In the early stages of my career I didn’t do very well at the World Matchplay," conceded Price, who is eyeing his first individual TV title since his World Series Finals success last September.

“The Winter Gardens is one of my favourite venues. The atmosphere is really special, and my wife and kids come to Blackpool for the week, which is great.

“I always say it, but it’s about how well I play and how I perform on the day. I am not afraid of any player any more, whereas I probably was four or five years ago. 

“I know that if I play my A-game and I bring that game to the table, there is only one person who can win and that's me."

The Betfred World Matchplay 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).

2023 Betfred World Matchplay
Schedule of Play
Saturday July 15 (1900 BST)
4x First Round

Joe Cullen v Mike De Decker
Rob Cross v Daryl Gurney
Gerwyn Price v Stephen Bunting
Dave Chisnall v Gary Anderson