Reigning champ Sherrock relishing her Blackpool return

Fallon Sherrock (Taylor Lanning/PDC)

Fallon Sherrock is relishing her return to big stage action in Blackpool, as she bids to retain her title at the Betfred Women’s World Matchplay on Sunday.

Sherrock defeated Aileen de Graaf to triumph in last year’s inaugural event, and she will be among the headline acts in this year’s Winter Gardens showpiece, which will be held on the afternoon of Sunday July 23.

The second staging of the £25,000 event – televised live on Sky Sports and through the PDC's global broadcast partners - will see eight of the game’s leading stars vying for glory at the Empress Ballroom.

Teenage sensation Beau Greaves has dominated the pre-tournament headlines following her exploits on the PDC Women’s Series circuit, winning 15 of the 20 events held during the last year.

However, Sherrock heads to Blackpool in confident mood, after ending her 12-month wait for a Women’s Series title in Hildesheim last month.

“I’m so excited to be going back to Blackpool,” revealed Sherrock, priced as the 5/1 second favourite with title sponsor Betfred.

“I feel like my game is slowly getting back to the level I want, and I’m just eager to get up there and show everyone how well I’m playing again.”

“I didn’t feel my game was good enough [late last year], but I’ve been putting in the hours and the effort again.

“Obviously I had the nine-darter [on the Challenge Tour] and I felt that my game was improving around Q School, it just needed a few tweaks.

“I’ve been playing more competitive darts and trying to get more practice in before this tournament, so hopefully it pays off!

Sherrock will kick off her title defence with a blockbuster showdown against four-time Women’s World Champion Lisa Ashton – the sixth seed in this year’s tournament.

Japanese trailblazer Mikuru Suzuki or last year’s runner-up De Graaf await Sherrock if she progresses to the semi-finals, before a potential date against top seed Greaves for the £10,000 top prize.

“Talk about throwing me in at the deep end!” joked Sherrock, who insists that pressure is a privilege, rather than a burden.

“I’m going into Blackpool and I’m thinking that nobody is expecting me to win, because they’ve got their eyes on Beau.

“I will try and go under the radar again and I think there’s much less expectation this time.

“I do prefer having the tougher games though, because it makes you play and it brings out your best game, because you want to showcase what you can do.

“It also shows you how much you’re able to deal with the pressure, and I think that’s what I strive to do. I want to play the best players because I want to be put under pressure.”

Sunday will mark Sherrock’s first big stage appearance since she was awarded an MBE in the 2023 King's Birthday Honours list, recognising her enormous contribution to the sport.

The 29-year-old has made a huge global impact in recent years, starting with her famous wins over Ted Evetts and Mensur Suljovic at the 2019/2020 World Darts Championship.

Sherrock continued her meteoric rise by reaching the Nordic Darts Masters final and Grand Slam of Darts quarter-finals in 2021, before celebrating Women’s World Matchplay success a year ago.

The Milton Keynes ace – who has also won 11 Women’s Series title since the tour’s inception in 2020, also became the first woman to hit a nine-darter in a PDC event on the Winmau Challenge Tour earlier this year.

However, Sherrock – who is set to receive her MBE in January – admits the magnitude of the accolade is yet to sink in.

“I’m so proud, because I know just how big it actually is,” added Sherrock, who will seal her Alexandra Palace return if she lifts the title on Sunday.

“Not many people get given MBEs. I realised how much I actually achieved, but I don’t think I realised how much I actually helped the game until that came out.

“I think it will take me a couple of years once I’ve settled down to realise how big this is, but I’m so proud of myself. It’s a huge honour for me.

“Hopefully I will get announced as Fallon Sherrock MBE on the walk-on, that would be nice! Especially with the Queen of the Palace, I think that would suit really nicely!”

2023 Betfred Women's World Matchplay
Sunday July 23 (1300 BST)

Beau Greaves v Noa-Lynn van Leuven
Robyn Byrne v Rhian O'Sullivan
Mikuru Suzuki v Aileen de Graaf
Fallon Sherrock v Lisa Ashton
Best of 7 legs

Greaves/Van Leuven v Byrne/O'Sullivan
Suzuki/De Graaf v Sherrock/Ashton
Best of 9 legs

Best of 11 legs

Prize Money
Winner: £10,000
Runner-Up: £5,000
Semi-Finalists: £2,500
Quarter-Finalists: £1,250
Total: £25,000