Humphries to renew rivalry against 'one of the greatest' Anderson

Luke Humphries (Kieran Cleeves/PDC)

Luke Humphries has hailed Gary Anderson as ‘one of the greatest players there’s ever been’ ahead of their quarter-final clash at the Mr Vegas Grand Slam of Darts tonight.

World Grand Prix champion Humphries has been the stand-out performer in Wolverhampton this week, posting four consecutive ton-plus averages to maintain his bid for Grand Slam glory.

The 28-year-old dispatched Anderson 5-1 in the tournament’s round-robin phase last weekend, and he’s relishing the prospect of renewing his rivalry with the Scottish icon at WV Active Aldersley.

Anderson produced a vintage display to dump out three-time Grand Slam winner Gerwyn Price in Wednesday’s last 16, defying a 103 average and eight maximums from the Welshman to triumph with a 104.96 average.

Humphries, meanwhile, averaged 105.42 and crashed in nine 180s to seal a superb 10-7 success against Ryan Searle at the same stage, to continue his blistering run of form in the West Midlands.

“These are the games I get excited for,” insisted Humphries, the new tournament favourite following Michael van Gerwen's exit on Thursday.

“It’s all about being in the latter stages of major tournaments and playing against the best players in the world, and I rate Gary as one of the greatest players there’s ever been.

“Gary is probably going to have to play like he did against Gerwyn Price against me, and I’m going to have to play like I did against Ryan to beat him.

“We’re both going to be up for it, we both want to win. Everyone knows I want to pick up another major [title] before the year is out, but I’ve got a very tough game to worry about on Friday first.”

Humphries has made sustained progress over the last 18 months, winning five European Tour titles and celebrating his first premier televised title with victory in last month’s World Grand Prix.

The Newbury-born star – also a UK Open runner-up in 2021 - has now elevated himself to a career-high of world number four, and he believes experience has been the catalyst for his recent success.

“I feel comfortable. I feel like I’m playing well within myself,” added Humphries, a World Youth Champion back in 2019.

“It’s important for me to stay focused and keep pushing, because if I can play better than I have in this tournament, I could be impossible to stop.

“It’s hard to come into this sport and just dominate. I made the quarter-finals at the World Championship quite early in my career and then suddenly everyone expects you to win a major soon afterwards.

“It took me five years after that [run to the quarter-finals] to do it, but I think my game has matured. You need a lot of stage experience to get through these tough games, and I believe I have that now.”

However, Humphries faces a tough test against a resurgent Anderson, who is aiming to lift the coveted Eric Bristow Trophy for the first time in his career.

The two-time World Champion has scooped a hat-trick of Players Championship titles in 2023 to kickstart his revival, and now he’s setting his sights on big stage silverware.

“There’s life in the old dog yet,” joked Anderson, who is set to feature in his ninth Grand Slam quarter-final – a tally bettered only by Phil Taylor and Van Gerwen.

“I’m playing well on the practice board, I’m playing well on the floor, and the game against Gerwyn was the most comfortable I’ve felt on the stage for a while, so we’re getting there.”

In the evening’s opening quarter-final, 2022 World Youth Champion Josh Rock takes on three-time Grand Slam runner-up James Wade for a place in the last four.

After completing a clean sweep in Group B, Northern Irish star Rock swept aside Krzysztof Ratajski in the last 16 to progress to a maiden televised ranking quarter-final.

Meanwhile, Wade – who dumped out defending champion Michael Smith in the group stage – defied a late fightback from Masters champion Chris Dobey to prevail in a dramatic second round clash on Wednesday.

2023 Mr Vegas Grand Slam of Darts
Friday November 17 (1900-2300 GMT)
Quarter-Finals x2

James Wade v Josh Rock
Luke Humphries v Gary Anderson
Best of 31 Legs