Reigning champ Van den Bergh handed Petersen opener
Dimitri van den Bergh will begin his defence of the Betfred World Matchplay with a tricky-looking tie against South African Devon Petersen (Match betting – Van den Bergh 4/9, Petersen 7/4).
The Belgian sealed his maiden major title last year after beating Gary Anderson 18-10 and will aim to double his tally and climb further up the world rankings with success in Blackpool.
Petersen will try and stop him, however, as he makes his debut in the Matchplay after a sparkling period of form since last autumn when he won a first PDC title on the European Tour.
The tournament returns to the historic Winter Gardens venue in Blackpool after being staged behind closed doors in Milton Keynes in 2020.
World number one Gerwyn Price is hoping to kick start his 2021 as he prepares to face Mensur Suljovic in round one (Price 1/4, Suljovic 3/1).
The defending world champion has endured a frustrating year after being forced to sit out the Premier League after contracting Covid-19 on the eve of the tournament, and the bullish ‘Iceman’ will fancy his chances.
Michael van Gerwen, a two-time winner of the Betfred Matchplay, is aiming to end his 2021 drought and will begin his campaign against Australian Damon Heta (Van Gerwen 1/4, Heta 3/1).
The Dutchman, who has been darts’ dominant force for nearly a decade, has not won a single ranking title this year and is badly in need of one as he attempts to get back to the summit of the game.
Peter Wright, who sits between Price and Van Gerwen in the PDC Order of Merit, begins his quest for a first Matchplay title against the in-form Dutchman Danny Noppert (Wright 4/11, Noppert 11/5).
Anderson and James Wade, both former winners of the tournament have been handed tough openers in what looks to be the most open Matchplay in years.
The ‘Flying Scotsman’ will face World Championship semi-finalist Stephen Bunting, who ended his five-year wait for a title when winning in the Pro Tour on Monday (Anderson 8/15, Bunting 6/4).
Wade faces young star Luke Humphries in a repeat of the UK Open final from March, in which ‘The Machine’ triumphed (Wade 8/13, Humphries 13/10).
Newly-crowned Premier League champion Jonny Clayton is in fine fettle as he seeks to win a first ranking major, though eccentric Dutchman Dirk van Duijvenbode stands in his way in round one (Clayton 1/2, Van Duijvenbode 13/8).
Jose De Sousa, who has become a fan’s favourite due to his unorthodox style, will aim to build on his Grand Slam success last year when he takes on the dangerous German Gabriel Clemens (De Sousa 2/7, Clemens 11/4).
Finally, Rob Cross – the 2019 Matchplay winner – will be desperate to have a good tournament as he defends £150,000 worth of ranking prize money.
He faces Ross Smith, who arrives in Blackpool on the back of a first PDC ranking win the Pro Tour this week (Cross 4/9, Smith 7/4).
The Betfred World Matchplay starts on Saturday July 17 with the final taking place on Sunday July 25.
The post Reigning champ Van den Bergh handed Petersen opener appeared first on Betfred Blog .
Source: Darts – Betfred