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World Matchplay - Darts: Steve Davies' Tips

Racing Post darts tipster Steve Davies is armed with a bucket, spade, ice cream and a handful of tips, as the world's top stars head to sunny Blackpool for the World Matchplay from the Winter Gardens.

Two-time champion Michael van Gerwen is 5/1 to lift the Phil Taylor Trophy, which is currently in the hands of world champion Peter Wright, who beat Dimitri van den Bergh 18-9 in last year's final.

Does Steve expect Mighty Mike, off the oche for a month after wrist surgery, to come back as well as before and, if not, who is the value going into one of the highlight weeks of the darting calendar?

What

World Matchplay

Where

Winter Gardens, Blackpool

When

Saturday 16th July - Sunday 24th July

How to watch

Sky Sports Darts

OddsMichael van Gerwen 5/1, Jonny Clayton 13/2, Gerwyn Price 7/1, Peter Wright 8/1, Luke Humphries 10/1, Michael Smith 10/1

Outright - ones to watch

Damon Heta

Thirty-two go to post and this field looks more wide open than ever, with so many question marks over so many of the leading lights.

The form of Gerwyn Price and Wright has been pretty mixed, while Van Gerwen returns to the oche after wrist surgery so it's anyone's guess what form the Green Machine will be in.

One man whose form is as sizzling as the temperatures are going to be in Blackpool for much of the week, is Australia's Damon Heta.

The former Brisbane Master, up to No.19 in the world, has won a Pro Tour event this year, but well and truly trumped that by storming to World Cup glory alongside Simon Whitlock, his first major title success.

He is sixth in this year's Pro Tour Order of Merit, only two players can boast a higher average and everyone acknowledges that the 22/1 shot is throwing some electric tungsten.

Danny Noppert

Heta can take some serious scalps in the top half of the draw, while Dutch ace Danny Noppert is the man to do likewise in the bottom half.

Price and Michael Smith are the big names in this softer half, where Noppert - 20/1 outright - is ready to make a splash.

The Dutchman is having a stellar year in 2022, having landed his maiden PDC major at the UK Open in March.

He has twice made European Tour finals, was a semi-finalist alongside Dirk van Duijvenbode in last month's World Cup and heads to Blackpool with a first floor win of the season under his belt.

Quarter masters

To win first quarter

Reigning champion Wright heads the draw bracket and is 13/5 to win the first quarter, but he would be the first to admit his form needs to improve if he's to retain the title.

Without a win of any sort since February and gracious enough to admit his form has been "rubbish", he's not even a good thing to see off debutant Madars Razma in his opener.

Jonny Clayton at 9/4 will have his backers, though Van den Bergh is preferred at 3/1.

The Belgian is now a major player and clearly has a soft spot for this tournament, having won it in 2020 and reached the final again 12 months ago.

To win third quarter

With Heta in the second quarter and Noppert the fourth, that just leaves the third quarter, where Dave Chisnall gets the nod at 5/1.

Price is the man with the target on his back, but Gezzy isn't in the best of nick and, with the heat on and the crowd baying, the Welsh villain might not enjoy this. He's also been bundled out in round one in four of his last five goes at the Matchplay.

Chizzy, a five-time quarter-finalist, opens up against Kim Huybrechts - one win in seven trips to the Matchplay - and is playing well.

The former Lakeside finalist and Masters runner-up in January reached a Players Championship semi-final last weekend so has to be feeling confident.

First-round picks

No one knows what sort of shape Gary Anderson is in, least of all Ando himself, and he looks worth laying at odds-on against the very competent Daryl Gurney.

The Northern Irishman is threatening to emerge from the doldrums, has a major game in him, knows he can wind up the Flying Scotsman because he has done before, and is a decent price at 6/5.

Nathan Aspinall is back to near his best and looks a tasty 6/4 chance against man-of-the-year Luke Humphries.

And surely Adrian Lewis is worth a nibble at 12/5 against Van Gerwen, who is only just back from injury and that surely has to count against him.

By Steve Davies

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