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Michael van Gerwen on the Ladbrokes UK Open, pressure on Price and Barney return

| 04.03.2021

Michael van Gerwen is back to defend his Ladbrokes UK Open title.

MVG is the 4/1 favourite to win the tournament being played behind-closed-doors in Milton Keynes.

The action gets underway on Friday and Mighty Mike gave us his thoughts ahead of one of his favourite tournaments of the year.

On the Ladbrokes UK Open

The biggest tournament of the year is obviously the Worlds but I love the UK Open. It’s one of my favourites because of the format it’s like the FA Cup – it’s completely open for everyone and no one knows who they’re going to face next. On paper you might get lucky and get an easier game, but you could equally draw someone like Gerwyn Price.

It’s different and difficult to prepare because you don’t know who you’re going to play, but with my experience in this tournament and on that stage I have to handle it the same way I always do. It doesn’t matter who I’m playing against; I have to win.

Am I favourite to win this weekend? Well you can see there, people still clearly believe in me otherwise I wouldn’t be favourite. I’m the reigning champion and I’m feeling good in my game. I believe in my own ability and I know I can win the trophy again.

On nine-darters and 17 perfect darts in 2013

I hit a nine-darter against Daryl Gurney in this competition last year and I hope I can do more of the same this year. I’m feeling really good at the moment. The nine-darter would be nice but ultimately it’s important I feel good and win matches before anything else – especially in a televised tournament like this.

We saw four nine-darters across the Super Series last weekend and we could well see a record-breaking year on that front, especially with the circumstances and lack of fans at events, but you never know. There are a lot of players here this weekend so there’s a chance we might get another one but this tournament is not for everyone. We might see a few upsets as far as results go in the next few days but that’s the beauty of the UK Open.

I haven’t thought about those 17 perfect darts back in 2013 against James Wade all that much since it happened, to be honest. It’s in the past; it’s history. You can’t beat yourself up or think about what could have happened. It doesn’t count for anything anymore; it’s all about making sure your current results are good enough and you’re playing well.

You might say that what I almost did in that match against Wade may never be done again. But why not? With the standard of darts at the moment, why couldn’t someone throw back-to-back nine-darters? The standard is so good these days, that there are no more easy ties in the first rounds of events. Anyone can beat anyone.

Gerwyn is going to find it tough this year

My goal is simple this year. I need to try and get that number one spot back. It’s going to be tough, though.

I’ve got pressure on my shoulders. I’ll still be the man to beat. I need to make sure I play well because otherwise too many players are going to be able to say they’ve beaten Michael van Gerwen. I need to bring out my A game, starting this weekend.

I know for a fact Gerwyn Price is going to find it tough this year. Being number one and heading into tournament after tournament with that pressure on your shoulders, you need to be able to handle that and it’s not always that easy.

Gerwyn was a fair winner of the World Championships though and he did really well in the last two years so he deserves to be where he is right now.

Darts is a funny game though, because you can feel at your best but you can’t control what other players are going to do against you. For example, at the World Championships Dave Chisnall played a brilliant game against me. Is he going to be able to do that again? You never know. You just need to do all you can to make sure that kind of thing doesn’t happen too often to you.

You have to feel comfortable, you have to feel right and I’m in a good place right now. My last year wasn’t as good as I’d have expected but I did still manage a few big wins in tournaments so you have to just build on that.

On Barney’s return

Raymond van Barneveld is like the weather. He changes his mind as quickly as the weather. One minute it’s sunny, the next it’s raining. That’s exactly the same as Raymond. He always knew he was coming back to the sport one day. It was up to him; it’s not my call.

Personally, I would have done it a little bit differently. Everything he does he makes it into a big thing, and in doing that he puts pressure onto himself, and he doesn’t need to do that because he’s a good player.

Why he makes it difficult for himself is a bit weird in my opinion, but fair play to him. He did really well last weekend in the Pro Tour – he even won one of them. So to start off with a win, fair play to him.

Raymond knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s cleverly putting himself in an underdog position but normally that’s not Raymond. Soon enough that will change, I think.

View the latest Darts odds.

All odds and markets correct as of date of publication.

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Author

Alex Apati

Alex has been with the Ladbrokes PR team since 2017 having previously worked for the news department. From sparring with Peter Fury to talking interviews on the Duke and Duchess' baby names, he's covered a range of sports and novelty events.

A frustrated West Brom fan who is no stranger to an oche, Alex is originally from Dudley, although he's worked hard to rid himself of the Black Country twang.