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19:15 Dimitri Van den Bergh v Krzysztof Ratajski: Ratajski To Have The Highest Checkout And Lose The Match
It has to be said that Dimitri Van den Bergh has put up a stern defence of the Phil Taylor trophy so far. Dancing Dimi enjoyed his first major success at the World Matchplay in 2020 and only has two more hurdles to jump to keep his crown for another year. Van den Bergh has progressed this far by seeing off Devon Petersen in the opening round, before taking a barn-burner against Dave Chisnall in the last 16. He then ignored all Gerwyn Price’s mind games to batter the current world champion in the quarter-finals and advance to the final four.
He takes on Polish darting sensation Krzysztof Ratajski in tonight’s opener and it promises to be a tasty showdown on the Blackpool stage. Ratajski has been getting his business done at the Winter Gardens in a quiet, but impressive manner. The Polish Eagle took down Brendan Dolan with ease in the first round and did the same thing to Luke Humphries next time out. He then powered past a game Callan Rydz 16-8 in their last eight to make it to his first-ever televised semi-final on the PDC Tour.
If you look at the recent record between these two on the Tour, you’d be tempted to just stop reading this and back Ratajski to win, as he leads that stats 2-0 in games in the last two seasons. But, the stats don’t paint the full picture! Van den Bergh is ahead of the Pole 4-3 in lifetime meetings and is vastly more experienced than the Ratajski in high-pressure matches on the big stage.
As mentioned, Van den Bergh has that World Matchplay title under his belt and has also appeared in the last four at the Grand Slam Of Darts in 2020 and the World Cup Of Darts twice (2018 and 2020). That counts for a lot here, and we’re backing Dancing Dimi to win and be in a second consecutive final on Sunday.
That said, we do like Ratajski to at least have the highest out shot in this match. He has had five ton-plus at the tournament, to just two from Van den Bergh, and he also has a better checkout percentage at the World Matchplay than the Belgian.
It’s rather unusual for Michael van Gerwen not to be favourite to win a darts match. However, a combination of recent poor form, iffy tournament performances and an opponent who’s flying high, sees the great MVG go into this tie as a rare underdog tonight. But, he’s had it easy in Blackpool so far, as Damon Heta, Ian White, and Nathan Aspinall have all fallen at his feet to date without much of a fight.
On the flip side, Peter Wright appears to be back to the form that made him World Champion in 2020 and he has been tying this competition in knots since it started. Snakebite has seen off decent players in Danny Noppert, Joe Cullen, and Michael Smith at Blackpool this week, as he looks to win the World Matchplay for the first time in this career.
These two last met just over two weeks ago in the final of the Players Championship 20 and Wright lengthened the trophy-less run of Mighty Mike (which stretches back to November 2020) by battering him 8-2 in the decider.
The Scot has also been outscoring (101.77 average points to 96.80) and out-finishing (45.12% checkouts to 39.78%) Van Gerwen at this tournament too, and with MVG having the lowest scoring average of the four players remaining at the World Matchplay, we can only see a Wright victory on the cards.
We also fancy him to do it with a bit to spare as he has been utterly ruthless on the Winter Gardens stage so far. His opponents have grabbed just 14 legs off him in his three matches to date and he’ll surely like his chances of a comfortable win over the man he beat to become World Champion for the first time here.
19:15 Dimitri van den Bergh v Krzysztof Ratajski: Ratajski To Have The Highest Checkout And Lose The Match
20:45 Peter Wright v Michael van Gerwen: Wright (-1.5) Legs
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