Peter Wright tells rivals to get on the practice board ahead of World Matchplay

A refreshed Peter Wright is confident he can retain his World Matchplay crown despite the “terrible” form which has blighted his year so far.

It has been a troubled 2022 for Wright since he landed his second world title in January, both on and off the oche. Snakebite was diagnosed with gallstones in March and will have his gallbladder removed later this year.

That has impacted his form, with Wright failing to reach the Premier League play-offs and suffering a number of early exits in European Tour events. But since the World Cup of Darts last month, Wright has had the chance to reset and prepare properly for the Matchplay, one of the premier events on the darting calendar.

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The 52-year-old boldly predicted he would win the tournament 12 months ago, a promise he delivered on with one of the finest displays of his career. And he is confident of retaining his crown at Blackpool’s iconic Winter Gardens.

“Obviously my form has been terrible this year. I’ve had other stuff on my mind, we’ve had family stuff to deal with,” he said ahead of his first round match against Madars Razma on Saturday night.

“All that is sort of settled so we know what we are doing now. My head is in a good space and that’s all that counts. I believe I can go and do it again, only better this time. The other players will have to go back on the practice board if they want to win this one. I’m going to go and win it again.”

Asked what fuelled his confidence, Wright added: “Because I’ve been to the final and I’ve won it. I know what it takes to win it. My head’s right and, if you’re head’s right, it’s difficult to stop someone if they’re feeling confident.

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“I missed a European Tour event for that reason, to get ready for the Matchplay. It ended up being a week-and-a-half off to reset my whole game and get myself ready.”

The Winter Gardens is a unique setting with 2,000 raucous fans surrounding the stage at close quarters. It’s an environment some players deal with better than others. With that in mind, Wright believes this year’s tournament is wide open.

“You’ve got players who don’t perform there, quality players who don’t seem to like the stage for some reason or their game doesn’t turn,” he said.

“Then you’ve got proven players up there, like Gary Anderson. You’ve got Luke Humphries and Nathan Aspinall. Michael Smith’s been to the final. It’s wide open to be honest.”


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