Adrian Lewis was criticised by Wayne Mardle and Eric Bristow for the manner of his performance in victory over Andy Smith. Although I can see where Mardle was coming from in his Sky Sports commentary, I cannot agree with the idea that he was in anyway intentionally disrespectful towards Pieman. It was, in my opinion, merely the nature of the match that led to Lewis looking lackadaisical at times; a slow early tempo with very little pressure put on Jackpot's throw, allowing him to cruise home, only upping the ante when required.
The fact that Lewis was able to up his game and take out big shots almost at will, should send out a harrowing message to the rest of the field. The two-time World Champion is on top of his game, and as mentioned in my Wednesday preview, has his eyes on the prize...
Ability and application are a lethal combination in any sport. The former has never been in doubt in regards to Adrian Lewis, but the latter is regularly brought in to question. When he turns it on Jackpot is unstoppable, as he has shown at the last two World Championships, but lacklustre performances at many of the season's other major tournaments have prevented the 27-year-old from stamping his authority as the world's best.
That could, however, all change this week as the World Matchplay title would also mean the world number one status for Lewis. The protégé could finally unseat the master.
With his 10-0 trouncing of UK Open champion Robert Thornton, Lewis laid down a marker to his competitors, one that nobody, Taylor included, has been able to pick up.
Next in line is world...
Tuesday night's matches involve four odds-on favourites at odds around 1.50 or shorter, but I could make a case for all four outsiders progressing to the second round. I certainly wouldn't be averse to suggesting backing all four outsiders to level stakes, with only two needing to come in for a healthy profit.
There is, however, one that I believe to be slightly better value than the others. The 3.2 available on Joe Cullen to beat Justin Pipe.
Cullen's run to the last 16 of the UK Open last month could, on reflection in a couple of year's time, mark the beginning of a special career. A player in control of his emotions and, on top of his game, Rockstar looks to have all the attributes required to make it in this sport. Now the youngster needs to take the next step and start establishing...
I like Mark Webster. He's a likeable sort, one of the good guys. And so it is through gritted teeth that I suggest today's bet. But that's what you have to do in this game; put sentiment to one side.
While Webster's form has dipped over the past six months, Colin Llloyd's own game has traversed a contrasting trajectory. The 2005 World Matchplay champion won the second Players Championship event of the weekend in Crawley at the beginning of this month, that victory coming off the back of a nine-darter in Berlin the week before and a semi-final appearance in Birmingham seven days previously.
Having won one of only two major titles here, Winter Gardens occupies a special place in the heart of Jaws, and although his more-recent record in Blackpool isn't anything to write home about (do...
[u]The Obvious Choice[/u]
It doesn't take a darts aficionado to pick Phil Taylor out as a potential winner of the World Matchplay. The Power has 11 Matchplay trophies in his cabinet and has won the last four in succession.
Those bare statistics alone suggest that the 2.7 available on Taylor winning the 2012 World Matchplay are fairly generous. And the draw handed to the world number one backs up that idea.
Taylor can be vulnerable in the early stages of tournaments, but an opening round match against old foe Mervyn King will only serve to focus his attentions. Should he beat King then Vincent van der Voort or Ian White would not be expected to pose much of a threat in the second round while the same could be said for potential quarter-final opponents Andy Hamilton, Brendan Dolan,...
We've seen it time and time again, whether it's the WGC - Accenture Match Play which starts on Wednesday, the Volvo-sponsored version or in team competitions like the Ryder Cup. Matchplay golf is a refined art, quite distinct from strokeplay. Some players thrive under head to head conditions, others hate it.
Below is my Masters and Mugs, four matchplay experts and four who haven't exactly excelled in this format in recent years.
Tournament record: Won 16, Lost 6
Outright odds: 19.0
No prizes for originality here, but the defending champion's wider matchplay record confirms his status as the man to beat in Arizona. Donald was also runner-up in last year's Volvo World Match Play, and has won two out of three singles matches at the...
Up first, at ten past one, are Andy Hamilton and Simon Whitlock. While The Hammer's performance against Anderson was straight out of the top drawer, his win over Henderson was more like a scrabble around the tool box. He's peaked too early and The Wizard will beat him with several legs, a magic wand and a beard to spare. The hirsute Australian is a true title contender.
The second game sees current World Champion Adrian Lewis face a resurgent Mark Webster and the quick right-hander versus the slightly more considered lefty will produce plenty of maximums between them. A small lay of Lewis is the recommendation here with a view to a trade, however, purely because I believe the afternoon start will suit his opponent more.
The third of today's four matches pits James Wade against Raymond...
With an exciting weekend already behind us, featuring a nine-darter from John Part and a marathon 14-12 between Painter and Lewis, tonight's World Matchplay Darts contests will bring us all back down to Earth with a bump. While the standard of arrows should still be exceptionally high, I can't see beyond the four favourites winning all their respective fixtures.
With a Jones/King/Newton/Taylor fourfold the obvious choice, there are some other decent opportunities to boost your betting bank in the correct score betting and 180s markets.
Newton and Taylor should win both their games without breaking sweat, which is quite an achievement in the flaming hot atmosphere of the Empress Ballroom. The Jones/Rand and King/Pipe matches, however, should be slightly closer affairs. In both of these...