World Grand Prix Day Three preview, schedule and predictions: Petersen to face defending champion Van Gerwen
The second round of the unique World Grand Prix commences on Thursday evening at the Ricoh Arena as only two seeds remain in the reckoning.
Only Michael van Gerwen and Gerwyn Price survived the opening hurdle out of the eight seeded competitors, with reigning world champion Peter Wright headlining the early exits.
Van Gerwen faces the in-form Devon Petersen as the second round gets underway, while his fellow multiple-time world champion Gary Anderson takes on Danny Noppert.
Meanwhile, World Matchplay winner Dimitri Van den Bergh locks horns with the flamboyant Dutchman Dirk van Duijvenbode, and Mervyn King faces late replacement Simon Whitlock.
DIMITRI VAN DEN BERGH VS DIRK VAN DUIJVENBODE
In a battle between the two longest names in the field, two-time world youth champion Van den Bergh opens up the second round against debutant Van Duijvenbode.
Fresh from lifting his maiden major honour behind closed doors in Milton Keynes, Van den Bergh was one of the more impressive players in the first round, easing past Michael Smith with an average in excess of the 96 mark.
Van Duijvenbode, meanwhile, produced the lowest winning numbers in a slugfest between himself and four-time semi-finalist Mensur Suljovic.
The Dutchman and the Belgian have met on several previous occasions, with the majority of those coming on the PDC’s secondary circuits – the Challenge and Development Tour – or smaller scale qualifying events.
They have locked horns once on stage as Van den Bergh narrowly ran out triumphant at the Gibraltar Darts Trophy five years ago, and the Belgian will fancy his chances of doing so once again.
Prediction: 3-1 Van den Bergh
MERVYN KING VS SIMON WHITLOCK
Two veterans and major finalists in King and Whitlock then face off in the second match of the evening, in a clash between two of the sport’s hardest workers.
Staggeringly, the esteemed pair have met at least once every year for the last decade, with Whitlock managing 22 victories from their 38 encounters over the years.
The Australian has won all six of their most recent meetings, including a World Championship showdown in December and two quarter-finals on the European Tour.
Whitlock stepped in as a late replacement for the coronavirus-stricken Adrian Lewis, and proceeded to average over 101 in a comfortable victory over last year’s semi-finalist Chris Dobey.
Former finalist King also impressed as he dumped out a two-time Grand Prix champion in James Wade, and cannot be underestimated if his recent form is anything to go by.
Prediction: 3-1 King
GARY ANDERSON VS DANNY NOPPERT
Both Anderson and Noppert could slowly be drifting under the radar as their second round battle beckons. They are now in relatively decent form and performed well in the opening round.
There is nothing between the two in terms of averages in the tournament thus far, nor their head-to-head statistics, with their four previous meetings being evenly shared.
Both names have beaten one another in front of the televised cameras, with Noppert most recently denying the Scotsman in last year’s World Series of Darts Finals, in which Anderson averaged a mere 71.
Two-time world champion Anderson overcame Rob Cross in the opening round, while Noppert battled back from a set behind to see off a valiant Ryan Searle.
Following the early departures of Cross, Michael Smith and Mensur Suljovic, both players now have a favourable route to the semi-finals, with Thursday’s match potentially proving a prosperous one for the winner.
Prediction: 3-2 Noppert
MICHAEL VAN GERWEN VS DEVON PETERSEN
Van Gerwen’s World Grand Prix dominance has been admirable over the years since he lifted that elusive crown eight years ago, but South Africa’s Petersen is another very capable opponent for the defending champion.
The Dutchman survived a scare in the first round at the hands of reigning Gibraltar Darts Trophy champion Krzysztof Ratajski, while Petersen denied eight maximums from Jose de Sousa.
Petersen holds an extremely pleasing record against the world number one, winning three of their six meetings, including a recent 6-0 triumph during the Autumn Series.
Van Gerwen claimed their only televised encounter, though, that arrived five years ago at the 2015 UK Open and Petersen has come on leaps and bounds since that occasion.
African trailblazer Petersen has transformed his game since the turn of the year and will be brimming with confidence, but likewise Van Gerwen is seemingly in the mood.
Prediction: 3-2 Van Gerwen
(Featured Image: Taylor Lanning/Darts World)