World Matchplay Day Six preview, schedule and predictions: Quarter-finals commence in Milton Keynes
As the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Matchplay commence in Milton Keynes, neither of the world’s top four remain in the tournament.
World number one Michael van Gerwen, world champion Peter Wright, Gerwyn Price and defending champion Rob Cross have all endured early exits at the Matchplay’s temporary home of the Marshall Arena.
A massive opportunity beckons for eight players, seven of who haven’t lifted a major accolade in a number of years, some not ever in their careers thus far.
Two Gibraltar Darts Trophy champions in Krzysztof Ratajski and Michael Smith raise the curtain on the quarter-finals, before major champions Gary Anderson and Simon Whitlock return to the fray.
KRZYSZTOF RATAJSKI VS MICHAEL SMITH
Smith’s admiration of Ratajski has often been mentioned. Due to his wife Dagmara also residing from Poland, ‘Bully Boy’ has been supportive of what Ratajski has done for the sport in the country.
Ratajski owns a winning record against Smith, having won four of their seven meetings, though, this is without a doubt their most high-profile clash, in spite of a few encounters on the European Tour.
Krzysztof Ratajski prepares for his first major quarter-final since the 2017 World Masters (Photography: Lawrence Lustig/PDC)
‘The Polish Eagle’ has been in scintillating form thus far in the tournament, having recorded averages of 107.53 and 99.69 in overcoming Jermaine Wattimena and German debutant Gabriel Clemens in a tie-breaker.
Smith was also in need of extra-time to see off fellow former Matchplay finalist Mensur Suljovic in the second round, despite clocking ten maximums, after thrashing Jonny Clayton with a 101.02 average in his opener.
The former World Championship finalist has reached the quarter-finals on one occasion, having embarked on a run to the final 12 months ago, whereas Ratajski enters uncharted territory since rising into the sport’s upper echelons.
Judging by the pair’s performance levels so far and their consistency when competing on the circuit, a closely contested World Matchplay classic could be in store.
Prediction: 16-13 Ratajski
SIMON WHITLOCK VS GARY ANDERSON
Fresh from his unforeseen second round victory over the world champion one van Gerwen, Whitlock will be vying to pull off another shock victory over a multiple-time world champion.
After registering a mediocre average of just 89.96 in his opener against Ryan Joyce, Whitlock upper his standard significantly to average 98.11 and convert six maximums to gain one of the scalps of his career.
Meanwhile, former winner Anderson has quietly gone about his business and somewhat gone under the radar, despite currently being enumerated the tournament favourite by most bookmakers.
Whitlock and Anderson contest their 18th televised meeting (Photography: Lawrence Lustig/PDC)
‘The Flying Scotsman’ defeated both an injury-stricken Justin Pipe and a below-par James Wade to reach this stage of the tournament, where he’ll need to drastically improve against an inspired Australian.
The former European Championship winner prepares for his sixth World Matchplay quarter-final, whereas Anderson enters just his fourth, despite having qualified for the tournament on one added occasion than his Aussie opponent.
Anderson is rightfully the heavy favourite with the tournament sponsors, however, if Whitlock can accumulate numbers similar to his second round match, the Somerset-based ace could be placed under masses of pressure.
Prediction: 16-10 Anderson
Day Six of the Betfred World Matchplay gets underway at 7pm from the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes and is broadcast live on Sky Sports Action.
(Photography: Lawrence Lustig/PDC)