Van Gerwen to face Wright in Masters opener

Michael van Gerwen will begin his bid to win a fourth successive Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters title on Thursday against Peter Wright, as world champion Gary Anderson prepares to face Raymond van Barneveld.

The first PDC World Series of Darts tournament of 2016 sees eight top stars lining up in the unique open-air setting of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium on Thursday and Friday.

World No 1 Van Gerwen has never been defeated in the three previous years in Dubai, winning all three events since 2013, and will start his challenge to claim a fourth successive title against Wright in a repeat of the 2014 final.

The Dutchman won his second Premier League title last Thursday in London, and has already won 10 tournaments during 2016.

He said: “I love it in Dubai and I’m really confident and playing well. Winning the Premier League helped that confidence but I’ve always done well here and I hope I can keep that successful run going in this tournament.

“I need to concentrate on my own performance, prepare really well and I hope I can do some good damage again – but it’s not going to be easy because there are eight fantastic players here and you can’t underestimate anyone.

“Peter’s a fantastic player who’s improved himself in the last few years, so I need to make sure I’m ready for the game.”

Wright, who followed up his appearance in the final in Dubai by finishing runner-up in the Japan Darts Masters last year, said: “It’s a great tournament and I’m really looking forward to it.
“Obviously I’ve got a really hard draw against Michael, he’s the man in form but when he gives me chances I’ve got to take them. It’s going to be very difficult but I believe I can get on top of him.”

Anderson, who retained the world title in London in January, will begin his tilt to claim a first World Series of Darts title against Van Barneveld.

Phil Taylor comes up against James Wade in a repeat of the 2015 Perth Darts Masters final, while Adrian Lewis – last year’s Auckland Darts Masters champion – has drawn Dave Chisnall, who previously competed in Dubai in 2014.

Following Thursday’s quarter-finals, the tournament will conclude on Friday with the semi-finals and final.

Quarter-Finals (best of 19 legs):

Adrian Lewis v Dave Chisnall

Phil Taylor v James Wade

Gary Anderson v Raymond van Barneveld

Michael van Gerwen v Peter Wright

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