Warrior in for a battle
Rarely has a quarter-final line-up in a major tournament been more open as just two seeded players remain at the last eight stage of the World Grand Prix in Dublin.
The tournament has been an absolute minefield for betting with favourites proving unreliable ever since the first night and as a result we don’t have any of the world’s top five players left with three nights of action still to go.
All four contests on Friday night look pretty tasty affairs but the highlight could just be the clash between Wes Newton and Paul Nicholson in the bottom half of the draw. Newton was being tipped in some circles to win the tournament before a dart was thrown, and now he is the highest ranked player left in the competition there will be some serious money going on him to lift the trophy, especially with 5/1 still an available price.
Nicholson can beat anyone on his day though and will see this as a great opportunity to move back up the rankings towards the top eight where he feels he belongs. He also triumphed in the only match between the two men on the big stage as he edged out Newton in last year’s Grand Slam group stages. The Warrior should win this one, but whichever way it goes it will be a nervy and probably lengthy contest, so the 7/4 offered by bet365 on it going to the full five sets looks a good price.
The new favourite for the tournament is the conqueror of the world champion, Michael van Gerwen who has been in fine form for some time now and having beaten Adrian Lewis will be full of confidence. Opponents don’t come much tougher than Andy Hamilton though and the Dutchman will have to play just as well again if he wants to make it into the semi-finals. The Hammer came through a brilliant match with Steve Beaton in round two and his stats from that stage are more impressive than Mighty Mike’s so the world finalist will not be scared of facing the man in lime green. It is a really tough one to call but the consistency Hamilton has shown in big tournaments in recent times just gives him the edge. If van Gerwen is on top form he will win, but anything else and the Hammer will strike, and at 5/4 he looks a good price to do just that.
The first match on Friday evening sees Justin Pipe taking on the man who is making the Citywest Hotel his own, Brendan Dolan. Last year’s surprise finalist wasn’t expected to make much of an impact again but after wins over Gary Anderson and Vincent van der Voort he finds himself in the last eight again. He will face his toughest task yet though against Pipe who is heading into the top 10 in the world regardless of what happens in the last eight. It is hard not to back Dolan in this competition, especially given the fact that he beat the Force just last month in the European Championship but Pipe is destined to win a big one at some stage and he will fancy his time to be now. He is favourite at around 7/10 and he should be preparing for his first major semi-final come Saturday morning.
The final contest of the quarter-finals has the potential to steal the show as two men who have played brilliantly thus far collide. Few expected Rob Thornton and Mervyn King to be battling it out at this stage, but they are here on merit and have played out of their skin to make it this far. Nothing needs to be said about Thornton’s stunning win over Phil Taylor, but King’s victory over Dave Chisnall may have grabbed less headlines but was equally impressive. The Scot is marginal favourite and it is understandable why, but this will be very tight and like the Newton v Nicholson match the offer of 7/4 to go to five sets is a good one.
• Dutch invasion to topple King
• Expect an epic semi-final
• Van Gerwen to hit the Jackpot
• Power to remove Thorn from side
• Lewis to start with a bang
• Unstoppable force meets immovable Wizard
• What a difference a weekend makes
• Taylor still the man to overpower