Whitlock can break the Machine
The men with the honour of being the first to ever throw a dart in the Dubai Duty Free Masters are James Wade and Simon Whitlock and it should be an excellent way to kick off the tournament between two evenly matched players.
The two men had only played once before 2010 but now their head-to-head record has reached 23 contests as the clash has become one of the most regular on the PDC calendar. Wade might be the man with the trophies in the cabinet and with the more impressive world ranking but it is the Aussie who has had the better of their battles over the last three years.
In fact, despite Wade making the semi-finals of the Premier League and Whitlock failing to do so it was the Wizard who won both their contests in the competition and that makes it three wins on the trot for him against Wade.
Despite this it is the Englishman who is odds-on favourite to succeed in the desert with Whitlock only just behind him but looking pretty good value at evens with Boyle Sports. It is a Premier League-esque format in Dubai with a race to 10 and with Whitlock having the better of the recent record it seems very feasible that he can keep the positive results going. In fact, in the search for added value it may well be worth backing the Wizard with a -1.5 handicap at 5/4 with Coral as the match going to a deciding leg in a race to 10 seems very unlikely.
Following on from the opening contest comes the clash of two former world champions in Adrian Lewis and Raymond van Barneveld and on recent form there can only be one winner in that contest. Adrian Lewis had an absolutely dismal Premier League campaign which saw him just barely avoid the relegation places but then failed to impress in the second half of the competition and stumbled to an eighth place finish.
Barney, on the other hand, was very impressive throughout and although he was on the wrong end of a rampant Phil Taylor performance in the semi-finals he will have certainly been pretty pleased with his performances.
It is not long ago that Jackpot would have been going into this as a warm favourite but it is difficult to see him really challenging the Dutchman in any meaningful way. He didn’t get near him in either of their Premier League contests and it will be a similar story in the UAE. Barney to win with a -2.5 handicap is odds-on in most places but evens with Stan James and that looks very good value indeed. At the moment, Lewis turning over van Barneveld would be as big a shock as any in this competition.
Simon Whitlock (-1.5) to win @ 5/4 with Coral
Raymond van Barneveld (-2.5) to win @ evens with Stan James