Van Barneveld v Klaasen: Dutch Royalty Clash
The only match in the third round of this year’s UK Open to comprise two former World Champions, and an all-Dutch affair at that, Raymond van Barneveld and Jelle Klaasen will certainly be bringing a touch of glamour to the Reebok Stadium.
In many ways their nationalities and one identical trophy on their mantlepieces is where the similarities end between these two though, and even with Barney going off the boil in recent years, the void between them remains stark.
Klaasen’s run to the quarter-finals of the World Championships in 2009 and subsequent appearance in the Premier League seem an awful long time ago now and it is nearly two years since he made any impression on a major tournament reaching the last eight of the Matchplay in 2010.
This barren spell has seen the Matador tumble out of the top 32 and unless he can rediscover his ability to reach quarter-finals and beyond then he is unlikely to re-join the elite group any time soon.
Barney has similarly been on the slide in the rankings, but his current position of eighth is something Klaasen can only dream of and there have been some pretty clear signs that the five-time world champ has put an end to his slump.
He comes into this tournament as the number one seed thanks to two wins in two days in qualifiers back in April and to top the Order of Merit having competed in just four events shows a touch of class that others would kill for.
His Premier League performances were also a huge encouragement and although he didn’t make the final four in the end, he did silence a number of doubters who were suggesting he couldn’t compete with the best anymore.
Klaasen has beaten Barney in the past, but not since his first year in the PDC back in 2007, I don’t expect him to be bucking any trends now.
• Can anyone cut the Power?
• Chisnall v Van Barneveld: One for the Ages
• Newton v Thornton: The Warrior's Way
• Accumulate to Accumulate
• Painter v Monk: Monk could make victory a habit
• Michels v Griffiths: Miracles can happen
• Stompe v Tabern: Co can stomp out Saint
• Hylton v Alcinas: Beware the Spanish Inquisition
• Let Battle Commence in Bolton