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Gurney hoping day off can help ramp up world title quest



Pointing the way: Daryl Gurney during his victory over Vincent van der Voort

Pointing the way: Daryl Gurney during his victory over Vincent van der Voort

Pointing the way: Daryl Gurney during his victory over Vincent van der Voort

Daryl Gurney's annual New Year's resolution has, for the last few years, been to become world champion. And that dream could become reality as early as Sunday evening - despite Gurney last night rubbishing the old adage that practice makes perfect.

The Northern Ireland No.1 powered through to tomorrow's quarter-finals of the £2.5m behind-closed-doors showpiece at Alexandra Palace by beating Vincent van der Voort 4-2 in yesterday's fourth round, a 10-darter thrown in for good measure.

And coming on the back of a quality victory over Chris Dobey following an opening success against Limerick's Willie O'Connor, Gurney is suddenly right in the mix for the £500,000 top prize - and the accolade of Ireland's first ever world darts champion.

Firstly, though, he faces a tough quarter-final tomorrow against Gerwyn Price, who beat Mervyn King 4-1 last night.

Gurney said: "I can beat anyone. You just never know what can happen. My mindset is going to change now. I have been over-practising this season. I have a day off now and I will be ready to rock.

"I have been playing poorly this season but that's down to over-practising - now I am not burning myself out before matches.

"I feel like I am a good player - I don't feel I am the best player. I am always the person punching above his weight. When I get opportunities I need to take them because, although I am a big scorer, I am not the biggest scorer," added Gurney, who has only ever reached the quarter-finals once before, back in 2017.

The 34-year-old World No.11 was unimpressed with his win over the experienced Van der Voort.

"I want to win and I want to play well. I was terrible at times. I could have won 4-0 but it could easily have gone to a decider. I thought, 'If it goes to a decider I will get beat'," said the man known as 'Superchin'.

"I need to improve. I put myself under so much pressure by hitting perfect treble 20s and then pulling the next dart. I was scolding myself.

"You come to the end of the year and you are playing in the biggest tournament in the world. If I do well it means this season hasn't been so bad - but it's fine lines.

"I hardly slept last night - two hours maximum. I kept thinking that if I can get through this match it could potentially transform my whole year."

Gurney started strongly yesterday, taking the opening leg with a 125 checkout, and quickly wrapped up the first set 3-1 against the throw. The next four legs were shared before the Londonderry thrower had two set darts but let the Dutchman - a surprise 4-2 third-round winner against No.6 seed Nathan Aspinall - off the hook and the No.27 seed levelled at one set all. Game on!

Gurney then broke the throw with that stunning 10-darter - he missed double 12 as he only just failed to emulate James Wade's feat from the previous day.

Wade was defeated despite that moment of darting magic but Gurney - with a 93.65 average - was not to be denied, going 2-1 up in sets before a 120 check-out made it 3-1.

Back came Van der Voort for 3-2 ahead of Gurney clinching a 4-2 victory with a double 16 finish.

Elsewhere yesterday afternoon, Stephen Bunting saw off Ryan Searle 4-3 and Gary Anderson swept past Devon Petersen 4-0.

Last night, Dirk van Duijvenbode beat Glen Durrant 4-3.

Belfast Telegraph