Darts: Defending champion Cross relishing Alexandra Palace return

Defending World Darts champion Rob Cross (pic Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

Defending World Darts champion Rob Cross (pic Lawrence Lustig/PDC) - Credit: LAWRENCE LUSTIG

Rob Cross believes coming back to Alexandra Palace, Wood Green to begin the defence of his William Hill PDC World Darts Championship title tonight (Thursday), will bring the best out of himself.

Cross famously defeated 16-time champion Phil Taylor in the final – on his Ally Pally debut – 12 months ago and takes on the winner of the tournament’s opening fixture between World Matchplay semi-finalist Jeffrey de Zwaan and Indian Qualifier Nitin Kumar at 7pm, as the 28-year-old aims to repeat last year’s incredible success.

“I’ve been working hard in practice to make sure I’m ready and I can’t wait to get out there,” said Cross, who is priced at 22/1 with sponsors William Hill to win back-to-back titles.

“It’s the biggest tournament in the world so you’ve got to be ready.

“I might be a little bit edgy in the first game but I was last year too and it went well for me then, and coming back to Alexandra Palace might bring out the best in me.

“Last year was completely different because there was no pressure on me, but I’m really looking forward to it. I love the set play format.”

An increased field of 96 players from 28 countries will compete between December 13 right through to finals day on January 1, with the action shown live on the dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel abd with a record £2.5m prize money on offer in Barry Hearn’s lucrative world darts bonanza.

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Another pick of tonight’s fixtures features reigning Lakeside Women’s BDO World Champion Lisa Ashton making her PDC World debut against Holland’s Double Dekker Jan Dekker.

“I’m going to enjoy the experience and for me it’s great to be playing on the first night so I can get straight into it,” said 48-year-old Bolton-born Ashton.

“I’ve had some great support and a lot of respected people in the game have said nice things about me, but there’s also a bit of pressure that comes with that.

“But I’ll turn any nerves into positivity and adrenaline that will have a good effect on my game and hopefully I will do ladies’ darts proud.”

Thursday’s opening night also features the tie between Germany’s Martin Schindler and New Zealand’s Cody Harris, with the winner advancing to face last year’s semi-finalist Jamie Lewis on Friday afternoon.

Scotland’s two-time world champion Gary Anderson heads the Ally Pally bill on day two as he meets Paul Nicholson or Kevin Burness, while current world number one from Holland Michael van Gerwen enters the event on Saturday (December 15) where he will play either Alan Tabern or Raymond Smith.

“It feels amazing to win the World Championship title and you work so hard for it all year and it’s a phenomenal moment of completion,” said 11/8 pre-tournament favourite Van Gerwen who is aiming to claim his third PDC world title.

“I’ve won two but I want to win more and to do that I have to make sure that I’m ready. I know I’ll be a big favourite and there will be pressure on me, so I have to perform.

“People always play better against me than other players, maybe because there’s no pressure on them so I have to play well and make sure I prepare well.”

World number three and 2014 finalist Peter Wright, two-time world champion Adrian Lewis, Dave Chisnall and the legendary Singapore slinger Paul Lim are amongst the stars in action on Sunday.

Five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld begins his penultimate Ally Pally challenge – ahead of his retirement at the end of next year – on Monday against either Matthew Edgar or Darius Labanauskas.

The second round concludes on Friday December 21, while the third round is split either side of the Christmas break, with the fourth round being played on December 27-28 ahead of the quarter-finals across two sessions on December 29.

The semi-finals on Sunday December 30 will be followed on Tuesday January 1 by the final as sport’s first world champion of 2019 hoists the Sid Waddell Trophy.

A very limited number of tickets are still available for some sessions by logging on to pdc.seetickets.com/tour/2018-2019-william-hill-world-darts-championship or by calling 0844 871 8807.

2018/2019 William Hill World Darts Championship Schedule of Play

Thursday December 13 (7pm)

Jeffrey de Zwaan v Nitin Kumar (R1)

Martin Schindler v Cody Harris (R1)

Jan Dekker v Lisa Ashton (R1)

Rob Cross v De Zwaan/Kumar (R2)

Friday December 14

Afternoon Session (1230pm)

Michael Barnard v Jose De Sousa (R1)

Alan Tabern v Raymond Smith (R1)

Paul Nicholson v Kevin Burness (R1)

Jamie Lewis v Schindler/Harris (R2)

Evening Session (7pm)

Danny Noppert v Royden Lam (R1)

Simon Stevenson v Ted Evetts (R1)

Chris Dobey v Boris Koltsov (R1)

Gary Anderson v Nicholson/Burness (R2)

Saturday December 15

Afternoon Session (1230pm)

Richard North v Robert Marijanovic (R1)

Mickey Mansell v Jim Long (R1)

Josh Payne v Jeff Smith (R1)

Max Hopp v Noppert/Lam (R2)

Evening Session (7pm)

Toni Alcinas v Craig Ross (R1)

Ryan Searle v Stephen Burton (R1)

Keegan Brown v Karel Sedlacek (R1)

Michael van Gerwen v Tabern/Ray Smith (R2)

Sunday December 16

Afternoon Session (1230pm)

Gabriel Clemens v Aden Kirk (R1)

William O’Connor v Yordi Meeuwisse (R1)

Brendan Dolan v Yuanjun Liu (R1)

Dave Chisnall v Payne/J Smith (R2)

Evening Session (7pm)

Luke Humphries v Adam Hunt (R1)

Matthew Edgar v Darius Labanauskas (R1)

Ross Smith v Paul Lim (R1)

Peter Wright v Alcinas/Ross (R2)

Monday December 17 (7pm)

Vincent van der Voort v Lourence Ilagan (R1)

Wayne Jones v Devon Petersen (R1)

Ryan Joyce v Anastasia Dobromyslova (R1)

Raymond van Barneveld v Edgar/Labanauskas (R2)

Tuesday December 18

Afternoon Session (1230pm)

Robert Thornton v Daniel Larsson (R1)

Ricky Evans v Rowby-John Rodriguez (R1)

Krzysztof Ratajski v Seigo Asada (R1)

Darren Webster v Van der Voort/Ilagan (R2)

Evening Session (7pm)

Steve Lennon v James Bailey (R1)

Ron Meulenkamp v Diogo Portela (R1)

Dimitri Van den Bergh v Chuck Puleo (R1)

Daryl Gurney v Ross Smith/Lim (R2)

Wednesday December 19

Afternoon Session (1230pm)

Nathan Aspinall v Geert Nentjes (R1)

Jeffrey de Graaf v Noel Malicdem (R1)

Joe Cullen v Dolan/Liu (R2)

Kim Huybrechts v Thornton/Larsson (R2)

Evening Session (7pm)

James Wilson v O’Connor/Meuwisse (R2)

Simon Whitlock v Joyce/Dobromyslova (R2)

Michael Smith v Meulenkamp/Portela (R2)

James Wade v Ratajski/Asada (R2)

Thursday December 20

Afternoon Session (1230pm)

Jermaine Wattimena v Barnard/De Sousa (R2)

Alan Norris v Lennon/Bailey (R2)

Stephen Bunting v Humphries/Hunt (R2)

Steve Beaton v Dobey/Koltsov (R2)

Evening Session (7pm)

Cristo Reyes v Evans/Rodriguez (R2)

Mervyn King v Dekker/Ashton (R2)

Adrian Lewis v Stevenson/Evetts (R2)

Mensur Suljovic v Searle/Burton (R2)

Friday December 21

Afternoon Session (1230pm)

Benito van de Pas v Mansell/Long (R2)

John Henderson v Clemens/Kirk (R2)

Steve West v North/Marijanovic (R2)

Kyle Anderson v De Graaf/Malicdem (R2)

Evening Session (7pm)

Ian White v Jones/Petersen (R2)

Jelle Klaasen v Brown/Sedlacek (R2)

Gerwyn Price v Aspinall/Nentjes (R2)

Jonny Clayton v Van den Bergh/Puleo (R2)

Saturday December 22

Afternoon Session (1230pm)

Whitlock/Joyce/Dobromyslova v Norris/Lennon/Bailey (R3)

Chisnall/Payne/J Smith v Huybrechts/Thornton/Larsson (R3)

Gurney/Ross Smith/Lim v J Lewis/Schindler/Harris (R3)

Evening Session (7pm)

Suljovic/Searle/Burton v Wilson/O’Connor/Meeuwisse (R3)

G Anderson/Nicholson/Burness v Wattimena/Barnard/De Sousa (R3)

Van Gerwen/Tabern/Ray Smith v Hopp/Noppert/Lam (R3)

Sunday December 23

Afternoon Session (1230pm)

Webster/Van der Voort/Ilagan v Beaton/Dobey/Koltsov (R3)

Cullen/Dolan/Liu v King/Dekker/Ashton (R3)

Wade/Ratajski/Asada v Klaasen/Brown/Sedlacek (R3)

Evening Session (7pm)

A Lewis/Stevenson/Evetts v Van Barneveld/Edgar/Labanauskas (R3)

Price/Aspinall/Nentjes v K Anderson/De Graaf/Malicdem (R3)

Cross/De Zwaan/Kumar v Reyes/Evans/Rodriguez (R3)

Thursday December 27

Afternoon Session (1230pm)

White/Jones/Petersen v West/North/Marijanovic (R3)

Clayton/Van den Bergh/Puleo v Bunting/Humphries/Hunt (R3)

M Smith/Meulenkamp/Portela v Henderson/Clemens/Kirk (R3)

Evening Session (7pm)

Wright/Alcinas/Ross v Van de Pas/Mansell/Long (R3)

Fourth Round x2

Friday December 28, afternoon session (1230pm), fourth Round x3

Evening Session (7pm), fourth Round x3

Saturday December 29

Afternoon Session (1230pm), Quarter-Finals x2

Evening Session (7pm), Quarter-Finals x2

Sunday December 30 (7pm)


Tuesday January 1 (8pm)



First Round - Best of five sets (no tie-break)

Second Round - Best of five sets

Third Round - Best of seven sets

Fourth Round - Best of seven sets

Quarter-Finals - Best of nine sets

Semi-Finals - Best of 11 sets

Final - Best of 13 sets

A tie-break will be in operation in all round from the second round onwards, where the final set must be won by two clear legs. If the score reaches five-all, the 11th leg will be a sudden-death leg.

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