World Grand Prix 2020: Michael van Gerwen faces Simon Whitlock in quarter-finals

After an indifferent couple of months Michael van Gerwen has returned to something like his best at the World Grand Prix – a tournament he has dominated.

Van Gerwen is a five-time champion of the unique double-to-start format, he is unbeaten since a first-round defeat to John Henderson in 2017, so it’s perhaps no surprise that he has found his best form in the comfort blanket of the Grand Prix.

And it’s no coincidence, as he said after his win over Devon Petersen in the second round on Thursday night.

“I’ve been putting a lot of work into my game in the last few weeks and I think it’s working out. You never lose your ability but you need to make sure your focus is right,” said the world No 1.

  • MvG punishes wasteful Petersen
  • World Grand Prix 2020: Results, draw, schedule

World Grand Prix – Quarter-Finals

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Van Gerwen’s blip needs to be put into perspective, he has still won the UK Open and two Pro Tour titles this year, but he used to dominate a lot more.

Early exits in the Premier League, another tournament that he has won five times, and the World Series of Darts Finals followed a second-round exit at the World Matchplay.

The man who sent him packing in Milton Keynes was Simon Whitlock, so it’s perhaps fitting that with Van Gerwen looking back to his best it is the Aussie who will be opposite him on Saturday night as the pair duke it out for a place in the last four.

MvG has had a glint in his eye all week, playfully teasing Wayne Mardle on his coaching relationship with Petersen and then preparing himself for a spot of revenge against the Wizard.

“Simon is a good player but I owe him one after the World Matchplay. I have to make sure I play with the same intensity and confidence. I feel comfortable and I can build on this,” he added.

“I did the damage at the right moments but Devon played a good game as well.

“It was close but it doesn’t matter how you win as long as you win. Devon is probably in the form of his life and he’s playing with a lot of confidence, and I’m happy with my performance. He’s a good guy and a good player, but he needs to know who the boss is!”

On the eve of the event Van Gerwen spoke to Sky Sports on how he has been working hard to put things right but always how he has been keeping things in perspective. A young family takes priority for the Dutchman, but there is a tournament to be won and his focus in on the matter at hand as he takes aim at a sixth title at the event, which would make it the event he has won more than any other.

“The crowd gives you lots of energy and you want to give them something back – but it’s a big tournament for us and we all want to win here, everyone is battling for it.”

The nature of the World Grand Prix, starting on doubles as well as finishing on them, shorter set play means Van Gerwen has been pushed in both matches despite his high averages and especially a convincing scoreline against Petersen.

Mardle is in no doubt that MvG is returning to his best form, pinpointing the Dutchman’s performance at the key moments against Petersen when he punished missed set darts from the South African before powering across the finish line.

“Champions are champions for a reason, they find a way.

“It was 3-0 against Devon but if felt closer than that. You could see that by the elation and how pumped up Michael was – he held it together when Devon couldn’t.”

The last few days in Coventry have seen a return to the old Van Gerwen swagger, not just in his performances but around the arena and in his press conferences. He will hope that continues when eight becomes four on Saturday night at the quarter-final stage.

Darts is back on to Sky Sports throughout October with the World Grand Prix and the Premier League Play-Offs. Follow us @SkySportsDarts to stay up to date with all the news.

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