Class field makes for fascinating World Matchplay, says Rod Harrington
Rod Harrington is tipping Phil Taylor to return to form and seal a 14th World Matchplay crown.
Last Updated: 09/07/13 1:15pm
The Power suffered a shock defeat to Ronny Huybrechts in Germany last weekend but Harrington, who himself won the Matchplay title in 1998 and 1999, expects reigning world champion Taylor to return to his very best when the second most prestigious event in darts gets underway in Blackpool on Saturday July 20.
"Phil is really up for it," Harrington told Sky Sports News after making the draw for the 20th BetVictor World Matchplay.
"He didn't play too well last weekend but before that he's been playing exceptional.
"Given the way he won the UK Open and the way he beat Michael van Gerwen, it is hard to see anybody outside of Phil if he gets his mind on track."
Taylor has been drawn to face Stuart Kellett in round one at the Winter Gardens. Harrington expects the 16-time world champion to prevail but warned 31-year-old Kellett will not be daunted by his tough task.
"Stuart is one of the up and coming young professionals and he's not scared of Phil," he said.
"He'll get up there and take the game to Phil there's no question, but Taylor's going to be hard to beat."
However, Harrington says Taylor won't have it all his own way, with the World Matchplay field as strong as it has ever been.
Michael van Gerwen and Adrian Lewis are among the bookies' favourites to dethrone Taylor, but Harrington says there are plenty of other players hitting top form at just the right time.
"We have the 32 best performing pros at the time in Blackpool and so many of them are really peaking," he said.
"As well as Van Gerwen, Lewis and Taylor, don't forget Snakebite Peter Wright, Jamie Caven is playing exceptional, Kevin Painter is playing well and there are so many players who can put their name on this title."
But whatever the outcome, Harrington is convinced the tournament will deliver another fascinating week of action and drama.
The event is hugely popular with fans and players alike and Harrington was full of praise for the competition.
"The crowd make it special," he said.
"They're up there on their holidays so they're in a party mood and they're darts fans, too. When you walk into that arena and see the high ceiling it just makes it special, it really does.
"This is getting closer and closer to the World Championship. Phil Taylor says it is his favourite tournament and it has that spark of specialness."
Watch the World Matchplay live on Sky Sports HD from Saturday July 20