England gunning for hat-trick of World Cup of Darts wins in Hamburg this weekend
Last Updated: 05/06/14 4:37pm
English duo Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis are aiming to complete a World Cup of Darts hat-trick when the expanded 32-nation event begins on Friday in Hamburg.
Taylor and Lewis have secured victory for England in the past two years, defeating Australia in a sudden-death leg in 2012 before retaining their title by overcoming Belgium in last year's final.
The duo take on Thailand debutants Thanawat Gaweenuntawong and Watanyu Charoonroj in Friday's first round, best-of-nine leg, doubles contest, with Lewis hoping to inspire England's football World Cup bid with another success in Hamburg.
The Stoke thrower said: "If we can win the World Cup of Darts, I'm sure the lads can go on and win the World Cup of football.
"A lot of people don't realise how much it means when you're up there with that England shirt on. It means a lot to both of us and we'll go up there and try our best, and hopefully come away with the trophy.
"We're both looking forward to the World Cup because we love playing darts with each other and we're both winners, and we want to win this for England."
Lewis cites 2010 winners Netherlands as England's main rivals going into the £200,000 tournament, with world champion Michael van Gerwen and new Premier League champion Raymond van Barneveld the favourites.
The Dutch duo lost out in a shock last-16 upset against Finland 12 months ago, but Van Gerwen travels to Germany on the back of his victory in the Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters a week ago.
"I've never won this tournament before, so it's a nice target for me," he said. "Last week was a great win for me and it was a boost for my confidence.
"I'm the world champion and Raymond's the Premier League winner and now I've won in Dubai, so we're the favourites but we need to try to play as well as possible.
"Last year was quite weird for me because I'd never played in the World Cup pairs before and the expectation was high on us. We were both playing quite well at the time and on stage we didn't perform like we wanted to and weren't as concentrated as we wanted to be.
"We both learned from it and I think we are both playing better than last year. Phil and Adrian are a fantastic pair but we know we can win this - we're seeded number two but I don't see it that way.”
As regards to the other challengers, van Gerwen added: "Scotland are strong this year - you have Peter Wright and Robert Thornton and there's no Gary Anderson - and Belgium did really well last year.
"Kim and Ronny Huybrechts are not players who are, for example, number one and eight in the world, but as a team they're brothers and know each other so well that they feel confident with each other, and that's why they play so well.
"If we concentrate and focus on ourselves from the beginning, then I think we can really do some damage but this year is going to be really difficult and we're looking forward to it."
The tournament's number three seeds are the Scots, with World Championship finalist Wright - who also lost out in last week's Dubai decider to Van Gerwen - joined by in-form Thornton. They open up against Russia.
2012 finalists Australia, represented by Simon Whitlock and Paul Nicholson, open their challenge against Danish duo Per Laursen and Dennis Lindskjold, while Jyhan Artut and Andree Welge of host nation Germany take on South Africa's Devon Petersen and Graham Filby in their opener.
Former semi-finalists Finland and Spain are also in action in the opening session, against Poland and New Zealand respectively.