Barney ready to rumble
Raymond van Barneveld believes he is on the right track again as he renews his rivalry with Phil Taylor on Thursday night.
By Paul Higham
Last Updated: 25/03/09 12:41pm
Raymond van Barneveld believes he is on the right track again as he renews his rivalry with Phil Taylor in Thursday's Premier League showdown in Birmingham.
Darts fans will be flocking to the Second City on Thursday as the second half of the season begins with a showdown between two of the best players in history.
Barney started the season slowly, including an opening night defeat by Taylor, but the Dutchman has picked up since and won three of his last four.
Now van Barneveld hopes to exact some revenge on 'The Power' in Birmingham, after fighting his way back into form by playing less on the Pro Tour and focusing on the Premier League.
"In the first three weeks of the competition I played the others from the top four and it was hard work," said van Barneveld.
"Then I beat Terry Jenkins, had a draw against Wayne Mardle and beat Mervyn King, which was an important game, before I beat Jelle Klaasen to make it two 8-3 wins on the trot.
"I can't focus on the Premier League and the Pro Tour. I'm doing lots of things in the gym during the week, practising and then coming to play in the Premier League.
"The Pro Tour qualifies you for the big tournaments so I have to do it, and doing less of those but enough to qualify."
Van Barneveld has been overtaken by James Wade as the world number two after a bad year in 2008 - despite making the World Championship final at the Alexandra Palace.
"2008 was a disaster year for me and I'm pleased to have made it to the World Championship final and stayed in the top four," he added.
"That's where I want to be, and focusing on the number one and number two spots isn't too important at the moment because there's a big gap
"But prize money is increasing and it's good for us players and good for darts. At the end of the day you have to work harder every single year and every week because there are so many world class players."
King started the season on fire but has lost his last two and will be looking to hit back against Mardle in the opening match in Birmingham.
Jenkins is fresh from his first win of the season last week, but he has played consistently well throughout the tournament.
Klaasen is the only man without a victory so far and 'The Bull' will be hoping that statistic stays intact as they repeat their opening night showdown - which ended as a 7-7 draw.
Wade and John Part also drew in the first week but now the left-hander is top of the table and five points ahead of the Canadian ahead of their return.