Richard North excited to play Simon Whitlock at World Grand Prix in Dublin
"If it wasn't for Simon I wouldn't be here"
By Sky Sports Darts
Last Updated: 03/10/17 12:51pm
Richard North has thanked his second-round opponent Simon Whitlock for helping him make it onto the big stage at the World Grand Prix in Dublin.
North enjoyed a dream debut with a straight-sets win over Mark Webster, who stepped into the tournament on Sunday night following the withdrawal of expectant father Gary Anderson.
Hampshire-based North only turned professional in January when he won a PDC Tour Card at Qualifying School, but marked his continued rise with the biggest win of his career.
He claimed the opening set without reply, taking out a brilliant 145 checkout in leg two, before coming from a leg down in set two to claim victory.
"I was preparing to play Gary but then it got changed to Mark and it scared me - my preparation was out of the window," North told the official PDC website. "I sneaked a few doubles and hit the right scores at the right time and I got the win.
"When I won my Tour Card in January I wanted to try and get into one TV event and reach a quarter-final and I've done that, but it's more than I expected."
North will now meet Whitlock in the second round on Wednesday, with the Australian having encouraged the 27-year-old to join the circuit on a full-time basis.
"If it wasn't for Simon I wouldn't be here," added North. "He gave me the confidence to do what I'm doing now, saying I was good enough and pushing me on so it will be hard playing Simon.
"We practised together before this game and we both knew we could meet in the second round, and we know each other's games inside out - but I don't think it will affect us.
"I've beaten him twice on the ProTour but that won't mean anything because he's a TV player. He's got all the experience but I just want to enjoy it - it should be interesting and a close game."
The biggest names in darts are competing at Dublin's Citywest Hotel for the 2017 World Grand Prix and you can watch all the action with us only on Sky Sports
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