Premier League Darts: Michael van Gerwen describes 'fun' of facing new opponents
By James Dielhenn
Last Updated: 06/02/18 5:21pm
Michael van Gerwen has praised Premier League Darts' new contenders – and warned established names that they must rise to the challenge.
Defending champion Van Gerwen won 7-2 on the opening night in Dublin against Rob Cross, who is one of four new faces alongside Daryl Gurney, Gerwyn Price and Mensur Suljovic.
"There are a lot of new names but they deserve it," Van Gerwen said. "People need to fight hard if they want to get back into the Premier League. There are so many good players standing up who want to be in the top four.
"It is still fun but it's totally different because we're used to Adrian Lewis making fun of everyone!"
Simon Whitlock, who returned to the Premier League after three years away, won 7-5 against Suljovic with a 106 average but received a warning from Van Gerwen.
"It's only one game. Don't get me wrong, Simon is a good player and on results, he deserves to be in," Van Gerwen said. "He had a phenomenal game and, with this win, he leaves bad feelings behind him. It will give him great confidence. There is a long way to go."
Van Gerwen's opening-night success gained him a measure of payback for his World Championship semi-final defeat to Cross, but he refused to acknowledge that it was "revenge".
"It's always nice to beat Rob, whether he won the Worlds or not. Revenge? I don't want to say that. But it's nice to beat the world champion.
"I made huge mistakes at the Worlds - I missed six match darts. He played a phenomenal tournament and won it but I came back stronger.
"To start [with a win] is a special bonus for me."
Premier League Darts Results - Night One (Dublin)
|Mensur Suljovic||5-7||Simon Whitlock|
|Gary Anderson||5-7||Michael Smith|
|Daryl Gurney||6-6||Raymond van Barneveld|
|Michael van Gerwen||7-2||Rob Cross|
|Peter Wright||6-6||Gerwyn Price|
The 2018 Premier League heads to the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff next Thursday with coverage underway from 7pm on Sky Sports Action. 15 weeks of tungsten action will continue through to the season's conclusion with the Play-Offs on May 17 at The O2 in London.
Keep up to date with the latest darts news, previews, reports, reaction and expert analysis. Get all the latest at www.skysports.com/darts and join in the conversation @SkySportsDarts- don't forget to use #LoveTheDarts
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