Gary Anderson is in relaxed mood ahead of his title tilt at the World Matchplay
"You just switch off, that's what I like about it. It's done me the world of good I think"
By Josh Gorton
Last Updated: 20/07/19 10:36pm
Gary Anderson begins the defence of his World Matchplay crown against former Lakeside finalist Danny Noppert on Saturday and 'The Flying Scotsman' is in relaxed mood ahead of his return to the Winter Gardens.
The two-time world champion defeated Mensur Suljovic 21-19 in a classic contest 12 months ago to seal his maiden Matchplay title and complete the 'triple crown' but there's some uncertainty surrounding Anderson's game following an injury-ravaged 2019 so far.
The Scot was forced to withdraw from the Masters and Premier League due to a back injury and his return was delayed by an elbow problem, but he claimed World Cup of Darts glory alongside Peter Wright in Hamburg last month.
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Anderson has only picked up the solitary win across his two World Series appearances over the last fortnight but he did enjoy a run to the semi-finals of Players Championship 19 on Tuesday, which suggests he is finding form at the right time.
He takes on debutant Danny Noppert on the tournament's opening night - with Anderson winning their previous televised meeting 10-9 in a classic last-leg decider at the 2016 Grand Slam of Darts.
"If you went back five, six, seven or eight years ago you may be able to say I'll win that game, but nowadays the boys are so talented and they're getting better and better every year."
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"Nowadays it's going to be a hard game whoever you draw. It's going to be a tough game but it could have been worse," Anderson told the Darts Show podcast.
"If you went back five, six, seven or eight years ago you may be able to say I'll win that game, but nowadays the boys are so talented and they're getting better and better every year so every game is hard now, whether it's a seed or a non-seed. It's just the way the game's got."
Anderson has only competed in seven ranking events since last year's World Championship and he hopes that the longer format will see him regain the consistency that propelled him to glory 12 months ago.
"It would be better if I was a bit more consistent," he admitted.
"Having had six months off I've been struggling with the consistency in my game. It's not the best way to go to the Matchplay but I'm sure if I can get through a couple of rounds, the longer games will do me the world of good.
"The back is good. The elbow is good. I've dropped a couple of stone so I feel good, it's probably just the match practice; time on the stage that I've missed out on this year so that's going to be the hard bit but I'm looking forward to getting up there.
"I've not put in a lot of practice over the last six months. My back is fine but I've never gone out and played 40, 50 or 60 legs of darts. It will be good to see over the longer format how my back holds up. It's feeling good anyway so we'll just have to wait and see."
Prior to last year, Anderson had never gone beyond the semi-finals in Blackpool, but although he never relishes the journey, the 48-year-old hailed the intimate atmosphere inside the Winter Gardens.
"Blackpool has never been my favourite tournament because of the travel time, but the venue is absolutely brilliant - It's one of the hottest venues and the fans are all jammed in and it's always a top atmosphere."
The world No 4 also revealed that he's adopted a relaxed approach since making his return from injury. We're used to Anderson reeling in the big fish on the oche, but now he's trying to do the same away from it.
It's been great," Anderson added. "Feet up just letting the world go past. Absolutely fantastic. I've probably not fished for 30 odd years but Whitey [Ian White] got me into the carp fishing a couple of years ago so in the last year I've been absolutely mad on it.
"I've spent half my life playing darts and probably the other half doing things for other people and I just went 'it's time for some Gary time now' so the kids will go off to school and I'll go and sit by the lake for a good few hours.
"You just switch off, that's what I like about it. Whether you catch one or not, you're out in the fresh air, just watching the world go by. It's done me the world of good I think."
You don't have to wait long until darts is back on Sky Sports, with every dart from every session in Blackpool and the World Matchplay. It starts on Saturday, July 20 and the final is on Sunday, July 28.