World Grand Prix: Jonny Clayton bids to retain title with Peter Wright vowing to raise his game
Jonny Clayton will be out to retain his World Grand Prix title at Leicester's Morningside Arena from October 3-9; watch the unique double-start event live on Sky Sports Arena this week
Last Updated: 02/10/22 1:40pm
Jonny Clayton will be bidding to retain his World Grand Prix title in the unique double-start event, while Peter Wright has vowed to raise his game to "another level".
Clayton will begin the defence of his title defence against high-flying Dutchman Dirk van Duijvenbode, while world champion Wright begins his bid for a maiden World Grand Prix crown against Kim Huybrechts.
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Clayton clinched his first televised ranking crown in last year's showpiece with a 5-1 demolition of fellow Welshman Gerwyn Price.
The reigning champion will look to repeat those heroics in this year's 32-player tournament, which takes place at Leicester's Morningside Arena from October 3-9, with a record-breaking £600,000 prize fund on offer.
Clayton is hoping to follow in the footsteps of 11-time winner Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen - who is chasing a sixth crown this year - by becoming only the third player in World Grand Prix history to retain their title.
"The double-in double-out format is challenging, but it separates the men from the boys," said Clayton.
"I'm going to turn up and play to the best level I can. If I play my best game, I've got a good chance of defending my title so that's what I will try and do.
"There are not many people that have defended the World Grand Prix and I'd love to join that list, so fingers crossed it's going to happen again."
Van Duijvenbode defeated Clayton at the World Series of Darts Finals in Amsterdam a fortnight ago, but 'The Ferret' gained revenge with a thrilling 6-4 victory at last weekend's Belgian Darts Open.
Meanwhile, Wright will be featuring in his first televised ranking event since undergoing gallstones surgery in August, having returned to winning ways at last month's International Darts Open in Jena.
"I was really happy with the win in Jena," said 'Snakebite' Wright. "I won it quite easily, beating some top players on the way through, so after the surgery it's all good.
"I feel confident about where my game is. I think I'm in the top four on the averages over the past few months, so if I can hit my double to start, I should be pretty dangerous."
Wright, a runner-up to Michael van Gerwen in 2018, will be hoping to avoid a third consecutive first round exit in the double-start event when he takes on Belgian star Kim Huybrechts.
The world No 2 is without a televised ranking title since scooping his second World Championship crown in January, and he is determined to add to his haul in Leicester.
"The World Grand Prix is definitely on my list," insisted Wright. "I was practising for this tournament straight after the surgery. I said to myself that I've got to start on tops because it gives you the chance to get the highest start, so fingers crossed it works.
"Kim is playing well. He's in a good place and he's beaten me quite a few times recently, but this is double-start so it's a different playing field. If I hit my doubles, I'll win."
World No 1 Gerwyn Price takes on German debutant Martin Schindler in his opening round tie, while Michael van Gerwen begins his bid for a sixth World Grand Prix success against his old adversary Gary Anderson, in a repeat of the 2016 final.
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World Grand Prix
Schedule of Play
Monday October 3 (1900 BST)
8x First Round matches (best of three sets)
Callan Rydz vs Krzysztof Ratajski
Brendan Dolan vs Stephen Bunting
Chris Dobey vs Luke Humphries
Dimitri Van den Bergh vs Dave Chisnall
(7) Jonny Clayton vs Dirk van Duijvenbode
(2) Peter Wright vs Kim Huybrechts
(3) Michael van Gerwen vs Gary Anderson
(6) Jose de Sousa vs Adrian Lewis
Tuesday October 4 (1900 BST)
8x First Round matches (best of three sets)
Madars Razma vs Ryan Searle
Ross Smith vs Andrew Gilding
Danny Noppert vs Gabriel Clemens
Joe Cullen vs Damon Heta
(8) Rob Cross vs Daryl Gurney
(5) James Wade vs Martin Lukeman
(1) Gerwyn Price vs Martin Schindler
(4) Michael Smith vs Nathan Aspinall