Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters: Michael van Gerwen begins defence against James Wade
Last Updated: 28/05/14 10:06pm
A week after missing out on the Premier League darts title, Michael van Gerwen will begin the defence of his Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters title against James Wade.
The second Dubai Masters gets underway on Thursday night, with Phil Taylor set to meet Peter Wright as the World Series of Darts event begins.
Van Gerwen had claimed the inaugural Dubai title 12 months ago when he defeated the 2014 Premier League champion Raymond van Barneveld at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium.
The world champion will face seven-time major winner Wade in Thursday's quarter-finals and the pair have a rich history of classic encounters, including the 2013 World Championship semi-final which saw Van Gerwen hit a nine-darter.
Phil Taylor, the 16-time world champion, has drawn 2014 World Championship finalist Peter Wright for their opener, while Australia's former European champion Simon Whitlock takes on Dave Chisnall.
The other tie sees reigning UK Open champion Adrian Lewis take on van Barneveld, who won the Betway Premier League Darts title last Thursday and also took victory when the pair met at the same stage in Dubai 12 months ago.
"I am really confident at the moment," said van Barneveld, in an appearance on Dubai One TV.
Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters draw
Adrian Lewis v Raymond van Barneveld
Simon Whitlock v Dave Chisnall
Phil Taylor v Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen v James Wade
Best of 19 legs
"I played a good Premier League and the final was brilliant against Michael, and I was over the moon to win the Premier League.
"Everywhere I come the crowd cheers my name and it would be great to see the Barney Army on Thursday and Friday. Hopefully it's going to be a good tournament."
The draw means that there is the potential for a repeat of the 2013 Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters final at the last four stage this time around, should van Gerwen and van Barneveld win their ties, although rivals Wade and Lewis will be hoping to prevent an all-Dutch semi-final.
Meanwhile, Taylor, Wright, Whitlock and Chisnall will form the opposite side of the draw as they bid to claim the $50,000 first prize on Friday night.