Defending Champion Gregory Gaultier will head to the PSA Dubai World Series Finals as the in-form man after winning his last six world tour titles since finishing runner-up at January’s Tournament of Champions in New York.
The 34-year-old has won his last six world tour titles since finishing runner-up at January’s Tournament of Champions in New York.
His unbeaten run, which could stretch to over 30 matches when the action commences in Dubai from June 6-10, has seen him return to top spot in April’s PSA world rankings, as well as stretch his record as the sport’s oldest world No 1.
The Frenchman, who is now number 2 in the world, qualified second in the PSA Road to Dubai standings, and says he will now look to replicate last year’s sizzling form in the emirate.
Gaultier said: “I’ve had an amazing run since January and of course I want to finish the season on a high note as well in Dubai and hopefully perform the best I can.
“There’s no secret, it’s all about hard work. I’ve been training hard for 30 years. My motivation this year came from the frustration I had in 2016, missing so many events through injury.
“That really fired me up, but I’ve also been able to relax myself on court and that’s allowed me to play better squash and I feel better for it.”
Only the top eight ranked men’s and women’s players in the PSA Road to Dubai rankings qualified to contest the season-ending PSA Dubai World Series Finals.
Two round robin groups of four will contest the $160,000 Finals at Dubai Opera and Gaultier will have his work cut out in perhaps the toughest of the four quartets.
With only two players qualifying for the semi-finals, Gaultier will be up against three former world No 1’s in Ramy Ashour, Mohamed ElShorbagy and James Willstrop in the best-of-three format.
“It’s an intense sport and the key is the recovery I do between matches and between events with my team,” added Gaultier.
The 2015 world champion dropped only two games on his way to the Dubai title last year, performing brilliantly in front of his wife and son.
He added: ““Winning there last year – on my first time in Dubai – was amazing. I had a really unique moment with my kid coming on court to celebrate with me – that moment will live in my memory forever.
“They’re coming with me again this year so hopefully they will bring me that good luck again.”
Tickets for the World Series Finals can be purchased at dubaiopera.etixdubai.com.
The PSA Dubai World Series Finals takes place from June 6-10, 2017 with the tournament match schedule to be announced on Monday June 5. All of the action will be shown live on SQUASHTV (rest of world) and Eurosport Player (Europe only).
Group stage matches will take place at 3:00pm, 3:45pm, 16:45pm and 17:30pm (Group A) and 21:30pm, 22:15pm, 23:15pm and 00:00am (Group B) between June 6-8 with the semi-finals due to take place from 21:30pm on June 9. The finals will commence at 21:30pm on June 10.
16-time world champion Phil Taylor is set to retire without a Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters crown to his name after holder Gary Anderson breezed to a comprehensive 10-3 humiliation on opening night.
‘The Flying Scotsman’ yesterday claimed his biggest-ever win against the sport’s dominant character, earned courtesy of a punishing 99.26 average and eight 180s. A merciless six legs in a row were attained to go 7-1 up, with 56-year-old Taylor – who will call it quits next January – unable to mount a sustained retort.
The victor had no qualms about ending his exalted opponent’s pursuit of one of the few pieces of silverware to elude him during a historic 30-year career.
“All the players don’t care, we are all after the title,” said Anderson, who will clash with 2017 UK Open champion Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright in tonight’s semi-finals. “It is one of these things.
“Phil is probably the hungriest darts player I’ve ever met, Michael [van Gerwen] being second. They just want to win everything.
“It is something I wish I had. I just go out there, play darts and sees what happens.”
The only regret for Anderson as the 2017 World Series got under way was the fact he’ll miss topping up his sun tan on Thursday afternoon. “It is always nice to get past the first round, but I’ll now miss some time at the pool,” he joked. “I’ll keep going and see what happens.
“To win any tournament, you’ve got to beat what is in front of you. Whether that is Peter [Wright], Michael [van Gerwen], Dave [Chisnall] it doesn’t matter – you’ve got to beat them all.”
Next opponent Wright’s lethal form continued as he made light work of Chisnall.
‘Snakebite’ powered to a 10-5 success, from which his opponent was rarely less than three legs in arrears. The 2014 Dubai runner-up will now fight to earn his shot at a ninth title of a trophy-laden year.
Wright said: “I wanted to play like that all the way through, but I didn’t. I fell asleep for a little while and then ‘Chizzy’ came back and I nearly let him in, but I dug it out.
“Conditions weren’t too bad really, it was okay. It was quite cool out there tonight, actually.”
World Series debutant Gerwyn Price was uncowed as ‘The Iceman’ kept his cool to edge a thriller against 2007 World Matchplay winner James Wade 10-9.
The 2017 UK Open runner-up critically broke to secure a deciding leg from 9-7 down, which he took with a double-six checkout. This battling triumph teed up a last-four clash tonight against three-time Dubai king Van Gerwen, who defeated fellow Dutchman Raymond van Barneveld 10-5.
“I felt I held my nerve towards the end,” said Welshman Price, who ended a rugby career three years ago to pursue darts. “I was behind most of the game after the first leg and I was just hoping to get the break back, hold your leg and just stay in front.
“I’m just looking forward to it [the semi-final]. I’m the underdog every time when I’m out here.
“There are eight players [in total] and seven world class, top players here. I’m the underdog so I just go out there and play my best game.”
Michael Van Gerwen is hoping to re-assert his dominance at the Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters on Thursday so he can win another trophy shaped like a coffee pot and serve his family tea.
The brilliant Dutchman won the first three Darts Masters titles in Dubai and was or course to complete the set before losing to Gary Anderson 11-9 in last year’s final.
‘Mighty Mike’ led 8-4 at one stage and looked on course for an unprecedented fourth straight success before the ‘Flying Scotsman’ swooped to claim a staggering victory.
And although he won’t feel too much like making a brew with the UAE temperatures soaring into the 40s in recent weeks, the recently-crowned 2017 Premier League Darts champion is keen to get his hands on another stunning ‘Dallah’ trophy.
“I have three of these trophies at home and hope to add another to the collection. I’ve got lots of nice tea cups,” said Van Gerwen, 28, of the Arabic-themed trophy.
“And I want more for the rest of the family so I can serve everyone tea.
“It’s always been great so far. Last year I messed up a little bit and lost the final to Gary but I can’t really complain. I always go quite well and I enjoy myself over here. That’s really important.
“I’ve got a tough draw against Raymond (Van Barneveld) but what can I do? I just have to play and prepare well and make sure I win.
“Against Barney I feel quite comfortable because it’s the third time I’m playing him here and I’ve never lost, so that will give me a huge advantage.
“But you still have to play well. You have to prepare well and if I do that I have a good chance. But there’s a lot of other good players who want to get their hands on the trophy as well so you need to be prepared.”
Anderson, meanwhile, starts his bid to retain his title against darts legend Phil Taylor, who retires at the end of the current season, on Wednesday, and knows he’ll probably have to beat Van Gerwen again if he is to defend his title.
“For three years Mike has been the best player in the world,” said Anderson, 46.
“He’s just come away from lifting the Premier League and everyone is gunning for him, it was nice to stop him last year but there’s no pressure now.
“Anyone of them players can lift the title, the game is getting so hard now, if you lift the title you’re lucky given the standard of players nowadays, so I’m just going to enjoy it.
“We’re all as good as each other and to win any tournament you have to beat who is in front of you. It doesn’t matter who it is, whether it’s Mike or Joe Bloggs, whoever it is you’ve got to beat them to go on to win any tournament.”
The darts title of the desert remains one of the few accolades 16-time world champion Taylor hasn’t won, and although the 56-year-old admits he’d love to lift it before calling it a day, he’s not putting any pressure on himself.
“I’ll have a go,” said the Englishman. “If I won it I’d be over the moon, but I’m not worried about it.
“There’s no pressure on me, if I win it, I win it, if I don’t, I don’t. I’ve won that many titles anyway so it isn’t going to make a difference, it’s just the money that’s a bonus really.”