Off-form Dean Winstanley happy with tough World Darts draw

Dean Winstanley

Dean Winstanley

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He may have endured his toughest year as a professional but Dean Winstanley is delighted to have been handed a tough opener at the World Darts Championship.

The Rotherham-born thrower begins his challenge at the Alexandra Palace tonight against Belgian ace Ronny Huybrechts.

Winstanley heads to London after a poor year of form on the PDC Tour which saw him miss every televised tournament but one in 2015.

He reached the last 16 in only two events during the year, the most recent of which came in March.

But he is determined to turn around his form when he steps on the sport’s biggest stage.

“I’m glad I got Ronny in respect of having a tough game rather than someone who has flown over from the Philipines,” Swinton’s world number 29 told The Star.

“I could have got a preliminary round qualifier who isn’t going to push me. I could easily lose in that scenario.

“The idea now is to try and smash everyone to prove a point.

“It’s a chance to turn round to everybody and say I’ve had a bad year but when it comes to TV, I’m going to do all right.

“I can tell everyone I’m still here, I’m not going anywhere and keep plodding on.”

Since switching from the BDO, Winstanley has enjoyed a modicum of success at the PDC World Championships.

Three years ago he hit a nine darter and he has managed a last 16 appearance.

The 34-year-old is looking forward to stepping back onto the Alexandra Palace stage and is aiming to hit the ground running against Huybrechts.

He said: “The crazy thing after this year is that I’m really looking forward to Tuesday night.

“It’s a tough game. Ronny is a good friend and we’ve had some really tough battles.

“I won my first every Major by beating him in the German Open final.

“We’ve played a lot of times against each other.

“We played a few weeks ago on the floor and I beat him 6-5 in a really good game.

“All I know is I need to take the first set.

“If I do that, I’ve got him. I’m out to punish him and put everything into the first set.”

Victory tonight would set up a second round tie with world number four Peter Wright on December 28.

And while many would have hoped to avoid the on-form Wright until the later rounds, Winstanley insists he would relish the challenge.

He said: “I’ve got a cracking record against Peter.

“He doesn’t like playing me so it will be against him rather than me.

“Even though I’ve had a rough year, I’ve still turned him over once.

“It’s just mad that when it comes to the big boys, I turn up to play darts.”

Winstanley’s clash with Huybrechts is the first of the evening session at 7pm.