Wizard aims to make most of fine form

Simon Whitlock. Picture: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Simon Whitlock. Picture: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
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Simon Whitlock will take on number-12 seed Kevin Painter in the second round of the World Matchplay tournament in Blackpool.

The Wizard is looking to better the semi-final performance he achieved in 2010 and believes he is in the form to do so.

‘I couldn’t be happier at the moment,’ said the Australian, who now lives in Waterlooville.

‘My form is good, I’m recording good averages and getting the right results a lot of the time.

‘The venue and the crowds are always first-class at Blackpool, so it should be a brilliant week.’

Whitlock, the number-five seed, held off a fightback from Jelle Klaasen in the first round to secure a 10-8 victory.

Klaasen battled back from 8-3 down to trail 9-7, before the Australian produced a timely 12-darter to book his second-round place.

The pair shared the first six legs, before Whitlock hit two 11-darters and three 180s in a five-leg burst to take command of the contest.

After Klaasen hit back with successive legs, Whitlock hit double 16 to move a leg away from the win at 9-5.

The Dutchman, though, landed a 180 as he refused to lie down – before taking out 158 and 118 to reduce the gap to two legs.

But Whitlock scored 177 and 180 in a 12-darter as he finally secured his last-16 spot.

‘I thought I played really well and got a good result there,’ he said.

‘I was getting a bit shaky towards the end but Jelle took out two big finishes there and played really well.

‘I’ve played really well for the last month or so and I believe this is my chance to win this tournament.

‘There are no easy games but I’m feeling great and am quite relaxed.’

Victory over Painter will earn Whitlock a place in the quarter-final against the winner of the match between James Wade and Gary Anderson.