Michael van Gerwen vows he can “handle the pressure” of being BetVictor World Matchplay favourite

Van Gerwen claimed the title back-to-back in 2015 and 2016 (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

Mighty Michael van Gerwen vows that he can “handle the pressure” of always being the biggest oche target.

The mean, green, winning machine starts his bid for a hat-trick of BetVictor World Matchplay titles on Saturday night against Jeffrey de Zwaan.

His fellow Dutchman produced one of the biggest shocks of the year by dumping MVG out of the UK Open back in March.

But MVG has his sights set on revenge and admitted: "Of course, Phil Taylor did well there in the past, but times change.

"I can't afford to think about the players of the past because I have to deal with the players who are around now.

"You can't stand still and think about the past, you have to move forward and try to win the tournament.

"I've had the pressure of being the best player on my shoulders for a few years now but I can handle it."

The Dutchman is poised for a tough test against emerging star de Zwaan, who is making his Winter Gardens debut, but is adamant there will not be a repeat of the UK Open shocker.

He added: "I know it will not be an easy game. There are so many good players on the circuit now and you have to make sure you play well and don't make any mistakes.

"I will be huge favourite to win the game even though he beat me in the UK Open.

"Maybe he will be a bit nervous with it being his first time in Blackpool and I'm confident I will get the win."

Apart from that UK Open blip, the world number one has dominated so far this season, claiming victory at The Masters, Premier League and World Cup in addition to six ProTour and six European Tour titles.

MVG will making his tenth appearance at the Winter Gardens, having finished runner-up in 2014 before claiming back-to-back victories in 2015 and 2016.

He added: "The World Matchplay is one of the biggest tournaments of the year. The venue is phenomenal and there is always a great crowd in who get behind me every year.

"I need to do my job again this year and not make any mistakes, but I think the format suits my game.

"To win any trophy is nice but this is a huge tournament and it would be really special to win it for a third time."

Van Gerwen is priced 4/6 favourite with title sponsors BetVictor to win the 2018 World Matchplay.


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