Darts: Raymond van Barneveld is back on the Alexandra Palace oche, and he believes he owes it to the fans to clear the air.
After a surprising defeat against Darin Young two years ago, the five-time world champion retired from the sport but returned in 2021.
On Monday night, he capped his comeback with a 3-0 win over Lourence Ilagan, putting the demons of the 2020 World Championship to rest.
“It’s an honour to be back. It was something I had forgotten about. I just had one aim in mind: to return to this place. So there you have it “‘he told Sky Sports.’
“My final game [against Darin Young] was abysmal, and I walked home thinking, ‘This isn’t going to be a good send-off.’ The audience has a right to expect more.’ I never expected to return because I was done with darts. Then, thanks to Covid, I was able to return. Then there’s this.”
The 54-year-old was encouraged by his performance, but he believes he can go even further: “I had a feeling Lourence would be a terrific player… However, the crowd was always on my side. Lourence seemed a little jittery as a result of this.
“Tonight, I didn’t bring my A-game. I can play considerably better than I have in the last few weeks. I was victorious, and that was the end of it.”
The Dutchman has a mouth-watering meeting with Rob Cross coming up next.
“Rob Cross is a nightmare to deal with! He’s not only a great darts player, but he’s also a great guy “he stated
“I’m really looking forward to this game. ‘Rob, he’s a European champion, he’s a former world champion,’ I thought when the draw was made. But I’ve won the global championship five times!
“I’m looking forward to Thursday night! Please tune in to Sky on Thursday night because we’re playing a huge game!”
Webster: A low-key victory was just what Barney needed
Mark Webster was impressed with the Dutchman as he reflected on the game in the Sky Sports studio.
“It was [the old Barney]. It was exactly what Barney required. In the final years of his career, he was surrounded by drama. That was a really low-key game. He dropped two legs, and it was a fantastic performance “said the former world champion from Lakeside.
“There was also a 121 [checkout] in the room. With a 97 average, he believes he can play better. That was an excellent performance, and exactly what he needed. He would have accepted such performance even before the game began.
“He appeared to be at ease. He appeared to be in fantastic shape up there. Ray is known for shaking his head, so it would have been intriguing to watch if he dropped that first leg. But no, that was an excellent performance. I was blown away.
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