Gerwyn Price believes he deserves more respect from the darting public after he was subjected to a hostile reception from the Winter Gardens crowd during his dominant victory over Jonny Clayton at the World Matchplay.
Price produced a clinical display to dispatch his World Cup partner – reeling off eight consecutive legs to wrap up a comprehensive 11-3 success and reach the quarter-finals for the first time since his debut in 2015.
It was almost a perfect performance, but having received a mixed reception in his opener against Jermaine Wattimena, the world champion was greeted by a chorus of boos from the 2,000 capacity crowd in attendance at the Empress Ballroom.
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Price soon silenced the crowd with his unrelenting brilliance, yet the jeers resurfaced during his post-match interview on stage.
“That is what spurs me on. You can boo me all you want, but I just play better and better week in, week out,” Price told Sky Sports.
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“I know sometimes it is pantomime boos, but still, it makes me play a little bit better. A little bit of respect now and again would be good.
“Jonny is a fantastic player, a great friend. It is really difficult to come up here and play against someone like Jonny, knowing how well he has been playing over the last couple of months.
“It is even tougher with the crowd on your back, but that is what has made me the player I am over the last two years, so I applaud them really,” he added.
Price was imposed with the tag of darts’ pantomime villain following his infamous Grand Slam success against Gary Anderson in 2018, although just prior to lockdown, relations between ‘The Iceman’ and the fans appeared to have thawed.
The Welshman now boasts six televised titles on his extensive résumé and although he believes the crowd respect his achievements, he admits the constant barrage can take its toll.
“I’m not worried about Peter, I’m not worried about Michael. I am worried about myself. Talk is cheap; you have just got to do it on the board.”
Price has a message for his title rivals…
“It is tough enough playing the best players in the world, but to have the crowd on your back as well is extra pressure, but I seem to be dealing with it alright,” he told reporters post-match.
“I think they do respect what I have done, but it’s a bit more pantomime – they are doing it for a little bit of fun. Sometimes it is not funny!”
Price will now take on defending champion Dimitri Van den Bergh in a last-eight tussle on Thursday evening, as he bids to reach his first Matchplay semi-final at the seventh attempt.
‘The Dream Maker’ delivered a record-breaking display to defeat Dave Chisnall 11-8 to maintain his title defence, crashing in 14 maximums and posting a 103.68 average – the highest of the event so far.
This year’s showpiece has been touted as one of the most unpredictable since its inception, yet world No 2 Peter Wright claimed he was going to complete a World Championship and World Matchplay double ahead of the tournament.
Price is undeterred by Snakebite’s bullish boasts, and he sent out a clear message to his title rivals by reaffirming he has ‘a lot more in the tank’.
“Peter (Wright) is playing rubbish. He is going to win the Worlds; he’s going to win this. He has won nothing really, he’s won a couple of Pro Tours,” he continued.
“I’m not worried about Peter, I’m not worried about Michael (van Gerwen). I am worried about myself. Talk is cheap; you have just got to do it on the board.”
The manner of Price’s victory over Premier League champion Clayton impressed three-time world champion John Part – a finalist at the Winter Gardens back in 2005.
Despite his lack of recent big-stage action, the world No 1 has relinquished just seven legs in advancing to the quarter-finals, and Part insisted he is the man to beat.
“I think that it just tells us that Gerwyn Price – he is ready to compete. He is making pressure shots, he was hitting tops very well; he was hitting everything very well,” Part reflected.
“It was a tough draw certainly for Price, but something now which serves him well going forward.
“He is thinking now: ‘Yeah, this tournament is mine’, inside. He won’t say it because he has got enough problems here, but he’s thinking it!
“After that display, absolutely [he is] the man to beat. He took the highest-quality player of 2021 and basically made him look silly. He absolutely shut him down.”
Darts is back on your Sky Sports screens with live coverage of the World Matchplay from the iconic Winter Gardens running all the way through until Sunday, July 25. Check out daily Darts news on skysports.com/darts, our app for mobile devices and our Twitter account @skysportsdarts
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