Stage is set for Blackpool

Ronnie Baxter
Ronnie Baxter
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BLACKPOOL’S Ronnie Baxter faces a tough first-round tie against St Helens’ Dave Chisnall in darts’ Betfair World Matchplay in his home town, while Fleetwood’s Wes Newton has been drawn against Unicorn World Youth Champion James Hubbard at the Winter Gardens.

The draw for the Blackpool showpiece, which starts on Saturday week, was made after last night’s European Darts Open final in Germany, where the in-form Chisnall was runner-up.

Dutchman Raymond Van Barneveld took the title and the £15,000 first prize at the Maritim Hotel in Dusseldorf, beating Chisnall 6-4 in the final.

Professional Darts Corporation world no.5 Newton’s struggle to find form ahead of his home event continued in Germany, where he lost 6-4 to Mark Dudbridge in the second round following a bye in the first (Steve Maish withdrew).

Baxter defeated Devon Petersen 6-2 in the first round but was edged out 6-5 by eventual semi-finalist Mervyn King in the second after missing double top for the match.

King will face 13-time World Matchplay winner Phil Taylor in the first round at Blackpool, where the world no.1 will be targeting a fifth successive win in the £400,000 event. Last year’s runner-up James Wade will face Welshman Richie Burnett in the first round, while World Champion and second seed Adrian Lewis has drawn Speedy Services UK Open champion Robert Thornton.

The Dusseldorf event was the last qualifier for Blackpool, and teenager Hubbard sealed his place with a run to the quarter-finals which left him in tears of joy.

Baxter, the 1998 World Matchplay runner-up, had already secured his place among the 16 qualifiers taking to the oche alongside the PDC’s top 16 in Blackpool.

The order of play for the nine-day, Sky-televised event is expected to be confirmed tomorrow. Tickets are still available from the box-office on 0844 8561111 or by visiting

Betfair World Matchplay first round draw (seedings in brackets): Adrian Lewis (2) v Robert Thornton, Paul Nicholson (15) v Andy Smith, Raymond van Barneveld (7) v Michael Smith,l Terry Jenkins (10) v Kim Huybrechts, Simon Whitlock (6) v Michael van Gerwen, Kevin Painter (11) v Steve Beaton, James Wade (3) v Richie Burnett, Mark Walsh (14) v Colin Osborne, Phil Taylor (1) v Mervyn King, Vincent van der Voort (16) v Ian White, Andy Hamilton (8) v Brendan Dolan, Mark Webster (9) v Colin Lloyd, Wes Newton (5) v James Hubbard, Justin Pipe (12) v Joe Cullen, Gary Anderson (4) v Dean Winstanley, Dave Chisnall (13) v Ronnie Baxter