The quarter finals of the World Matchplay get underway inside the Winter Gardens in Blackpool on Thursday evening when the two matches in the top half of the draw are played out to setup one of the two semi-finals over the weekend.
We are up to the best of 31 legs for these matches which should allow the players involved to settle in and relax a little and produce the sort of top quality that we want to see in the latter stages of an event of this kind.
Joe Cullen vs Daryl Gurney
The opening quarter final of the tournament sees two men who have a TV title on their CV battling for a place in another major semi-final when Joe Cullen takes on Daryl Gurney for a place in the final four.
Both these men have taken care of a former world champion this week. Cullen saw off Gerwyn Price in the previous round while Gurney has dumped out Rob Cross and Gary Anderson and looked particularly good in dispatching of the latter. In fact, should Gurney play in this match like he did in that one then Cullen is going to have his work cut out to beat him. Cullen will hang tough here though and I suspect we will get a close match where a missed double at the wrong time might prove to be the difference as the pressure mounts. I guess the fact his TV title and latter stage appearances in majors have been the more recent of the two you would have to make Cullen a favourite here but I certainly don’t want to oppose the Gurney we have seen so far this week. I’ll sit this first match out.
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Chris Dobey vs Nathan Aspinall
The pick of the quarter finals on Thursday evening is the second match of the night where two Premier League players meet when The Masters champion Chris Dobey takes on the nearly man of the last 15 months or so in Nathan Aspinall.
Dobey has been on a crest of a wave in 2023 having won The Masters to effectively qualify him for the Premier League and now he has taken out a former winner here in James Wade and the world champion Michael Smith for a shot at this quarter final, and based on recent TV success could be considered the favourite to reach the final from the top half of the draw. Aspinall knows all about reaching TV finals though and he’ll be confident of taking a step closer to another with a win here having already dumped out solid campaigners in Krzysztof Ratajski and Danny Noppert The interesting thing is the key to the Aspinall success this week has been his scoring. He has hit eight 180s in both of his matches but his finishing has been a little sketchy. Dobey didn’t score great at all in his win over Smith but his finishing was near perfect and that will give him a lot of confidence because it is rare that he doesn’t score well so with the confidence that he can hit doubles under pressure in legs behind him, he will know that if his scoring comes to the party he is going to be very tough to beat. I’m a little surprised you can get the sort of prices you can on a Dobey win here but I’m happy to get involved.
Back C.Dobey to beat N.Aspinall for a 3/10 stake at 2.20 with Spreadex