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Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Simon Whitlock may not waltz past Martin Schindler

Michael Smith against Steve Lennon promises 180s

Simon Whitlock lets one fly
1 of 1

Sky Sports Darts, 7pm Wednesday

Simon Whitlock, twice a beaten world finalist, begins his quest to go one better on Wednesday night against talented young German Martin Schindler in round one of the William Hill World Championship.

Bookmakers are enjoying rich pickings at Alexandra Palace with a glut of favourites getting chinned over the opening few days of competition and they’ll be hoping that at least one of Whitlock, Michael Smith and Justin Pipe gets turned over.

Xiao Chen Zong v Bernie Smith
Head-to-head: No previous meetings
It’s a case of who can hold it together better when teenage student Xiao Chen Zong locks horns with Kiwi plasterer Bernie Smith in a battle of the first-timers.

Smith has tried for years to make a world championship - Xiao has tried twice and made it courtesy of romping through Chinese qualifiers.

Xiao played James Wade in the Shanghai Masters in July, averaging 67 despite getting only two darts at a double. That’s clearly a factor in why he’s a 9-2 shot. Having said that, Smith’s confession that he’s a bundle of nerves and won’t know how he’ll react to playing at the Palace hardly fills you with faith in the favourite.

This will probably be scrappy and Justin Pipe will doubtless be chuffed to bits that he plays the winner.

Michael Smith v Steve Lennon
H2H: No previous meetings
Michael Smith has won at least two matches in each of the last four worlds, yet there’s something about Bully Boy which makes you feel every game he’s going to play will be a battle.

And that certainly looks the case against Steve Lennon, one of a crop of decent young Irish darters endeavouring to make a mark.

Smith goes off 2-5 and there’s no disputing the price. He has pedigree but his form in 2017 has been patchy at best.

Lennon boasts the tidiest of chucks and will hit his scores. There hasn’t been a real 180-fest yet but if these two go at it – and this has the makings of a four-setter at the very least – the maximums could go through the ceiling.

Over 8.5 180s
1pt Evs BoyleSports

Simon Whitlock v Martin Schindler
H2H: No previous meetings
Martin Schindler is fast becoming Germany’s number one and has shown enough form to suggest he can run Simon Whitlock close.

The Wizard, twice a finalist and beaten in the final of the Grand Prix a couple of months back, can be anything and Schindler won’t be fazed taking on the Australian.

Over 16.5 legs
1pt 5-6 Betfred

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There hasn't been a real 180-fest yet but if these two go at it – and this has the makings of a four-setter at least – the maximums could spiral
E.W. Terms
Sky bet