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Four major champions headline thrilling Friday at Grand Slam

World Cup partners Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton will renew their rivalry for a place in the Grand Slam semi-finals

World Cup partners Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton will renew their rivalry for a place in the Grand Slam semi-finals

The business end of the Grand Slam of Darts is upon us, and the drama continues with two blockbuster quarter-final ties on Friday evening, featuring four players who have all won major titles over the last 12 months.

World Cup partners Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton renew their rivalry in Friday’s headline act, as the world champion goes head-to-head against the reigning Premier League champion.

Top seed Price is vying for a third Grand Slam crown in four years, while Clayton – arguably the form man in world darts right now – is in pursuit of a fifth major title in 2021.

In the opening match of the night, three-time finalist James Wade takes on newly crowned European Champion Rob Cross for the second time at this year’s event.

‘The Machine’ ran out a 5-2 winner over Cross to advance from Group C in dramatic fashion, and the UK Open champion will be aiming to repeat the feat, albeit over an elongated format.

It promises to be a spectacular night in Wolverhampton, but who will hold their nerve to keep their Grand Slam hopes alive?

Grand Slam of Darts Quarter-Finals

FridayJames Wade (4) vs Rob Cross
Gerwyn Price (1) vs Jonny Clayton
SaturdayMichael van Gerwen (3) vs Michael Smith
Peter Wright (2) vs Fallon Sherrock

Live Grand Slam of Darts

November 19, 2021, 7:00pm

Live on Sky Sports Arena

Wade hopes lightning strikes twice against ‘Voltage’

Wade fired in a sublime 111.71 average in his Group C win over Cross - his highest televised average to date

Wade fired in a sublime 111.71 average in his Group C win over Cross – his highest televised average to date

Wade’s defeat to Jim Williams in his Group C opener left him precariously placed, but he bounced back with victory over Boris Krcmar, before firing in his highest televised average of 111.71 to close out the victory he required against Cross.

The world No 4 produced a merciless display to dispatch Rowby-John Rodriguez in his last-16 tussle, averaging 98 and converting 67 per cent of his double attempts to secure a place in his fifth Grand Slam quarter-final.

Wade vs Cross: Route to the QFs

James WadeRob Cross
4-5 vs Jim Williams (C)5-0 vs Boris Krcmar (C)
5-2 vs Boris Krcmar (C)5-3 vs Jim Williams (C)
5-2 vs Rob Cross (C)2-5 vs James Wade (C)
10-2 vs Rowby-John Rodriguez (L16)10-4 vs Ryan Joyce (L16)

However, he is up against a man brimming with confidence in the shape of Cross, who is featuring in his first Grand Slam quarter-final since reaching the last eight on debut in 2017.

The former world champion whitewashed Krcmar in his opener before battling past Williams, and despite losing out to an inspired Wade in his final Group C tie, he stormed through to the quarters with a dominant 10-4 win over Ryan Joyce, averaging 102 in the process.

Head-to-Head Record

James Wade revealed he was in 'agony' after booking his last-eight spot with victory over Rowby-John Rodriguez

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James Wade revealed he was in ‘agony’ after booking his last-eight spot with victory over Rowby-John Rodriguez

James Wade revealed he was in ‘agony’ after booking his last-eight spot with victory over Rowby-John Rodriguez

There is nothing to separate the pair in terms of their head-to-head record, with both men claiming nine wins apiece from their 18 meetings.

Cross has won six of their nine televised meetings, although Wade will be buoyed by his group-stage win over ‘Voltage’, having also defeated the four-time major winner en route to his UK Open triumph in March.

James Wade vs Rob Cross – Head-to-Head

WadeCross
World Ranking:411
Individual major titles:104
Head-to-Head record:99
TV head-to-head:36
2021 titles:12
GSOD best:RU (2010, 16, 20)QFs (2017, 2021)

The 11-time major winner has endured a slump in form since lifting the UK Open title, but he appears to have a renewed intensity this week, and given his consistency, he will be a tough proposition to dislodge over a best-of-31-legs format.

However, Cross has been a player transformed since his European Championship triumph – he boasts a tournament average of 99.3, and he’s starting to rediscover the type of form that catapulted him to World Championship glory.

Mark Webster’s Verdict

Rob Cross breezed into the Grand Slam quarter-finals with a convincing win over Ryan Joyce

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Rob Cross breezed into the Grand Slam quarter-finals with a convincing win over Ryan Joyce

Rob Cross breezed into the Grand Slam quarter-finals with a convincing win over Ryan Joyce

“Fair play to Rob Cross. Winning the European [Championship] title is one thing; winning it when you’re defending the money from two years ago is another thing.

“He was under massive pressure to stay at the top echelons of the sport, so credit to him, and James Wade – he wins an event and then goes in a bit of a lull, but he needs that sometimes to give him a kick up the backside.

“It’s a great tie between two players who suit each other. I think James will win, but I think it will be a very close game, because neither player will go away in a darts match.”

Who will prevail in battle of the Welsh wizards?

Clayton produced a scintillating display to thrash Price 5-1 in last month's World Grand Prix showpiece

Clayton produced a scintillating display to thrash Price 5-1 in last month’s World Grand Prix showpiece

The formidable ‘Ferret’ is the only player with a 100 per cent record this week, following up wins over Rusty-Jake Rodriguez, Bradley Brooks and Mervyn King in Group B with an imperious 104.3 average in a 10-2 drubbing of young Nathan Rafferty.

Clayton has already scooped four major titles in 2021 and he’s produced championship-winning form at the Aldersley Leisure Village. The 47-year-old has posted three ton-plus averages in four games, firing in a mere 99.4 in his 5-4 win over King in his Group B decider.

Price vs Clayton: Route to the QFs

Gerwyn PriceJonny Clayton
5-4 vs Nathan Rafferty (A)5-3 vs Rusty-Jake Rodriguez (B)
5-0 vs Krzysztof Ratajski (A)5-3 vs Bradley Brooks (B)
4-5 vs Martin Schindler (A)5-4 vs Mervyn King (B)
10-8 vs Bradley Brooks (L16)10-2 vs Nathan Rafferty (L16)

In comparison, with the exception of a dominant whitewash win over Krzysztof Ratajski, Price has been unconvincing throughout. He survived a match dart in his opener against Rafferty, before succumbing to Martin Schindler in his final Group A clash.

The world No 1 became embroiled in a real scrap against World Youth champion Bradley Brooks in the last 16, and although ‘The Iceman’ eventually kept his cool, he will need to make a marked improvement to contend with Clayton.

Head-to-Head Record

Gerwyn Price admitted nerves got the better of him during his hard-fought win over Bradley Brooks

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Gerwyn Price admitted nerves got the better of him during his hard-fought win over Bradley Brooks

Gerwyn Price admitted nerves got the better of him during his hard-fought win over Bradley Brooks

Price has prevailed in 11 of his 18 encounters against his World Cup partner, yet Clayton holds the edge in the televised arena, winning four of those seven tussles.

Prior to their clash in October’s World Grand Prix final, Price had claimed eight successive victories over Clayton – prompting questions about the mentality of ‘The Ferret’ against his compatriot.

Gerwyn Price vs Jonny Clayton – Head-to-Head

PriceClayton
World Ranking:18
Individual major titles:54
Head-to-Head record:117
TV head-to-head:34
2021 titles:46
GSOD Best:Winner (2018, 19)QFs (2018, 2021)

Clayton has since recorded back-to-back wins over the world champion, following up a 5-1 demolition of ‘The Iceman’ in a thrilling Grand Prix final with a stunning comeback victory at the World Series Finals, where he recovered from 7-2 adrift to triumph.

‘The Ferret’ is bidding to make it a hat-trick of televised wins over the world No 1 in the space of a month, yet Price boasts a magnificent record at this venue, and he will be desperate to silence the critics with a virtuoso performance.

Mark Webster’s Verdict

Jonny Clayton will face Gerwyn Price in the quarter-final of the Grand Slam of Darts and Clayton is feeling confident

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Jonny Clayton will face Gerwyn Price in the quarter-final of the Grand Slam of Darts and Clayton is feeling confident

Jonny Clayton will face Gerwyn Price in the quarter-final of the Grand Slam of Darts and Clayton is feeling confident

“Gerwyn needs to forget ‘Jonny Clayton – the Welsh team-mate’. He is his opponent on Friday and it is a selfish man’s game. He needs to find that form and aggression, but he’s still in this event and he has more gears to go through.

“I am going to go for Jonny, based on what I’ve seen so far. I wouldn’t be surprised if Gerwyn wins; he’s the world champion, but for a lot of people I think Jonny probably starts favourite.

“He has been better than Gezzy, he’s won the last two TV titles, so it’s hard to look beyond Jonny, but he’s going to crack at some point. Is it tonight?”

Coverage of the Grand Slam of Darts continues on Friday night with the first two quarter-finals – joins us from 7pm on Sky Sports Arena before Fallon Sherrock returns on Saturday night from 7pm on Sky Sports Mix