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World Matchplay final preview: Jonny Clayton fancied to finish the job

Nathan Aspinall and Jonny Clayton meet in the final of the World Matchplay in Blackpool, with the latter looking to land his fifth major title, while the 'Asp' goes in search of his second.

Clayton needed to hit 61 per cent of his doubles to come from 10-7 behind and beat Luke Humphries 17-15 in his semi-final, while Stockport-born Aspinall eased past a below-par Joe Cullen 17-9.

Aspinall has lost his last three televised finals, failing to add to the UK Open title he won back in 2019, while Clayton has won his last four finals, as well as claiming the World Cup of Darts for Wales - alongside Gerwyn Price - earlier this year.

WhatNathan Aspinall v Jonny Clayton
WhereWinter Gardens, Blackpool
When20:15, Sunday 23rd July 2023
How to watchSky Sports Action & Main Event
OddsNathan Aspinall 11/10, Jonny Clayton 8/11

Clayton stays cool under pressure

Clayton claimed the highest average of the four semi-finalists as he managed 98.92 in his tense tussle with Humphries, but it remains to be seen just how much that has taken out of 'The Ferret', especially as that was the second match played on Saturday evening.

The Welshman accepted that he had been pushed close to the limit by Englishman Humphries, as he told reporters: "I had to dig deep, but you've got to take your chances, and that's what I did."

Seventh seed Clayton had earlier seen off Gabriel Clemens, Dimitri Van den Bergh and Ryan Searle on his way to the semi-finals, with an average of 101.90 against Van den Bergh, his most impressive showing.

He has won his last four major finals, all of which came in his golden season of 2021, when he took the honours at The Masters, the Premier League, the World Grand Prix and the World Series of Darts Finals.

This season, he has been a quarter-finalist at the World Championship and The Masters, as well as reaching the semi-finals of the Premier League and winning the World Cup as a partner to Price.

Clayton is 8/11 to win the Blackpool final on Sunday evening and is 11/1 to win by a scoreline of 18-14, 18-15 or 18-16.

Aspinall keen to show his bite

Aspinall cashed in on semi-final opponent Cullen struggling massively with his doubles on Saturday evening, with the Yorkshireman missing 28 darts at a double during his 17-9 defeat.

'The Asp' averaged 95.26 as he saw off Cullen, his lowest of the tournament so far - having averaged 98 or 99 as he defeated Krzysztof Ratajski, Danny Noppert and Chris Dobey on his way to the last four.

Aspinall is desperate to get over the line at a major and double his tally, having surprisingly not yet added to the UK Open crown he claimed in 2019 by beating compatriot Rob Cross 11-5 in the final.

Since then, he has suffered a Premier League final reverse at the hands of Glen Durrant, lost out to Michael van Gerwen in the World Grand Prix final and gone down 16-5 to world champion Michael Smith in the Grand Slam of Darts finale.

The latter two of those losses came last year to show that Aspinall is still knocking at the door, although this season, his best ranking event showing was a quarter-final run at the UK Open.

Aspinall, who is 12/1 to defeat Clayton 18-15, is eager to make up for those losses, bullishly commenting after beating Cullen: "I have lost my last three (televised) finals. I'm not going to do it again."

Recent meetings favour the 'Ferret'

Clayton has won four of his last five meetings with Aspinall, although it is the Englishman who came out on top when the two players last faced off on the oche.

That clash came on the final night of the regular Premier League season, with Aspinall dominating in a 6-1 win in the quarter-finals in Aberdeen, although a loss to Price in the next round saw Clayton edge the final spot for Finals Night.

Previously, Clayton had claimed a 6-4 win in Dublin and a 6-4 success in Birmingham, with the Welsh darter claiming Night victories in both Berlin and Birmingham, while Aspinall went all the way in Rotterdam.

The overall head-to-head record between the two players is nearly dead-level, and another close encounter looks almost guaranteed at the Winter Gardens on Sunday evening.

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