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Grand Slam of Darts: Barney rolling back the years

They say form is temporary, class is permanent and never has that adage seemed more appropriate than at this week's Grand Slam of Darts where Raymond van Barneveld is rolling back the years in style.

Ten years after five-time world champ Barney won his one and only Grand Slam, beating Michael van Gerwen in an emotionally-charged final, the Dutch colossus is back - and back to his best.

The 55-year-old had to qualify for this year's event where he was installed a 200/1 no-hoper. Three group-stage wins later and Barney's in the last 16, cut to 50/1 and darts fans are asking whether or not the big Dutchman might just have one last, famous, unforgettable hurrah in him yet.

Barney believes ahead of Wizard test

WhatGrand Slam of Darts 2022
WhereAldersley Leisure Village, Wolverhampton
WhenSaturday 12th November - Sunday 20th November
How to watchSky Sports
OddsMichael van Gerwen 10/3, Gerwyn Price 4/1, Peter Wright 13/2, Michael Smith 8/1, Jonny Clayton 8/1, Luke Humphries 11/1, Dirk van Duijvenbode 11/1

It will be a clash of the old-timers when van Barneveld and Simon Whitlock toe the oche in the second round of the Grand Slam.

Barney, 55, and Whitlock, 53, first met in a major way back in 2005 in the International Darts League - the Aussie won that 6-5 - but it's four years since they last played each other on TV.

Both men are on the wane, World Cup winner Whitlock having dropped to 29 in the world while Barney is down at 50 as he tries to claw back ground following his flirtation with retirement.

Barney is 10/11 and the 2012 champion threw beautifully over the first three days of competition, beating Dave Chisnall, defending champion Gerwyn Price and then thumping Ted Evetts 5-0.

That saw him secure top spot in Group A with Whitlock finishing second behind Danny Noppert in Group B, though the Beard averaged nothing less than 97 in three decent efforts.

Price on fire despite almost crashing out

Three-time winner and defending champion Price has looked as good as anyone over the course of the group stage - yet was still almost knocked out.

The Iceman has produced three ton-plus averages but that wasn't good enough against Barney while Chisnall had two match darts against the Welshman in their winner-takes-all clash on Monday.

Chizzy missed both, Price stepped in and survived to set up a showdown with Noppert.

Price arrived in Wolverhampton in winning form and is 2/5 to beat Noppert, who showed his bottle by beating Whitlock 5-2 and a pair of last-leg shootouts with Christian Perez and Mensur Suljovic.

Perfect Smith now aims for knockout success

The other two second-round ties in the top half of the draw pit Michael Smith against Rob Cross and Dirk van Duijvenbode against Joe Cullen.

Smith is 8/13 to beat Cross and current form says he's hard to oppose though Voltage says he can't wait to get stuck into the longer format - round two is best-of-19 legs in contrast to the best-of-nine they have been bogged down in over the weekend.

Smith made it 16 straight group-stage wins by beating Ritchie Edhouse to win Group C, yet despite being a perennial qualifier for the knockout stages he has yet to reach the final.

As for Cullen, his record at the Grand Slam reads L-W-L-W-L-W-L-W-L-W, which sequentially at least means that next up is an L against Van Duijvenbode. If you fancy Cullen can buck that statistical trend then he's an 11/10 chance.

Clayton aiming for group-stage perfection

Groups E-H reach their conclusion on Tuesday night with three last-16 places already secured by van Gerwen, Luke Humphries and Jonny Clayton.

Of that trio, Clayton has also secured to spot in his section courtesy of a pair of 5-0 whitewashes of Leonard Gates and Jermaine Wattimena. He would dearly love to become the first man to complete a hat-trick of 5-0s against Damon Heta and is 18/1 to pull it off. One suspects the classy Aussie will provide a far sterner test, however.

The interesting group is E, headed by Wright who has won his first two matches, yet not assured of a place in the last 16.

To miss out the Scot would have to lose by two legs to Nathan Aspinall - it's 4/6 Snakebite, 6/5 The Asp - and Alan Soutar to beat Fallon Sherrock 5-1 or better.

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