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World Darts Championship: Day nine preview

The World Darts Championship breaks up for Christmas on Friday with an action-packed card starring former champion Rob Cross and major winners Jonny Clayton and Joe Cullen.

The eight matches on Friday bring the curtain down on round two with the last 32 returning after Christmas to kick off round three.

What: World Darts Championship 
When: December 15 – January 3, 2023 
Where: Alexandra Palace, London 
How to watch: Sky Sports 
Odds (To Win Outright): Michael van Gerwen 9/4, Michael Smith 5/1, Gerwyn Price 6/1, Peter Wright 10/1, Josh Rock 10/1, Luke Humphries 16/1, Jonny Clayton 20/1

Cross in for a scrap with super-confident Williams

Scott Williams produced one of the performances of the first round during a 3-1 win over Ryan Joyce and that could spell danger for former champion Rob Cross.

Williams' outright odds were slashed to 125/1 from 500/1 after he produced a ton-plus average against Joyce featuring 10 180s and a 56 per cent checkout rate.

It was impressive stuff from 'Shaggy', a winner on tour this year, and likely to attract a bit of interest at 7/4 in the Match Winner market against Voltage.

That said, Cross is also in serious form with close friend Williams confirming that the 2018 champion is playing as well as ever.

Cross, a 4/9 Match Winner chance, has won twice on tour in 2022 and reached several finals, most recently at the Players Championship Finals, where he twice produced averages over 100.

Premier League aces ready to show their class

The Friday night action is capped by the appearances of first Jonny Clayton, then Joe Cullen, the Premier League duo looking for the type of runs at Ally Pally which will get them invited back into that lucrative competition next year.

Clayton, a former Premier League winner, is 1/7 in Match Winner market to take care of Danny van Trijp, the man who beat Steve Beaton in round one.

Van Trijp threw okay against the Adonis, though he'll need to improve on his 87 average if he is to come close to landing Match Winner odds of 9/2 against Clayton.

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Cullen will also be confident against Ricky Evans, who made hard work of seeing off Fallon Sherrock in his opener. Rapid Ricky is a 3/1 Match Winner shot and has lost each of his last six tussles with Rockstar.

Will it be Unlucky D for 180 hitter Smith?

Ross Smith's stock is on the rise in 2022 and at 1/5 in Match Winner to see off Darius Labanauskas, he's expected to be coming back after Christmas.

The highlight of Smith's year was landing the European Championship in October and he did it in style, beating Cullen, Dimitri van den Bergh, Peter Wright and Michael Smith to land his first major title.

A few weeks later he was beating Michael van Gerwen at the Grand Slam, just the latest box ticked as he prepares for a showdown with Lucky D, Labanauskas. 

He lived up to his nickname in the first round against John O'Shea, coming from 2-0 down to John O'Shea before sneaking over the line.

He's another one who is going to have to up his game to bother the higher-ranked players and he knows he is also going to have to absorb some heavy hitting from Smith. 

The Englishman is 5/6 to land Over 5.5 180s and bear in mind no player on tour has hit more maximums than him over the second half of the season.

Lukeman looking to land the odds

One outsider who may well attract some interest on the Friday card is Martin Lukeman, who is 11/8 against Martin Schindler in Match Winner.

The German, seeded 29, has his moments but not often enough and certainly not at the Palace, where his previous three visits have all yielded first-round exits.

It has been a great year for Lukeman, who reached round four of the UK Open in March – losing 10-9 to Clayton – and a few weeks later beat Schindler en route to the final of the German Grand Prix.

The Watford ace is flying up the rankings and even though this is his debut at the Palace, he's won more matches here than Schindler having whitewashed Nobuhiro Yamamoto in his opener.

There is a fair swathe of money riding on Danny Noppert this year, certainly in quarter betting, so the To Win Outright 33/1 shot will be hoping to make a statement by making light work of seniors star David Cameron.

The Canadian World Seniors Masters champ is a 9/2 outsider against 'Noppie' in Match Winner, though the way he came from 2-0 down to beat Ritchie Edhouse 3-2 in round one suggests he'll be no pushover.

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