Fallon Sherrock is aiming to defend her Women’s World Matchplay title on Sunday, but Beau Greaves is considered the favorite after dominating the Women’s Series.
Sherrock secured victory in last year’s inaugural event by defeating Aileen de Graaf and will be one of the main attractions in this year’s Winter Gardens showpiece, which will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Action starting at 1pm.
The tournament, with a prize pool of £25,000, features eight top players competing at the Empress Ballroom.
Greaves, the teenage sensation, has been making waves in the PDC Women’s Series circuit, winning 15 out of 20 events held in the past year.
However, Sherrock is feeling confident as she heads to Blackpool after winning a Women’s Series title in Germany last month, ending a year-long wait.
“I’m thrilled to be returning to Blackpool,” Sherrock revealed. “I feel like my game is slowly improving, and I’m eager to showcase my skills once again.
“At the end of last year, I didn’t feel my game was up to par, but I’ve put in the effort and practice to get back on track.
“I had a nine-darter recently on the Challenge Tour, and I feel that my game has been improving since Q-School. It just needed a few adjustments.
“I’ve been playing more competitive darts and practicing more before this tournament, so hopefully, it pays off!”
Sherrock’s title defense begins with an exciting match against four-time women’s world champion Lisa Ashton, who is the sixth seed in this year’s tournament.
If Sherrock progresses to the semi-finals, she will face either Mikuru Suzuki, the Japanese trailblazer, or last year’s runner-up Aileen de Graaf. The winner of this match could potentially face top-seeded Greaves in the final for the £10,000 top prize.
“Talk about throwing me into the deep end!” Sherrock jokingly said, emphasizing that she considers pressure a privilege rather than a burden.
“As I go to Blackpool, I know that nobody expects me to win because all eyes are on Beau.
“I aim to fly under the radar once again, and there is much less expectation this time.
“However, I do prefer tougher matches because they push me to showcase my best game and handle pressure effectively.
“Playing against top players is what I strive for because it highlights my capabilities and resilience.”
Greaves, who became the Lakeside world champion at the age of 18, describes her journey as “mad” and believes she has excelled since then.
“It’s been amazing. I feel incredibly fortunate to have a great life, and I’m grateful for that,” she expressed.
“The women’s event feels different from Ally Pally. At Ally Pally, I didn’t feel like I had a chance at all. Although I didn’t play exceptionally well, I still enjoyed it. However, it takes time to adjust. In the women’s game, we’re not used to playing on such a big stage, and we don’t get many opportunities.
“The women’s Matchplay is a significant advantage for us, and it’s challenging to predict when we’ll have another chance to play. The fact that it’s here is a big relief for all of us, considering we’re not accustomed to being on TV frequently.
“If I perform well, I know I’ll be tough to beat. However, if everyone else is playing well, they’ll be tough to beat too.”
Greaves is hoping to display the exceptional form that enabled her to dominate the Women’s Series, while Sherrock is favored to emerge from her half of the draw.
Greaves will kick off the tournament in the opening match against Dutch debutant Noa-Lynn van Leuven.
“If Fallon and I were to make it to the final and both play our best, it would be fantastic,” Greaves said. “We have had some great matches in the past. We are both capable players, although we might not always perform at our peak in women’s darts. Some games can be challenging, while others can be outstanding.
“While reaching the final is my goal, anything can happen in darts. That’s the beauty of the sport.”
In the other quarter-final clash, fourth seed Robyn Byrne will face Welsh star Rhian O’Sullivan.
The semi-finals and final will take place later in the afternoon, and the winner will secure a spot in November’s Grand Slam of Darts and the 2023/24 World Darts Championship.
2023 Women’s World Matchplay
Sunday July 23 (1300 BST)
Beau Greaves vs Noa-Lynn van Leuven
Robyn Byrne vs Rhian O’Sullivan
Mikuru Suzuki vs Aileen de Graaf
Fallon Sherrock vs Lisa Ashton
Best of 7 legs
Greaves/Van Leuven vs Byrne/O’Sullivan
Suzuki/De Graaf vs Sherrock/Ashton
Best of 9 legs
Best of 11 legs
We’re back for the Women’s World Matchplay live on Sky Sports Action from 1pm at the iconic Winter Gardens on Sunday before the last two men battle it out for the Phil Taylor Trophy – live on Sky Sports Action from 8pm. Stream the Women’s World Matchplay and more with NOW for £21 a month