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Darts: John Henderson eager to make the most of World Championship chance

John Henderson is determined to have a good run at the PDC World Championship
John Henderson is determined to have a good run at the PDC World Championship

After fearing missing out on the PDC World Championship John Henderson is determined to make the most of his chance in the tournament.

The Huntly thrower starts his campaign tonight at the Alexandra Palace with a first round match against Marko Kantele.

Disappointing results meant Henderson almost missed out on qualification, he was the last player on the Pro Tour Order or Merit to make the cut for World Championship following November’s Winter Series of five Players Championship events.

As a result the Highlander is desperate get past Kantele and set up a second round clash with Jonny Clayton.

He said: “I remember going into the last day in the Winter Series and because of the poor results I’d thought I might end up missing out on the World Championship.

“So being here is a bonus and I need to try to grab that chance.

“There’s no such thing as an easy draw and it will be a difficult game against Marko, but hopefully I can take this opportunity to have a good run.

John Henderson will take to the Alexandra Palace stage tonight

“I’ve made it to the last 16 before (2018) but it would be my best World Championships if I could get a through a few rounds this time after the year I’ve had.

“It would mean everything to have a good run because I didn’t expect to be here.

“You can talk about all the tournaments; Pro Tours, World Matchplay, World Grand Prix – but this is the one everybody wants to win.

“Everybody remembers every world champion and every single darts player is desperate to do well and it would mean the world to me if I could do well.

“I feel as if I shouldn’t be here so if I could beat Marko I’d be delighted after coming close to not qualifying.

“I’m not looking beyond that at the moment but if I could get further I’d be ecstatic.”

Confidence returning

During 2020 Henderson has been on the wrong end of a number of tight scorelines which has dented confidence.

However, having racked up the hours on the practice board and achieved good results in the PDC’s Home Tour, which included winning a group last week, his confidence is boosted ahead of tonight’s game.

The 47-year-old added: “I’ve been battering the practice board and playing in the Home Tour as well and I think my work has showed in the Home Tour because in the last two groups I’ve played I’ve been second and top.

“So that gives me a little boost going into the World Championships and hopefully I can take that confidence into this tournament.

“Confidence and self-belief is massive in this sport because when you’re on the stage there’s nobody to help you.

“And if you can’t believe in yourself or you’re not confident then you won’t play well.

“This year my form has been that great and I’ve lost a lot of close matches and last leg deciders, but in the last couple of Home Tours that hasn’t been the case and I think I’ve got the killer instinct back.”

Could history repeat itself?

Henderson faced Kantele in the first round of the World Championship three years ago and won 3-0 and he’s keen to make sure the Finn doesn’t get revenge on this occasion.

He said: “I’ve got a hard game in Marko, I beat him three years ago in the World Championships but he’s improved since then and he’s qualified again so his game seems to be going in the right direction.

“I haven’t had the greatest of years but I feel like my form is coming back and hopefully I can get through.

“If I could have a decent run it would be a big thing in terms of the ranking and trying to get back towards the top-32 and it would set me up nicely for 2021.

“If you crash and burn in the first round you stew over it during Christmas and January and it’s still in the back of your mind when things restart in February.

“So that’s all I’m thinking about is trying to get through the first round and then I’ll take it from there.”

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