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Huntly’s John Henderson has high hopes as he starts new season

John Henderson will be in action at the PDC Super Series over the next four days
John Henderson will be in action at the PDC Super Series over the next four days

John Henderson is aiming to get his season off to a flying start.

The Huntly darts ace begins his 2021 campaign in Bolton today at the PDC Super Series, which consists of four Players Championship tournaments over the next four days.

Next weekend the Highlander will be playing in the UK Open and, after a frustrating 2020 which saw him slip to 40 in the world rankings, Henderson is hoping to rediscover his best form this year.

The 47-year-old said: “Hopefully I can make a good start to the season and there’s the UK Open next week, so it’s a good chance to make a good start.

“I think it’s important to make a good start. If you go through this first series and come away with nothing, it puts the pressure on when it comes to trying to make the TV events.

“A good start is really important and that’s why I’ve been battering the board probably more than I’ve ever done to try to get that good start.

“It’s an important year for me, because I’ve fallen down the rankings. I’m 40 in the world and this time last year I was something like 21.

“Covid had an impact and I didn’t cope well after being away from match board for a few months.”

Matchplay ambitions

Henderson’s first big target for 2021 is to qualify for July’s World Matchplay after missing out on the prestigious event last year.

To achieve that goal, he’ll need to get into the top 32 on the one-year PDC Pro Tour order of merit, which means good results are required in the Players Championship tournaments early in the season.

Henderson added: “It’s a big year and I’m defending World Matchplay money on the two-year ranking list, so if I was to miss out on that it would drop me down the rankings again.

“I don’t want to miss out on that, my head’s in the right place and I feel I can play well and get a good start this week.

John Henderson in action the last time he qualified for the World Matchplay in 2019.

“The World Matchplay is the hardest one to qualify for, because it’s earliest in the year and if you reach that it means you’ve had a good start.

“If you can get to the matchplay, it probably guarantees you a place at the World Championship as well.

“Then after that you’re looking at things like the World Grand Prix, Players Championship finals, Grand Slam, European Championships.

“But the World Matchplay and the World Championship are always the targets at the start of the year.”

Small changes

Henderson’s last competitive action was the World Championship in December, where he lost in the second round to Jonny Clayton.

Since then he’s been practising hard and trying to make some minor adjustments to his throw.

He said: “I’ve battered the board again to get ready for these events.

“The changes I’m trying to make are pretty minute and you don’t really know whether they will work until you get on the match board and the pressure comes on.

“I have quite a few nine-darters in recent weeks in practice. If I could take that form on to the match board I should do some damage.

“I’m looking forward to it and I’m confident.”

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