“I’ve played there before when it’s been really hot, and it’s gruelling. It might help me that I’ve played there before but we’ll see”
JAMES WADE believes that the World Matchplay will be “gruelling” in the sweltering Winter Gardens.
The former champ takes on rank outsider Martin Lukeman on Sunday in Blackpool, which could be the hottest day on record in the UK.
Wade, 39, is wary of the potential furnace under the TV lights as he bids to win the title again 15 years after his first success.
He said: “I’m conscious of how hot it might be but hopefully it’s not as hot as I think it’s going to be.
“I’ve played there before when it’s been really hot, and it’s gruelling. It might help me that I’ve played there before but we’ll see.
“I’d say that all the bigger players are tired, but it’s part of the job. It’s been gruelling and we’ve had to do that to catch up and look after the people who look after us with sponsorship and tournament agreements.
“I understand why we’ve had to do that, but you can see that the players who have been doing a lot are quite tired, but it’s part of the job.
“That’s part of being one of the top players, you try and get to be one of the top players so you can get yourself into those tournaments, so that’s part of it.
“It’s mentally hard work, and that’s quite tiring for me personally.”
Wade won the title in 2007, beating Terry Jenkins 18-7 in the final, and admits that this Matchplay means more to him than ever before.
He added: “I can’t believe it’s 15 years since I won in Blackpool. It’s a long time but it doesn’t feel like it!
“To win it any year, it would be special but it’s probably one that annoys me that I’ve not won for a while. I really want to win another World Matchplay.
“I want to win every tournament I play in, but this one means a little bit more to me. It’s always meant more to me, I don’t know if it’s because it was the first TV tournament I won, or I just like the venue.
“It is my favourite venue, definitely. The first time I played there in 2006 was amazing and it was the first big stage there I got to the final.
“There’s something there and I still can’t put my finger on it, but something is a bit special for me.
“There are so many different little factors that it could be, or it could be the fact that it is my favourite tournament.
“I do like it there and that’s why it hurts even more when I don’t perform well there because it’s got everything there for me to perform well for – but it’s also a joy when I do play well.”
Wade also admits he knows very little about World No.67 Watford-born qualifier Lukeman.
He added: “I try and avoid knowing who I’m playing until I get to a venue, and I’ve got no interest in the draw.
“There’s no point looking at the draw because you don’t know if you’re going to win. It doesn’t matter anyway, because if I play my darts, I know I win.
“If I don’t play my darts, I can still grind out a win but it becomes more stressful and hard work. If I can throw some straight darts, I’ll be alright and if I can’t it’s going to be hard work!”
By Phil Lanning