Coverage of the World Grand Prix continues on Thursday night as the second round gets under way – watch live from 7pm on Sky Sports Arena
By Paul Prenderville at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry
Last Updated: 08/10/20 11:40am
Dimitri Van den Bergh is the oldest of four darting siblings, and it was the youngest who put his recent World Matchplay triumph into perspective.
“My brother said, ‘If they call Dimitri up to the stage now, the back-to-back World Youth champion and the reigning World Matchplay champion…. Dad, it is getting really long now! It is going to take a lot of time before he is on the stage.”
Van den Bergh is settling into life as the World Matchplay champion, and has his sights set on more major glory as the seeds continue to fall at the World Grand Prix.
‘The Dreammaker’ was in brilliant form to send world No 4 Michael Smith packing. It is one of several shocks in the first round, but as a major champion the Belgian’s performance can hardly be described as an upset.
He is up to a career-high 11 in the world rankings on the back of his success in Milton Keynes, where he triumphed as an unseeded player, and he arrived in Coventry with plenty of belief.
“I have showed myself that I am capable, the run that I have done and who I won against to become the World Matchplay champion of this year,” he said.
“It gives me so many points of courage to never doubt my own ability, because I have shown that I can.
“I was nervous on Tuesday – nervous the whole day – until I had to play, because then business is going down and it has to happen and it did and I’m very happy with that – so proud as well.”
Ironically the crowd-pleasing Belgian has thrived in the crowdless environments of sport in the UK.
The 26-year-old has one of the most popular walk-ons in darts, showcasing his moves to Pharrell Williams’ ‘Happy’ on his arrival to the stage. However, with no fans the party-going nature of a night at the darts has been stymied and for Van den Bergh, his moves have been put on hold too.
He has been playing in a knee brace after dislocating his knee not long after his Matchplay triumph – it does not affect his game, but it has stopped his dancing.
World Grand Prix – Thursday’s second round matches
|Dimitri Van den Bergh vs Dirk van Duijvenbode|
|Mervyn King vs Simon Whitlock|
|Gary Anderson v Danny Noppert|
|Michael van Gerwen v Devon Petersen|
|best of five sets|
Live World Grand Prix Darts
October 8, 2020, 7:00pm
“People are already saying ‘What are you going to do now? What kind of walk-on dance are you going to do now?’. I said, ‘What do you think about breakdance?’.
“I’ve got an injury on my leg from three years ago and it hasn’t been as strong as I thought it would have been, I dislocated it by going down the stairs.
“It is unfortunate but I know that I need to be very careful. It doesn’t hurt but I’ve got to wear it because it can pop out at any time and the brace keeps it into place and it doesn’t happen.
“I’ve got one more surgery to go, so as soon as I’ve got that surgery done it’s going to be walking around with that for maybe four weeks, then I will be fine. Until the surgery and the four weeks after that, I’ve got to be wearing that the whole time.”
Another big televised title could be just four wins away. Dirk van Duijvenbode is up next, a Dutchman emerging on the circuit and first-round conqueror of another big name in Mensur Suljovic.
But Van den Bergh is not getting ahead of himself and while Van Duijvenbode might not be known to many, he is to the Belgian.
“I didn’t even think about who is through and who isn’t, I am here to do my business, my job and focus on myself.
“I know Dirk can play, I have known him for a long time. He has even been in the same management as me.
“I never underestimate anybody, so I just take it as it comes and give my 100 per cent.”
There is room for improvement too, Van den Bergh is desperate to improve his form on the Pro Tour, especially over the next two years when there will be more ranking money to defend.
As a player he shows remarkable poise at the moment he needs it most, and sat opposite him in the lobby at the Ricoh Arena, there is a determination from Van den Bergh that suggests he is going to be a hard man to stop.
“I definitely want to get stronger on the floor tournaments. I don’t have a title on the floor tournaments yet, but I think as soon as I start to win one there they will be rattling in because I will also find my way there how to do it.
“I think I have shown out of that win that I’ve got a lot of confidence and I gained a lot of confidence and more self-belief.
“It doesn’t matter if I’m under pressure or not, it doesn’t matter what kind of situation I am in, as long as I keep believing in myself I can overcome anything. I’ve always dreamed to be part of the top and by taking my time, slowly I’m finally getting there.
The Dreammaker has been making his dreams come true for three years now, but for now the focus is on the job at hand, and maybe making that introduction even longer.
Darts is back on to Sky Sports throughout October with the World Grand Prix and the Premier League Play-Offs. Follow us @SkySportsDarts to stay up to date with all the news.