Darts star Rob Cross to defend World Matchplay title behind closed doors

Darts star Rob Cross will defend his Betfred World Matchplay title behind closed doors at a different venue later this month.
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The Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) confirmed last Wednesday that the prestigious televised event will be played without fans present at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes from July 18-26.

It's the first time since being introduced in 1994 that the tournament - generally considered the second-biggest on the PDC calendar - will not be played at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.

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Rob Cross won the Betfred World Matchplay title last yearRob Cross won the Betfred World Matchplay title last year
Rob Cross won the Betfred World Matchplay title last year

PDC chief executive Matt Porter said: "This is an unprecedented step for us to take and this tough decision has been made only after exhausting all possible options in a bid to stage the Betfred World Matchplay with a limited crowd in Blackpool."

The World Matchplay will, nonetheless, be the first fully televised PDC competition to be held following the suspension of events due to the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic.

The draw will take place following the conclusion of the final PDC Summer Series event this Sunday (July 12).

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Cross is currently set to be the fourth seed in his bid to retain the Phil Taylor Trophy and will therefore be pitted against one of the 16 qualifiers from the one-year ProTour Order of Merit.

The 29-year-old clinched the title last year following an 18-13 victory over Michael Smith in the final, having staged an amazing comeback to defeat Daryl Gurney in the semi-finals.

Cross also won the European Championship in 2019, following on from his memorable 2018 World Championship triumph.


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