Darts: Van Barneveld fears failure in pressure game

Raymond Van Barneveld has revealed a possible weakness to opponents at the British Darts Organisation World Championship at Frimley Green - make him think and he could crumble.

The top seed and three-time former title holder is odds-on favourite to add to his 1998, 1999 and 2003 successes and he breezed into the semi-finals with a 5-0 win over compatriot Vincent van der Voort on Thursday.

Van Barneveld has yet to drop a set in the tournament but the 37-year-old from The Hague freely admits that when he comes under pressure he begins to struggle mentally.

"When I stay concentrated and play my own game, then you see what happens - magnificent finishes like the 170 that won the quarter-final," said Van Barneveld. "If I keep my focus I can beat anyone, but when I have to think about it and the crowd get behind the other player then I start missing doubles.

"That's what happened against Andy Fordham in the semi-finals last year. I was 3-0 up but if you let me think about it, I have a problem.

"I was broken mentally, and if it happens again on Saturday or Sunday then it will be very hard for me."

In order to reach Sunday's final, Van Barneveld must overcome fifth seed Darryl Fitton, who also achieved a quarter-final whitewash against the Scottish qualifier Robert Thornton.

"Darryl is a great player and the semi-final will be something else," added Van Barneveld. "We will both have a large section of the crowd supporting us and it's hard to beat a British player here."

Fitton was also a victim of Fordham, 12 months ago in the quarter-finals, and said he has been itching ever since to go at least one stage further. Or more appropriately "One Step Beyond", the Madness tune to which the 42-year-old walks out on stage wearing sunglasses.

Rather than being encouraged by Van Barneveld's vulnerability under pressure, Fitton insists he will not concern himself with what is going on in his opponent's head. "I'll just play my own game," said the former British Open champion. "I'm not worried about Raymond. He is a world-class player who I enjoy watching practice and I think he is fantastic, a credit to the game."

Comments