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SIMON WHITLOCK heads to Blackpool looking to continue the form that has seen him return to the elite of world darts.

‘The Wizard’ had suffered a couple of years struggling for form, which saw him drop out of the world’s top 16, but bounced back towards the end of 2016 and his rise has continued.

His status as one of the best players on the planet was reaffirmed when he reached the final of the World Grand Prix last year, helping to earn him re-selection for the Premier League.

That brilliant run in Dublin sits along side previous runs to the final of the World Championship, Premier League and, of course, his major victory at the European Championship in 2012.

Whitlock takes on Richard North in round one at the BetVictor World Matchplay, where he has twice reached the semi-finals – but the Australian number one has greater ambitions this time around.

“I believe I can win the tournament,” said the world number seven.

“I’m confident that I’ve got the game and I’m feeling better than I’ve ever felt in my career. It will be a tough start against Richard North. I know what he is capable of but I know what everyone is capable of and I will need to be at my best but I’m there to win it.”

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