THROWBACK VIDEO: Nathan Aspinall wipes the floor with Jonny Clayton and wins the 2023 World Matchplay

Next weekend the 31st edition of the World Matchplay gets underway. Nathan Aspinall will try to defend his title from last year in Blackpool.

'The Asp' impressed last year by beating successively Krzysztof Ratajski (10-7), Danny Noppert (11-9), Chris Dobey (16-12) and Joe Cullen (17-9) on his way to the final. There he faced Jonny Clayton, who in turn had defeated former winner Dimitri van den Bergh and Luke Humphries, among others, to reach the final.

In the final, Aspinall went into the first break with a 3-2 lead after Clayton missed three break chances in the fifth leg. 'The Asp' broke his Welsh opponent in the sixth leg with a finish of 108, but Clayton came back strong with a 141 check-out and a 12-darter to level the score to 4-4.

Aspinall then threw another 108 check-out, but Clayton answered with a 101 finish, once again tying the score at the second break. The third session eventually proved crucial, as Aspinall won five legs in a row partly through an 11-darter and a 12-darter to run out to a 10-5 lead. After the break, Aspinall continued to increase his lead. He managed to throw out finishes of 170 and 115 to bring the score to 13-5, effectively giving him the scent of victory.

He extended his lead to 14-5 after Clayton lost two chances in the nineteenth leg and Aspinall hit tops to win the leg. Clayton also had chances to win the 20th but missed twice on double 16. Aspinall took advantage and reached 15-5 via double 8.

In the 22nd leg, Clayton finally managed to get back on the board via a 16-darter, making it 16-6. Aspinall immediately replied with a 16-darter, putting him just one leg away from the title. Clayton had five more chances to extend the match, but failed to capitalize on them. Aspinall then hit his sixth matchdart via double 5 to crown himself the winner of the World Matchplay for the first time in his career.

'The Asp' will face his compatriot Luke Woodhouse in the first round next Saturday night in the last match of the evening. Should he advance to the second round, a showdown against the winner of the match between Danny Noppert and James Wade awaits him there.

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