What's gone wrong with two-time World Champion Adrian Lewis?
Keith Deller who managed Lewis at the time promised in 2017 that within two years, he would be back at the top. Just over three years later, he is needing a big year to even stay in the top 32.
In 2017, Lewis began to have back problems and had to have surgery to correct it.
"The muscle had penetrated through to the skin. They had to go up through the anal canal and stitch it all up at the top just underneath my spine. It was painful," said Lewis to Daily Star.
“The pain first emerged a couple of months before. I was having 40 minutes sleep a night, that is how bad it was."
“The muscle was contracting and it was going into spasms. It could have been anything."
He believed though that he would only get better after it was done but this didn't happen. “I have become more determined since my operation. I took the previous years for granted.
“My form is coming up really good. I have been putting in a lot of work since coming back.”
Like alluded to this didn't happen as he lost to Kevin Munch in a shock defeat at the World Championship. During the World Championship though in 2019 and 2020, he attempted to arrest his slide as he reached the last 16 against Michael van Gerwen and Dimitri van den Bergh respectively.
At the World Matchplay also defeats came in the last 16 (2018) and last 32 (2019).
A much fresher Lewis came into the PDC Series events after lockdown with 'Jackpot' having shed the pounds but this did not mean immediate success and it has been duly noted that his throw isn't as natural as previously with it being more robotic and languid.
2021 PDC World Championship
Like alluded to, Lewis lost a lot of weight during lockdown and set his stall out early ahead of the World Championship.
"I've got expectations," said Lewis. "I want to maintain my form and then try to climb up as high as I can coming into the World Championship.
"It's all about confidence. I've always said that 95% is in your head because if your head's not right you don't seem to perform. Little things can deter you from your full 100% performance. It is a mental game and you've got to be in the right place mentally.
"I'm trying to start again really, forget all the scars you've had over the years by getting beaten and put everything to the back of your mind and focus on what's upcoming really."
The two-time World Champion showed a glimmer at the Winter Series reaching a semi-final and quarter-final after a poor three days. This included victory over Michael van Gerwen for the first time since 2017.
But his form changeable as ever saw him lose at the Players Championship Finals before a 3-1 defeat to Danny Baggish at the World Championship with him stating that the lack of crowd was an issue.
The Masters begins on January 29 and with him falling into the final place despite not being a ranked event, it will be a potential way for Lewis to get himself into form also with the lack of pressure that comes with ranking events. A pivotal year for Lewis as he aims to recapture his form of old and who can bet against the Stoke-on-Trent thrower doing just that.