Zonneveld after superb start to Players Championship season: “That's what I have been lacking in recent years”
Niels Zonneveld returned satisfied to the Netherlands on Sunday after another successful weekend on the Pro Tour.
After four Players Championship tournaments, 'Triple Z', is in twelfth place in the Order of Merit. This puts him only one spot behind compatriot Michael van Gerwen.
“I think I can be very happy with my results of the last two weeks, so also last weekend. In the matches I lost I played very well'', says Zonneveld in an interview with Dartsnieuws, looking back on his strong performance.
On Saturday, Zonneveld managed to reach the last sixteen during Players Championship 3. Against both Andrew Gilding and Mario Vandenbogaerde he fell behind by a break, but the Dutchman managed to get through both games. He then defeated Dave Chisnall 6-4 after a strong match.
In the last sixteen Michael van Gerwen was too strong, 6-3. However, Zonneveld again played a strong match with an average of 100.61, while Van Gerwen played his best match of the weekend with an average of 107.40. This defeat did not ruin Zonneveld's mood.
“I was very positive very quickly. I also just played a good match against Michael. I also know that when he does what he can, I am not going to win the match. I want to get the best out of myself and I did that match. Then it's a pity he threw a super good game, there wasn't much I could do about it.''
Sunday Zonneveld got to the last 32 with wins over Keane Barry and Mervyn King, before Adam Gawlas won 6-0. “I missed two or three times one dart on tops and then you lose 6-0. Classy of him too, because I don't think there are very many players who have lost 6-0 with 103 average.''
Building on good start
Zonneveld earned 7,000 pounds during his first four Players Championship tournaments. Last year, that would already put him halfway to World Championship spot, but with the increase in prize money for the Pro Tour, the limit will be considerably higher this season. Nevertheless, Zonneveld has had a good start.
“That was one of my biggest goals this year, to have a good start. That's what I have been lacking in recent years. Last year I reached a quarterfinal in the first seven or eight tournaments, but lost in the first round in the others. Then you are immediately behind. Then I came up short at the end. Now I have the idea that I started well and hopefully I can hold on to it and continue down the line.
Keeping his PDC Tour Card is Zonneveld's big goal. His good start to the season comes in handy for that, as he needs to start qualifying for the big tournaments. ''If I don't make it to the World Darts Championship, I won't keep my Tour Card either. So that coincides a little bit. Then I hope I make it to the Players Championship Finals and the World Championship, and thus get into the top-64.''
Last year on the Development Tour
This weekend Zonneveld will play on the Development Tour, the youth circuit of the PDC. It will be his last year on the Development Tour, because Zonneveld will reach the maximum age of 24 in 2022. He doesn't regret it though.
After this year I think it's been enough. I've been able to do it for about five years and now play four years on the Pro Tour. At some point it should be finished.''
But that doesn't mean Zonneveld has nothing to play for on the Development Tour. There are some prizes (World Championship spots and Tour Cards) that are handed out, so in that respect it is still attractive. ”I do want to compete in the top of the ranking. Preferably you win the ranking, of course, but that will be very difficult. I really want to reach the top five," concludes Zonneveld.