NATHAN ASPINALL admits his early Matchplay defeat was the “kick up the backside” he needed for the Premier League.
The former UK Open champion has been a rising star over the past two years and resumes the PL on Tuesday night in fourth place.
But the World No.6 has revealed his fear over losing the form that took him to a major title and two World Championship semi-finals.
Aspinall, who plays Gerwyn Price on Tuesday night, admitted: “Building up to the Summer Series I was so worried. I’ve kind of come from nowhere to being up there and playing the best stuff I’ve ever played in my life.
“But when I was practising I was awful, I don’t know where I pulled the PDC Home Tour win from.
“I’ve been really concerned that I’ve had my rise and then because of what’s happened that all of a sudden I start dropping down. Then I got battered first round in Matchplay from Dimitri!
“However the Matchplay was one of the most random tournaments ever with only one top eight player in the quarters. I think that proved to me it wasn’t just me.
“Truth be told I was playing absolutely horrendous. Going into the Summer Series I was bad. Because of lockdown my practice game was non-existent.
“I won the Home Tour which I was thankful for because if it wasn’t for that I wouldn’t have picked the darts up.
“It’s my own fault if I get beat because I’ve been lazy. I wasn’t really prepared for the Summer Series or the Matchplay which, again, is my fault. It was the kick up the backside I needed.
“But after the Matchplay I have been putting the hours in and working hard.
“I’m a guy that thrives off confident and adrenalin. In practice this week I hit a nine-darter against Lewis and the rest of the day I was frightening because it changed my mindset.
“As soon as Tuesday comes I’ll be trying so hard to get that win. Then I know I’ll be guaranteed to be in the next phase of the Premier League. Then the confidence I get from that early win hopefully I can go on to cause some serious damage.”
Aspinall crashed out of the World Matchplay at the first hurdle with a heavy defeat to eventual winner Dimitri van den Bergh.
Like his next Premier League opponent Price, he admits he struggles with the lack of fans.
He added: “It was a combination of everything really. It was the same for all 32 players but I just really struggled to adapt to the surroundings.
“Gezzy and me were the same, we love the crowd and adrenalin.
The louder the better. So I did struggle but Dimitri was the better player on the night.
“I thought about the bigger picture. I now know what the Premier League is going to be like and get prepared for that to kick off, hopefully how I left off in March.
“As soon as the Matchplay finished I was obviously disappointed. But that was just one tournament knockout. So it was done, out of my head.
“But for me I want to finish the Premier League strong and make that top four.
“I’ve been playing with a young lad called Lewis Williams and I’m practising really well. I felt like something clicked yesterday and luckily it’s now the Premier League. I found something that has changed my mind. Hopefully, I can take that game to Milton Keynes.
“If I can beat Gezzy on Tuesday night then I have concreted myself in the top four.”
Pix: Taylor Lanning