Expectant Simon Whitlock believes he can emulate the proudest moment of his darting career and reach the World Championship final this Christmas.

Simon WhitlockThe 44-year-old Australian is building up to the biggest tournament on the darting calendar, with the traditional festive period sporting feast getting underway at Alexandra Palace on Friday.

Whitlock, who is sponsored by leading paint manufacturer Leyland Paints, has a fine record at the World Championships, reaching the final in 2010 as well as enjoying runs to the quarter-finals and semi-finals in two of the three years since.

And he is confident of another memorable Christmas performance on the sport’s biggest stage.

“There is nothing like the World Championships and I can’t wait to get up on that stage again,” said Whitlock, who is seeded four.

“It’s the biggest and best tournament of the year and the spotlight is really on everyone in the field.

“I’ve had one or two disappointments recently but my form over the year as a whole has been very good and I’m feeling confident.

“I feel as though I’m playing well enough to have another long run and hopefully reach the final like 2010.

“I might have lost to Phil Taylor but it’s still the proudest night of my darting life and hopefully I can repeat it.”

Whitlock begins his quest for glory at Alexandra Palace on Tuesday, December 17 when he takes on Ross Smith in the final match of the night.

The pair met at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall in last month’s Grand Slam of Darts with Whitlock running out a 5-2 winner.

But ‘the Wizard of Oz’ accepts that result will mean nothing when the pair renew their rivalry.

“Ross is a good young player and this is a totally different game,” added Whitlock.

Welsh darts star Mark Webster (also sponsored by Leyland Paints) is confident his recent resurgence will continue when he takes to the oche in the World Championships.

The Denbigh left hander has had a testing 18 months as he has battled to reproduce the form which saw him become BDO world champion in 2008.

But there were encouraging signs at last month’s Grand Slam of Darts when Webster qualified from his group and beat world number eight  Wes Newton in the process.

Now Webster is hoping for an extended run on the biggest stage of them all at Alexandra Palace.

“The World Championships are always very special and I’m really looking forward to it,” said the 29-year-old.

“It’s been a bit of a struggle over the last couple of years but I’m working hard and it feels as though my form is coming back.

“The Grand Slam was a nice boost and it’s given me confidence and hopefully I can continue that at the World Championships.

“I’ve played in the Worlds a few times but you always get that extra buzz from being involved. There is no other tournament like it.”

Webster has a long wait for his first action in the tournament which begins on Friday, with his first round tie against Austrian Mensur Suljovic scheduled for Thursday, December 19.

But Webster is determined not to have his Christmas ruined by a defeat.

“I have to win two matches to still be in the tournament after Christmas and that’s the first priority,” he added.

“There is nothing worse to be out and watching at home and it does ruin your Christmas.

“I will practice on Christmas Day and may be even driving back to the venue if I’m still in the tournament and that’s something I will gladly do if it means I’ve reached the third round.”

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