Colin Lloyd believes the ability and experience of Deta Hedman and Lisa Ashton will make them dangerous first-round opponents at the World Darts Championship this year.
For the third year in succession, two women will take to the stage at Alexandra Palace, and they have a tough act to follow after Fallon Sherrock’s history-making run to the third round last year.
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Ashton came out on top at the Women’s Series in September to book a second appearance in three years at the tournament, while Hedman edged out Sherrock by virtue of legs won to join Ashton.
It means a first appearance at the PDC World Championship for 60-year-old Hedman, who will become the second oldest debutant in the event’s history and the sixth woman to feature in the event.
Sherrock made headlines last year when she beat Ted Evetts in the first round, before stunning Mensur Suljovic in the second round, becoming the first woman to beat a man at the World Darts Championship.
Lloyd believes Ashton, who has been a regular on the Pro Tour this year, and Hedman, have what it takes to emulate Sherrock’s success.
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“Lisa and Deta have played on the big stage so I don’t think they will be expecting anything they haven’t seen before,” Lloyd said.
“They have played in the biggest ladies events in the world and Lisa has had the class to be able to play in a good few of the men’s events now.
“Playing in front of a crowd, playing in front of the cameras that certainly won’t daunt them, they have miles of experience behind them and I think they will want to play well and play the way they know they can.
“Having done the hard work to get there at the Women’s Series they won’t be put off about who they play and it will be interesting to see who they draw, because if Deta and Lisa play how they can they are going to be very, very dangerous.”
Both players, along with the rest of the 96 players will find out their fate when the draw takes place on Thursday morning, live on Sky Sports News.
The pair will be among the 64 qualifiers and international representatives who enter at the first round stage and will feature as balls number 33-64 who will be drawn to face the top 32 names from the Pro Tour Order of Merit who had not already qualified for the event.
World No 1 Michael van Gerwen, defending champion Peter Wright and world no 3 Gerwyn Price headline the list of 32 seeds who will enter at the second-round stage for a tournament that promises to be one of the most open in memory.
PDC World Darts Championship – Seeded players (ball numbers)
Eight of the 10 televised tournaments have seen a new name lift the trophy, while Van Gerwen, Wright and Price have all added to their major tally this year and Lloyd believes it makes for a fascinating tournament.
“It is going to be utter madness at this year’s World Championships,” the former world no 1 added.
“If you start with MVG he has had an off-year in his eyes and he has won two majors – he is playing well again and he has another couple of weeks to see if he is going to be able to continue that.
“Peter had one bad game last week at the Players but he is the defending champion and with that comes some extra pressure, but he has won the European Championships, The Masters and a good few other events on the Pro Tour.
“Price is a World Cup winner, the World Grand Prix champions and the World Series of Darts Finals winner – he may be feeling a bit tired but he has a chance now to rest and recuperate and build-up to the Worlds.
“But that is just the top three and we can also throw into the mix Gary Anderson, James Wade and Michael Smith, the World Matchplay champion Dimitri Van den Bergh, the Premier League champion Glen Durrant and Jose De Sousa the recently crowned Grand Slam [of Darts] champion.”
You won’t miss a dart this Christmas thanks to the dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel which returns from December 15 until January 4 for every session from the World Darts Championship
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