Wade needs to banish World Championship woes

One of the biggest mysteries in darts is why James Wade, for all his success in other tournaments, has never reached the final of the World Championship.

For a few years now, ‘The Machine’ has been the man most likely to take advantage when Phil Taylor has bowed out in the early rounds of an event and has racked up half a dozen major titles.

But a CV that includes two World Grand Prix, two UK Opens, a World Matchplay and a Premier League crown lacks anything better than a semi-final in the sport’s most prestigious competition.

The reasons are not obvious. It is certainly not down to a shortage of class or stamina and it is unlikely that the sets format at Alexandra Palace is a contributory factor.

Perhaps concentration over the course of a long match could be an issue, but whatever the explanation for Wade’s comparatively poor record it is time he put it right in 2012.

There have been some valid excuses in the past. In 2008, the man from Aldershot was suffering from flu when he lost in the quarter-finals to eventual champion John Part. A year later, a semi-final defeat to Raymond van Barneveld was no disgrace and in 2010, Wade came out on the wrong side of one of the finest matches in the sport’s history, a spellbinding quarter-final against Simon Whitlock.

At first it appeared there was little in the way of mitigation for last year’s second-round loss to Mensur Suljovic even though the Austrian is an awkward opponent who has a knack of unsettling whoever he faces on stage, albeit probably not deliberately.

Wade had the experience to deal with that situation. Yet it came at a time when he was struggling badly with clinical depression and bi-polar disorder which prompted him to spend a month in rehab.

Now the 28-year-old is believed to be much happier in his personal life. And that means there is every reason to think he should have a real crack at becoming world champion this year.

His opening 3-1 victory against Petri Korte, a Finn with the strangest throwing action you have ever seen – he obscures his face with the hand holding his darts while he throws – was unconvincing.

But a sterner test will surely see the former mechanic raise his game and Jelle Klaasen should provide that in round two, though it must be said Wade looks to have a very favourable draw up to a possible quarter-final with Kevin Painter.

Talking of ‘The Artist’, he built on his recent Players Championship Finals triumph when coming through a difficult opener against world under-21 champion Arron Monk.

It was a match in which Painter was a shade flattered by his 3-1 margin of victory as set five could have gone either way and Monk arguably deserved to take it to a decider.

There seems to be a renewed sense of confidence about Painter though, and the man who pushed Taylor all the way in their thrilling 2004 showdown could be set for another good run.

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