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Wizard to Cast Spell on Alexandra Palace

Simon ‘The Wizard’ Whitlock returns to the scene of his greatest achievement as he looks to go one better in this year’s PDC World Championship at Alexandra Palace.

The Wizard burst onto the PDC scene with a brilliant run to the final of last year’s World Championships beating James Wade, Raymond van Barneveld and Terry Jenkins in some epic encounters. Tonight he returns to the Ally Pally stage to take on Steve Evans in the first round.

Evans is making only his second appearance at the World Championships – he was knocked out in the first round in 2008 by Steve Beaton – and is very inexperienced on the main stage. His only other TV tournament appearances have been in the early rounds of the UK Open.

His recent floor form hasn’t been much to shout about and there is good reason that Whitlock is as short as 1/20 with the bookmakers to win this one. A 3-0 whitewash for the Aussie can also be backed at odds of 4/7.

Another player being considered as a genuine contender for the title this year is Gary Anderson. The Scot took a bit of time to settle into his game since moving over from the BDO but looks to be comfortable on stage now and if he can stay consistent on his doubles he’ll be a match for anyone over the next few weeks.

His first round opponent will be the winner of the Matt Padget versus Morihiro Hashimoto preliminary match. Neither should cause Anderson any problems if he plays his own game.

Also in action this Saturday evening is the 2005 PDC World Championship runner-up Mark ‘Flash’ Dudbridge. The 37-year-old has struggled to reach that same level of form that he showed on his way to that final and looks vulnerable here against fellow Englishman Alex Roy.

The bookmakers have Dudbridge as the 4/6 favourite but it is just 5/4 that Roy will upset the seeded player and send him packing before Christmas.

With Phil Taylor putting in a below-par performance on Thursday night both Whitlock and Anderson can lay down their marker for a world title challenge this evening.

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