Michael van Gerwen has proved himself the Dubai master over the years, winning three straight titles and producing some incredible darts in the process.
The Dutchman clearly has the secret to success here and says he feels the pressure lifting as soon as he jets in.
“I feel really relaxed in Dubai,” he tells Time Out. “I really like it, the weather’s always great and it’s quite a special event because everyone wants to play. It’s not like playing in Wigan or somewhere, it’s
a bit more special, especially because it’s only once a year. I feel confident.
I always play well there and I always get great support.”
The 27-year-old says he revels in the unique atmosphere of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium – the PDC Tour’s only outdoor venue. “It’s the same conditions for all of us,” he says. “It does affect me, but you need to prepare yourself properly, like a tennis player switching from clay to grass. You get used to the conditions and I can’t really complain.”
In last year’s final against Phil Taylor, van Gerwen had to overcome a deficit in the final session to clinch a memorable victory. However, he admits that he thrives on the pressure of having to play do-or-die darts. “I always find that when I’m a little bit behind in a game, I always come back and win,” he says. “That was always in my mind against Phil and you always need to believe in yourself, right down to when the last dart is thrown. Never give up, because if you give up, you might as well have stayed at home.”
And with the unique eight-man format of the Masters, there is nowhere to hide, especially from an in-form van Gerwen who has a message for his rivals. “They are all good players so you can’t afford any mistakes because they will punish you hard. But I believe I can do some really big damage again. No one’s going to touch me over there – Dubai’s my title.”