INTERVIEW – Jeffrey de Graaf: ‘It’s time for me to win the first round’

At the PDC World Championships of 2019, a total of 13 Dutch players will join, including Jeffrey de Graaf. De Graaf will participate in his second World Championship. Darts Actueel spoke the Dutchman before the World Championship. 

2018
Jeffrey de Graaf, born on 21 November 1990, has qualified for the PDC World Championship for the second time, through the Pro Tour Order of Merit. De Graaf started out the season very bad, but due to some good results later in the year he qualified for the Worlds. My year started to get rough, with a bad start. For the first time in the 3 years I was at the PDC, I didn’t qualify for the UK Open. Afterwards it continued with bad results with an outlier. I played from nowhere a strong tournament where I did everything at the right moments and therefore also came to my first semi-final. Then it went a little worse with me. I had been with a mental coach for a few days and helped me well. After that, the results were getting better and so I finally managed to place for the Worlds.”

As read, the Dutchman didn’t qualify for the UK Open, De Graaf was able to qualify for the Players Championship Finals this year. De Graaf was 46th on the Players Championship Order of Merit. “Because I reached the semi-finals at a Players Championship tournament I came across the top 32. I ended up 46th, although I’d rather have been in the top 32. Something to try to improve next year even though the level is pretty high at the PDC, yet you have to set goals for yourself.”

Tourcard
de Graaf started his career in 2011 in the BDO. In 2016, De Graaf attempted Q-School and managed to pick up a toucard for the PDC circuit on day 3. After three years of having a tourcard, he is in danger to lose his tourcard this year, he stands 62nd of the world where the top 64 of the rankings retains the tourcard. How does De Graaf look at it: “When I play a good World Championship I don’t have to worry about my tourcard, because then I just keep it. Ofcourse I have seen that only 2 players get one round further than me, then I come to spot 64 and the one that sits underneath must win two or more matches. I am not so worried yet.”

“My first year went well and in my private life everything went well too. After my first World Championship, things happened where my head wasn’t quite at the darts. However, I have been better then my first year, so I think it will be even better next year. My second year at the PDC was dramatically in my eyes. I don’t think I need to worry about it next year. I can only improve”, the 28-year-old Dutchman told about his career at the PDC.

So there is a chance that the Dutchman will lose his tourcard, if that happens will he going to Q-School next year? “I’m not sure about that yet. As a player between place 45 and 64, you won’t earn enough money to life at the PDC. Since I am a lot away from home, I don’t know whether I want to continue to do the whole tour for a minimum income. But I am assuming that I will go to Q-school because I also have a contract with my management until 2020.”

Dutch Darts Championship
This year, for the first time in the Netherlands, two Euro Tour tournaments were played in the Netherlands, including the Dutch Darts Championship in Maastricht. Jeffrey de Graaf managed to qualify for that Euro Tour. Surprisingly, he was the only Dutchman who managed to reach the finalsday. At the last 16 De Graaf was defeated by Kyle Anderson with 6-1. “To come out as the best Dutchman is nice for a little time, but not so much changed. However, it is ofcourse fantastic to remain the only Dutchman, because you will have the whole crowd behind you. It gives you a huge kick, yet a pity that I then immediately failed against Kyle Anderson.”

World Championship 2019
De Graaf made his debut at the World Championships of 2017, where he lost to Jelle Klaasen in the first round. What has the Dutchman learned from his debut in ‘Ally Pally’? “I learned that I had to be more constant in the scoring and that if I got the chance to get him too. So I can’t miss any doubles at crucial moments.”

This year, De Graaf will compete in the first round against the number 3 of the Asian Tour, Noel Malicdem. How does the Dutchman see his chances? “That’s difficult to say, as I don’t know him at all.” The only thing I know about him is that he can throw a 9-darter. For my feeling I can win against everyone and so I give myself a good chance.”

“I have a simple goal for my eyes this year. This will be my sixth World Championship in 7 years time. Personally, I think it is time that I survive that first round. Ofcourse that goal is possible. That’s because I can win against everyone, although I have to be aware that I have to give some opponents something more when I’m used to and maybe need some luck.”

Finally, the darts player from Schagen also has a title favourite and outsider for the upcoming World Championship. “The favorite for the title is Michael van Gerwen ofcourse, but I give Gary Anderson a good chance. As an outsider Krzysztof Ratajski, because he is in a very good mood now and if you can win back-to-back Players Championship tournaments, you can get far in the World Championship.

Darts Actueel wishes Jeffrey de Graaf a successful World Championship and we hope that the Dutchman manages to keep his tourcard!

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