Suljovic Delighted With Grand Slam Return

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Suljovic Delighted With Grand Slam Return

The world number six came agonisingly close to a third televised title at last month's World Matchplay, going down 21-19 to Gary Anderson in a classic final - but his run sealed a place in Wolverhampton.

Suljovic is now looking forward to making his third Grand Slam appearance in November, when he will be bidding to lift the newly-titled Eric Bristow Trophy.

"I'm so pleased to be playing in the Grand Slam again," said Suljovic, who topped his group at last year's event before going out to Anderson in the quarter-finals.

"It's always great to take part in these tournaments, playing against both PDC players and our BDO friends.

"I think my form is much better at the moment than last year, so I think I can go a bit further if I have a little luck along the way."

The last 12 months have been magnificent for Suljovic, claiming his first televised title at the Champions League of Darts in emotional fashion last September before doubling his tally at the German Darts Masters in May.

He fell just short of making it a hat-trick of TV crowns within a year in Blackpool but the Premier League star remains delighted with his progress.

"It was a massive boost to do so well at the World Matchplay," Suljovic added.

"I kind-of wished there was another tournament straight away so I could keep going.

"I have massive respect for my hero Gary for winning, but it's given me so much confidence going forward, now I'm starting to believe I can win one of these big tournaments.

"The reaction has been amazing, both in Austria and in the UK. There have been so many people stopping me for a chat and congratulating me.

"Every single comment has been positive and I'd like to thank everyone who commented on social media - I try to read as many messages as possible."

Suljovic's run to the quarter-finals of last year's Grand Slam included a second round victory over Dutch youngster Berry van Peer, who won through from the Group Stage despite visibly suffering with Dartitis.

The Austrian admitted that the former World Youth Championship finalist's displays were a strong memory from the event, adding: "The way Berry fought through Dartitis last year is probably one of the things that comes to mind.

"It took so much courage even to get up on stage in front of everyone as well as a TV audience. He gained everyone's respect for that."

Suljovic's qualification sees him join UK Open and World Matchplay champion Anderson, reigning Grand Slam champion Michael van Gerwen and 2018 World Champion Rob Cross in the field.

World Youth Champion Dimitri van den Bergh, World Cup winner Raymond van Barneveld and TV finalists Peter Wright, Michael Smith, Josh Payne, Corey Cadby and Jonny Clayton are also set to compete in Wolverhampton.

PDC players can still qualify for the event at the Champions League, World Grand Prix, European Championship and World Series of Darts Finals in the coming months.

The Bwin Grand Slam of Darts features 32 players from both the PDC and BDO systems competing across nine days, with the 2018 tournament being held at the Aldersley Leisure Village in Wolverhampton from November 10-18.

ARTICLE BY JOSH PHILLIPS