James Wade is aiming to successfully defend his Speedy Services UK Open title when the tournament, known as the ‘FA Cup of Darts’, begins on Thursday.

The world number three is bidding for a hat-trick of titles, after beating Wez Newton in the final to claim the £40,000 first prize last year.

Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

“It’s a completely different challenge to the Premier League and any other major event that we do,” said the seven time major winner.

“I know people say they only take one game at a time but that’s literally all you can do because you’ve no idea who you’ll play in the next round if you get through.

“It’s not like the Premier League or, for example, the World Matchplay in that sense, but that adds to the excitement for me.

“I’m fortunate enough to have won twice in Bolton and it would be fantastic to do it again, but I know I’ll have a tough weekend ahead of me.”

Wade’s second round game will be against either former quarter-finalist Mark Lawrence or one of three amatuer qualifiers, who will battle it out in the preliminary and first rounds earlier in the evening.

“I still don’t know who I’ll be playing on Thursday night, and they’ll have played twice already so that adds to the challenge,” added Wade.

“It’s a short format, the first to four, so I’ll have to be ready because there’s no time to get settled in. I’ve just got to go out there and do a job.”

By Chris Murphy

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