Michael van Gerwen says Nathan Aspinall looks up to him and he plans to exploit that respect when they meet in the PDC World Darts Championship semi-final on Monday.
Van Gerwen booked his place in the last four with a comfortable victory over Darius Labanauskas on Sunday evening after Aspinall beat Dimitri van den Bergh in his quarter-final earlier in the day.
The Englishman beat the Dutchman the last time they met and their head-to-head record is level at 2-2, but MVG is far from concerned by the UK Open champion.
After Aspinall won his quarter-final he said he fancied a crack at MVG, but Mighty Mike says the Asp was just pleased enough to play him in the practice room.
‘He was really happy to practice with me today, but I practice with everyone else as well,’ said Van Gerwen of the Asp.
‘He looks up to me, I know that, but I’m going to use that against him and we’ll see what’s going to happen.
‘I practice with anyone, whoever is next to me on the practice board and asks to have a game with me.
Michael van Gerwen swats aside Darius Labanauskas at PDC World Darts Championship
Blood on the oche as Darius Labanauskas stabs himself at PDC World Darts Championship
Fallon Sherrock reacts to five more PDC World Series of Darts invites
‘I practiced with Gerwyn [Price] today, it’s no problem, something I always do.
‘I’d practice with Nathan before we play, but he doesn’t want to practice with me, on a match day all of a sudden they don’t want to practice with me.’
Van Gerwen was reminded of Aspinall’s impressive record against him, but insists that the defeats away from the bright lights mean nothing.
‘I’m really nervous now,’ smirked MVG with a dollop of sarcasm. ‘Of course not, this is the World Championship, something completely different.
‘We’re going to play first to six sets, best of 11 and I’m looking forward to it.
‘He’s someone who’s got really good confidence, but me too, so we’ll see what’s going to happen in that game.’
Aspinall reached the semi-finals at Alexandra Palace last year on debut and has since become a major champion, winning the UK Open.
His second run to the last four in north London has seen him rise into the top 10 in the world, but while MVG respects what he has achieved, he does not bracket him among the elite of the game just yet.
‘He first has to win a little bit more, but he did really well for himself in the last year, two years,’ said Van Gerwen.
‘Of course he deserves respect, but only a little bit.’
The confidence oozes out of Van Gerwen no matter who he is facing, knowing that his best is too good for anyone else, however confident they are.
‘It’s over the long distance now, the best players survive,’ continued the world champion.
‘If I’m in good form I don’t see anyone beating me, but you first have to get there.
‘It’s a lot of preparation to get into the position to play well, but I feel good. However, someone else feels, I don’t really care.’
Van Gerwen and Aspinall lock horns on the Alexandra Palace stage on Monday night for a place in the World Championship final.