By Phil Lanning
ADRIAN LEWIS admits it’s been heartbreaking to find his top game again while his wife fights serious illness.
The two-time world champ returns to the big stage at the World Matchplay in a heavyweight clash of the titans against Michael van Gerwen in Blackpool tonight (Sunday).
But Lewis, 37, revealed that his bid for the glory days has been a struggle as missus Sarah battles with kidney disease.
He admitted: “We’re not robots. The biggest challenge has been family illness going on away from darts which people don’t know about.
My wife Sarah has got a kidney disease. That has meant a lot of time spent in hospitals, it does take its toll.
“Especially because I’m away all the time, it’s about looking after the house and the kids. There’s always the possibility of Sarah having a bad turn, it’s such a worry.
“She got diagnosed in 2015. They say by the time she is 40 she’ll be in and out of hospital all the time, that’s what it is coming to.
“Sarah is obviously going through it but to watch her go through it takes a lot out of you mentally.
“For me, darts is a mental game. Sometimes if you can’t get your head right it’s difficult.”
Lewis, world champ in 2011 and 2012, has never won the Matchplay at the Winter Gardens, and knows that facing Van Gerwen is a mouthwatering prospect for the fans.
He also believes he can get back on the road to winning a third world title, adding: “I’ve been playing half decent and not getting the results. If you average you get beat.
“At the moment I’m just trying to enjoy it really. I know I can win another world title. I’ll keep going, keep working at it and taking little steps.
“I can beat anybody and I can lose to anybody. MVG is a quality player and he’s just come back off winning the Premier League.
“I know he’s got an issue with his hand that he’s got sorted out.
“But if you look at the draw you don’t want any of them!
“I don’t think anyone’s been in absolutely great form. My game plan is to go up there and do my best.”
Van Gerwen has won two Matchplays in 2015 and 2016 but is recovering from an op on his arm to resolve a carpal tunnel syndrome issue.
He said: “I don’t have the full power back in my hand yet. I can feel it when I lift up my daughter, things like that you know it’s not 100 per cent.
“But they did say six to eight weeks minimum before I’m totally OK. I’ve also heard people have problems for three to five months as well.
“But to play darts is not a problem for me. I still need to be careful with some things I do.
“For me it was nice to say I’m still there by winning the Premier League, especially in front of the big crowds again.
“It gives you a great confident boost. There was a lot of pressure on my shoulders. You want to hurt the opponents.
“I’m the main man anyway. They all talk about me and want to beat me. When I lose it’s a big story and one of the other’s lose, it’s just one of them things.
“The pressure is on my shoulders but I can handle it. You have to perform.
“But my arm is strong enough to pick up the Matchplay trophy, that’s for sure.”
MVG is also wary of tactics on stage from Lewis, adding: “Adrian is capable, he is one of the most talented players in the world. Has he done enough for his capability? No, I don’t think so. But it doesn’t matter, it still makes him a really good player.
“With all the little things he does on the stage, he’s always tough to beat.
“We all know what Adrian is like, he’s full of tricks, everyone knows his game.
“He stamps, he talks. I always tell him anyway to his face, not behind his back. It’s a bit of banter between us.”