It’s heartbreak for Nathan Aspinall as a persistent wrist injury and tendinitis has ruled him out of the upcoming Masters.
A weekend in Milton Keynes perhaps doesn’t have the same appeal as a fortnight on the golden sands of Jamaica – but for Nathan it does, he had a tournament there to win.
Instantly, as the door firmly slammed shut for The Asp, Devon Petersen’s swung wide open.
With Simon Whitlock already benefiting from Danny Noppert’s absence, The African Warrior is next in line to have a fighting chance of sitting on the throne.
Fresh from a break in the Caribbean, Aspinall spoke about his ongoing affliction.
“The last dart I threw was against Callan [Rydz] in the World Championships. Shortly after that, we took a family holiday to Jamaica so I’m yet to put in any oche time this year.
“We landed last Friday and I was on the practice board the next day. But straight away, the pain was absolutely killing me.
“It’s the same wrist injury that I’ve been carrying since a pro-tour late last year where I suddenly felt a pop in my wrist.
“As time went on, it felt worse. Eventually, I was diagnosed with fibro triangular complex.”
Any injury with that many syllables is generally pretty serious. And this proved to be the case.
Aspinall added: “I carried it all through the Players Championship Finals in Minehead too. That was the real start of the pain.
“After the Worlds, I was told to rest the injury for 8-12 weeks and it should be fine – but it’s not. Annoying.
“So yesterday, I spoke to my manager Martin and also with Wazza [Alan Warriner-Little]. Under advice, I decided to pull out of the tournament.
“Naturally, I’m gutted. It’s the first time I have had to withdraw from an event but just can’t risk aggravating it further and being out for months.
“The plan now is to have further treatment and use the upcoming pro-tours to get back playing competitively. Then look at having a good run at the UK Open in March.
Speaking about his replacement, Nathan didn’t mind too much!
Laughing, he said: “Yeah I asked who will take my place and they said it was Devon. I like him so that’s ok!”
He likes you Devon – that’s nice isn’t it?
“Ha! Tell him I like him too!”, smiled the charismatic South African.
“Joking aside, like I said on social media, it’s not the way I wanted to be in – but the show must go on”, he added.
“I wish Nathan a speedy recovery. Just glad it’s something that can be fixed and he is back playing again very soon. Actually, I was looking forward to watching him on TV this weekend – he is box office.
Fortunately, after exiting the World Championship early (that isn’t the fortunate bit!), Petersen has been hard at work putting in the hours on his practice board. That means he is ready to roll at relatively short notice – four days in fact.
Normally, January is a time for a quick getaway for professional dart players – but not for Devon.
Explaining, he said: “I prefer to use that time to fully prepare for the season ahead. Glad I did now!
“I knew that with Simon [Whitlock] already being called up to compete, I would be the next should anyone else pull out.
“When my manager rang last night with the news, I was ready. The PDC don’t tell you who you’re replacing – just that you are in.
“So I found out that it was Nathan a short time after when it was officially announced. The same time everyone else did.”
“I now have a golden opportunity and I’ll give it my best shot. I’ll be trying all I can to win the tournament and perhaps earn a Premier League call up – who knows.
“It’s certainly not a free hit. Look what happened with Jonny [Clayton] last year. They increased the competitors to 24 players – he got in, won it then picked up loads of titles! That could be me this year.”
Indeed it could. Washing the car and mowing the lawn will now have to wait – Milton Keynes calls.
Come Sunday night, if it is Devon’s name etched on The Masters trophy, he would have walked an extremely arduous path. That trek begins with Luke Humphries.
Words: Paul Woodage (Lead Writer) Images: PDC
Darts World Magazine (Issue 577) and 2022 bundle offers
Subscribe or purchase your copy