Lisa Ashton is ready to battle it out with Mikuru Suzuki for top spot (Picture: Getty Images)Mikuru Suzuki wrested the BDO Women’s World Championship away from Lisa Ashton this year and the Lancashire Rose is relishing the battle to reclaim it.
Ashton has claimed the top prize in the women’s game four times and went into the 2019 World Championships having won the previous two editions of the event.
However, she was sensationally beaten in the first round by qualifier Suzuki who would go on to lift the trophy on debut without dropping a set.
It was quite the marker laid down by the Japanese star, but now she has the added burden of being world champ, something Lisa knows can weigh heavy at times.
The two ladies meet this Friday at the England Open and Ashton is ready to strike a blow in the war to decide who is queen of the oche.
Mikuru Suzuki has a big target on her back nowadays (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)‘The pressure has eased off a bit because it’s not me who’s world champ now,’ Ashton told Metro.co.uk. ‘The target is there but it’s smaller, Mikuru has got the big target now.
‘Everybody still wants to beat you obviously, but she’s got a bit more pressure.
‘I played her twice in Wales, she beat me on the Friday in the quarters [of the Welsh Classic], then I played her on the Saturday and I beat her in the semis to get in the final [of the Welsh Open], so I think we’re even.
‘She’s ranked #11 at the minute in the world which is brilliant for the amount of tournaments she plays.
‘I play her Friday night in Selsey, I think she wants payback. But we’re good friends off the board, we play our game then get back to it.
‘It is nice to have a rivalry, we’re both at the top and everybody’s seeing the clashes. When the draw comes out everybody says, ‘Ooo, look at the draw,’ it kicks in then.
‘We’re friends off the oche, then we’re not friends, then we’re okay again.’
The world number one is still riding high in the BDO, but she will be aiming to make a return to the PDC World Championship after it was announced that two ladies will be competing at the 2020 event at Alexandra Palace.
The Lancashire Rose made a stunning impact in her first round match, despite losing to Jan Dekker on her debut in December, and she has her first Ally Pally victory in her sights this year, as well as a return to Q School, after missing the cut by one point in January.
‘It’s lovely to see the PDC invite the ladies back again, the hard work is going to start again,’ Lisa continued. ‘It was brilliant, it was lovely to be invited and you couldn’t ask for a better atmosphere.
‘The set-up was completely different, a lot more professional than what we are [at the BDO]. I’m hoping the BDO can make their systems a bit more like that. Me and a lot of the ladies have had chats with the BDO to improve the way things work.
‘There’ll be two back this year and then hopefully it’ll be four. Hopefully I can be back again this year and I’ll be used to the crowd and go one step further.
‘The plan is PDC World Champs, then Lakeside, then Q School again. It would be brilliant to win the lot, but I really just want to get the first win.’
Becoming the first woman to win a match at the PDC World Championship would be yet another incredible achievement in Ashton’s remarkable career and is very much a possibility after gaining the valuable experience of last time around.
One thing is for sure, she will have the support of her ‘best friend and pairs partner’ Maria O’Brien, who Ashton claimed would ‘have a fit’ if she didn’t get a mention, so here it is. After some incredibly consistent form for the last two years, the world number nine deserves every mention she gets.
Ashton, O’Brien and Suzuki will all be competing at the England Open which begins on Friday in Selsey.
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