WORLD champion Michael Smith is not ready to hand his crown over to anyone else as he prepares for the defence of his title.

The 33-year-old lifted the Sid Waddell Trophy for the first time in January after a stunning performance against Michael van Gerwen in the final, hitting a nine-dart finish in the greatest leg in the history of the sport.

He has struggled to live up to the billing of world champion during 2023 but is determined to keep hold of the silverware in the Alexandra Palace tournament which begins next month.

"It is going to be a sad moment because I am going to be introduced as the reigning champion, but if I get beat next time I am going to be the former," said Smith, who will play Kevin Doets or Stowe Buntz in the second round.

"I don't want to be the former. Eventually it will happen, but I'm not ready for it to end yet. I want to be announced next year as the reigning back-to-back champion, that is what I am striving for.

"I know I can do it, I have to work on my game to find it. I have done it countless times before, it is one more big push now to end the year on a big high.

"It feels like it has gone too quick. I have enjoyed it, I have virtually taken the year off darts, especially the floor events, just to enjoy what I did. Twelve months has gone by too quickly, it's a bit saddening, but also happy to be at Ally Pally and defend my title."