DENNIS Smith is hoping to put a tough few weeks firmly behind him when he begins his Austrian Open campaign this morning.

The Swindon player qualified for the tournament in Salzburg last month and will find out his first round opponent this morning before getting the event underway in the afternoon.

Smith lost his mother just a few weeks ago, meaning his mind has been firmly elsewhere, but the PDC veteran is pleased to be able to concentrate on his sport once again.

“I’m really looking forward to this one, especially after a dark month last month, so it’s nice to be able to concentrate on my darts again and get back into some tournaments,” he said.

“It was hard, losing my mum, but it’s a part of life you have to cope with at some point. It’s a lot easier to talk about now, it was hard at first, but it’s been really hard.

“You have to lick your wounds and get up for it, but I’ve had lots of friends and my family around me to help me.

“I stayed in for a few weeks and was very down at certain points but it’s nice to be back out playing again now.

“I’m enjoying my darts now and getting some decent results so hopefully that can continue in Austria.

Smith made the quarter-finals last time he was in Austria and is hoping for a repeat performance after also enjoying a good weekend in Coventry last time out.

“Austria was good last year,” he said. “I really enjoyed it and got to the quarters, so doing that again or even better is what I want to do.

“I did well in Coventry last weekend and that’s given me confidence, so hopefully it will be a good weekend for me.”

The event at Salzburg Arena has a prize fund of £100,000, with a good display like to quickly move Smith up the PDC ProTour rankings from his current position of 56th.