Danny Noppert saw off the returning Michael van Gerwen as six seeds were sent packing on the opening night of…
Danny Noppert saw off the returning Michael van Gerwen as six seeds were sent packing on the opening night of the 2022 Dutch Darts Masters in Amsterdam on Friday.
The inaugural staging of the World Series event saw six of the eight Dutch representatives prevail at the Ziggo Dome, with UK Open champion Noppert defeating Premier League winner Van Gerwen 6-4 in a high quality show-down.
Van Gerwen, making his first appearance since undergoing wrist surgery last week, fell behind following an extraordinary start, which saw both players averaging above 110 after five legs.
Despite leaving a double after nine darts, Van Gerwen saw Noppert open his account with an 11-dart hold, but the world number three replied with a sublime 141 checkout to level.
Noppert hit back with a 120 checkout, and after landing back-to-back 180s to hold in leg five, the World Cup semi-finalist extended his lead to 4-2 with a 90 checkout on the bullseye.
Van Gerwen restored parity at four apiece with consecutive 72 and 62 finishes, but Noppert stopped the rot via double 12, before following up his sixth 180 with a 14-darter to seal the deal.
“It was a crazy game. The trebles and finishes were going in early on,” said Noppert. “I have so much respect for Michael. He is only just returning from injury, but he played really well.
“I just tried to focus on my own game. Everything is possible if you believe in yourself, and I believe in myself. This was a great start.”
Earlier in the night, Vincent van der Voort raised the roof by knocking out world number two Gerwyn Price in a deciding leg.
Van der Voort rallied from 2-0 down with a trio of 13-darters, and though back-to-back legs from Price appeared to shift the pendulum back in his favour, the home favourite restored parity with a brilliant 102 checkout in leg eight.
Having wrestled back the throw, the former UK Open finalist then posted his fourth 13-darter of the contest to complete the job in the decider.
“I didn’t play particularly well, but that crowd is just amazing,” admitted Van der Voort.
“Any win against Gerwyn Price is special. He is the world number two, he’s one of the best players in the world. I’m very happy.”
World Champion Peter Wright was another big-name casualty of the First Round as the Scot succumbed to Dirk van Duijvenbode in an entertaining affair.
The pair traded 11 maximums in just nine legs, but it was the former World Grand Prix runner-up who ran out a convincing 6-3 winner.
Van Duijvenbode posted seven perfect darts in leg four, before rattling in a delightful 11-darter to close in on victory, eventually wrapping up proceedings with a 96 average and six 180s.
“There were lots of friends and family supporting me, and if you beat the biggest names, you want to do it in front of the people you love,” said Van Duijvenbode, a semi-finalist at last week’s World Cup of Darts.
“I don’t look at my own opponent, I look at my own performance. Peter didn’t play his best game, but I know I can improve.”
Van Duijvenbode will now meet Martijn Kleermaker – who fired in six maximums on his way to a memorable 6-4 win over top seed Michael Smith.
US Masters winner Smith was punished for a slow start, but successive 96 and 80 finishes saw the World Championship runner-up regain the lead.
Kleermaker came roaring back with a majestic ten-darter to level in leg six, before following up a sensational 124 finish on the bull in leg nine with a 78 combination on tops to sink the St Helens star.
“Michael Smith is the best player in the world right now, so to beat him in front of my home crowd is awesome,” reflected Kleermaker, who averaged 96 and missed just two darts at a double.
“This was an amazing game. That 78 finish is probably one of the best 78 checkouts I’ve hit in my life!”
Meanwhile, Jermaine Wattimena produced a superb display of finishing to stun World Series Finals champion Jonny Clayton in a deciding leg.
Finishes of 116, 95 and 122 saw Wattimena recover from a sluggish start to force a final leg, and the Dutchman held his nerve to prevail via double six, sparkling jubilant scenes of celebration.
“I haven’t played well in the last few months, so this is incredible,” admitted Wattimena.
“There was more pressure on me tonight, but the crowd really helped me. I think I played well. I have no words for this. It feels really special.”
Nordic Masters winner Dimitri Van den Bergh began his bid for back-to-back World Series titles with a resounding 6-2 success against Ron Meulenkamp.
The Belgian fired in a classy 118 checkout in leg two, and reeled off the final three legs in 13, 14 and 16 darts to set up a Quarter-Final meeting with Wattimena.
Fourth seed James Wade was the other PDC representative to advance, easing through to the last eight with a 6-2 victory over former World Matchplay semi-finalist Jeffrey de Zwaan.
Ten-time TV title winner Wade capitalised on De Zwaan’s outer ring woes in merciless fashion, drawing first blood with a sublime 125 checkout and winning five of the last six legs to triumph.
The world number five will now play Maik Kuivenhoven on Saturday night after the Dutchman breezed past a struggling Fallon Sherrock 6-1 in his opener.
Saturday will see the Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals and final played in one unmissable evening session as the remaining eight players battle it out for the £20,000 top prize.
Dutch Darts Masters 2022 Day One Results
Friday June 24
Jonny Clayton 5-6 Jermaine Wattimena
Fallon Sherrock 1-6 Maik Kuivenhoven
James Wade 6-2 Jeffrey de Zwaan
Gerwyn Price 5-6 Vincent van der Voort
Michael Smith 4-6 Martijn Kleermaker
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-2 Ron Meulenkamp
Michael van Gerwen 4-6 Danny Noppert
Peter Wright 3-6 Dirk van Duijvenbode
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