Smith turns on the style in Wolverhampton (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)
Michael Smith recorded the third highest average in Grand Slam history as he joined Michael van Gerwen, Dave Chisnall and Gabriel Clemens in qualifying for the knockout stages in Wolverhampton on Sunday.
Smith averaged 113.62 in a fabulous 5-1 win over UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall as the world number three secured his place in the Last 16 in style.
Smith continued his superb start to the event, following up Saturday’s victory over Glen Durrant with a second successive win, meaning the Lakeside Champion and Aspinall now face a straight shoot-out on Monday.
“It was a massive match and I knew I had to win, so I’m pleased to play so well,” said Smith. “Nathan said I was phenomenal and I felt I owed him one for when he beat me in Las Vegas.
“It was a big game and I’m glad I did myself proud and got the win, and I’m safe. As long as I won the match that was the most important thing for me – the record average would have been nice but records don’t win you tournaments.
“This event is a target for me because I’m desperate to win a TV title. That’s been my aim this year.”
Durrant bounced back from his opening loss to Smith with a dramatic 5-4 win over Martin Schindler, with that result meaning the German is now eliminated.
Schindler led 4-2 but paid for missing two match darts at tops as three-time Lakeside Champion Durrant produced a pair of 84 finishes to keep his hopes alive before winning their deciding leg.
Three-time Grand Slam champion Michael van Gerwen stormed back from 2-0 down against Adrian Lewis to qualify from Group A with a 5-2 victory.
“I’ve not been at my best but my darts didn’t let me down and I found an extra gear when I had to against Adrian,” said Van Gerwen. “He tried to push me, especially at the beginning, but I did the right things at the right moments.
“I’m through to the next round and I can look ahead to that, but I’ll still concentrate on the last group match. Ross Smith beat me in the European Championship and of course I want to put that right.”
Kent’s Smith cannot now qualify after losing out 5-1 to Jim Williams, with the BDO World Trophy winner having finished four doubles from as many attempts – including checkouts of 122 and 118 – as he opened up a key 4-0 lead to keep his hopes alive.
Chisnall, meanwhile, ensured his qualification from Group E, defeating Rob Cross 5-3 to force the world number two into a shoot-out with Jamie Hughes on Monday night.
“I’m over the moon to win and be through,” said Chisnall, the World Grand Prix runner-up in Dublin last month.
“When you play the world number two you know you’ve got to battle and I did, it wasn’t pretty but I got the job done. I’m here to get as far as I can and it would be lovely to go one better than in Dublin.”
Hughes produced a strong display to open his account in Group E, landing four 180s in a 5-1 win over Lisa Ashton, eliminating the four-time Women’s World Champion in the process.
Germany’s Clemens continued his superb Grand Slam debut as the qualifier defeated Daryl Gurney 5-4 to secure his progression to the last 16, hitting a 12-darter in the deciding leg of a high-quality contest.
“I have no words,” said an overwhelmed Clemens. “Daryl us a fantastic player and to beat him on this stage is crazy.”
Gurney now faces a shoot-out with Brendan Dolan on Monday night, after the 2011 World Grand Prix finalist came from a leg down to defeat Richard Veenstra 5-1, knocking out the Dutchman.
Reigning champion Gerwyn Price survived two missed match darts from Robert Thornton before claiming his second Group C victory with a 5-4 defeat of the Scot.
Thornton had looked on course to remain unbeaten after moving 4-3 up, but failed to give himself a dart at a double on an 82 finish as Price forced a deciding leg, before missing doubles 12 and six to allow the Welshman in to complete a 94 finish for a 12-darter in snatching the points.
“I can’t ask for any more than two wins from two and I just need to concentrate on my own game on Tuesday and try to win,” said Price, who meets Dimitri Van den Bergh in his final group match.
“I was chasing Robert all the way through the game and he was hitting trebles for fun. I didn’t think I was going to get a chance to break him, so I’m happy to get over the line.
“I want to perform well and hopefully I can pick my game up, improve my scoring and not ride my luck too much because it’s going to run out sooner or later.”
Van den Bergh finished five doubles from nine attempts as he claimed a first Group C win, defeating Japan’s Mikuru Suzuki 5-1 in their second contest.
Two-time finalist Gary Anderson averaged a superb 105.08 as he claimed a second victory in Group D, defeating William O’Connor 5-3 despite the Irish ace taking out a 158 finish.
Darren Webster bounced back from Saturday’s defeat to Anderson with a 5-2 win over Dave Parletti, taking out a key 125 checkout of bull-25-bull on his way to a first Group D victory.
James Wade survived two missed match darts as he came from 4-2 down to defeat Ian White 5-4, with Steve Lennon coming from 3-0 down to defeat Wesley Harms 5-4 by taking out a stunning 167 finish in the deciding leg.
Wade now sits in pole position in Group B with two wins ahead of his final group tie with Lennon, while White meets Harms on Tuesday in another quartet where all player could still qualify.
Peter Wright, Danny Noppert and Ryan Harrington remain alive in Group F going into Monday’s final fixtures, with only Wales’ Wayne Warren unable to progress.
Noppert bounced back from his loss on Saturday with a strong display to defeat Warren 5-1, while Wright landed three ton-plus checkouts during his 5-2 win over Harrington.
Monday night’s action sees the players in Groups E-H return to the Aldersley Leisure Village stage to complete their round-robin fixtures, with the players in Groups A-D facing off on Tuesday.
Smith sends out a message at the Grand Slam as Van Gerwen, Chisnall and Clemens also qualify
Michael Smith recorded the third highest average in Grand Slam history as he joined Michael van Gerwen, Dave Chisnall and…
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