Gerwyn Price spared his blushes after four missed match darts from Mikuru Suzuki in their Grand Slam group clash, while…
Gerwyn Price spared his blushes after four missed match darts from Mikuru Suzuki in their Grand Slam group clash, while Dimitri van den Bergh set a new record average.
Price had faced Suzuki in the round-robin phase 12 months ago, prevailing 5-3 before going on to retain his title, and was once again given a major scare by the Japanese star.
The Welshman put himself under pressure by missing chances to double his lead in the early stages, allowing Suzuki to establish a 2-1 lead.
Price levelled in leg four, but only for the two-time Women’s World Champion to land a sensational 135 checkout on the bull to regain the lead at 3-2.
A 78 finish saw Price level up, and after taking leg seven to go within one of victory, the world number three then saw Suzuki take out 116 to force a deciding leg.
Suzuki was first to a finish with the throw in the decider, missing tops for a 110 checkout before squandering a further three attempts after Price had missed one at the same target.
A relieved Price seized his reprieve to eventually close out the match and avoid a major upset.
“I didn’t play well there at all. I was let off, fair play to Mikuru she was brilliant,” said Price.
“I started poorly and I was chasing the game from then on. I shouldn’t have done that given how I’ve been playing the last few weeks.
“I targeted this game as a 5-0 or 5-1 and I shouldn’t really think of that, I should respect her a bit more.
“Fair play to Mikuru for taking out two ton-plus checkouts to put me under pressure. I was lucky to get over the winning line but a win’s a win.”
Elsewhere in Group G, Price’s World Cup winning team-mate Jonny Clayton also prevailed 5-4 against Ryan Joyce, producing a timely 116 checkout in the decider.
The performance of the day came from Dimitri Van den Bergh, who set a new tournament average of 114.85 and missed double 12 for a nine-darter in his 5-1 win over Ricky Evans in Group H.
After losing the opening leg, the World Matchplay champion won each of his five consecutive legs in five visits to the board or fewer to surpass the previous record of 114.65 set by Phil Taylor against Christian Kist in 2014.
Van den Bergh came agonisingly close to doubling his tally of televised nine-darters, having struck his first at the 2018 Grand Slam.
“I didn’t even realise my average was that high, so it’s a nice surprise to break the record,” said Van den Bergh.
“I’m surprised I played that well given how I felt before the game. My mind wasn’t there in practice and I was very wary of the threat Ricky poses, he’s smashed me before.
“But I always say when I go up on that stage I can play and I showed that today.”
Three-time Grand Slam champion Michael van Gerwen enjoyed a more straightforward opening victory with a 5-0 blitz of Adam Hunt in Group A in a game which lasted less than nine minutes.
The world number one impressed, averaging 105.85 to get his campaign off to a flying start on the back of a testing few months on the oche.
“I put on a good performance but I was maybe punishing myself too hard,” Van Gerwen admitted.
“I feel good. The most important thing is I won today and I can move onto the next one.
“I’m not going to say ‘I’m back’ yet but I’m definitely heading in the right direction. I need a few more games like this.”
Group A’s other match saw German number one Gabriel Clemens land checkouts of 122 and 112 as he defeated in-form Joe Cullen 5-2 in a high-quality encounter.
Nathan Aspinall got his Group H campaign off to a perfect start as he whitewashed struggling BDO World Champion Wayne Warren – who averaged just 70 in his first televised match since January.
In Group E, two-time runner-up Peter Wright suffered a 5-4 defeat to World Grand Prix finalist Dirk van Duijvenbode, while South African debutant Devon Petersen continued his good form with a 5-2 win against Ian White, landing six 180s in the process.
Portugal’s Jose De Sousa also enjoyed a winning debut, averaging just shy of a ton in a 5-4 defeat of Krzysztof Ratajski in Group C, which also saw world number four Michael Smith average 102.51 in a 5-1 defeat of Lisa Ashton.
In Group F, two-time runner-up James Wade impressed with a 102.5 average as he brushed aside Australian debutant Damon Heta 5-2.
Jermaine Wattimena continued his fine form by overcoming an out-of-sorts Glen Durrant 5-1, with the Premier League champion averaging just 79.
Two-time runner-up Gary Anderson, suffering from a knee cartilage problem, limped to a 5-3 victory over 18-year-old Czech debutant Adam Gawlas in Group B, as Simon Whitlock punished eight missed doubles from Ryan Searle as he ran out a 5-3 victor.
In Group D, Dave Chisnall recovered from 3-1 down and survived two match darts in a deciding leg as he edged out Luke Humphries 5-4, while Rob Cross got his campaign off to a strong start with a 5-1 defeat of Justin Pipe 5-1.
Tuesday’s second group matches see Monday’s winning players face off and the losing players also meet, before the final games in the round-robin stage take place across Wednesday and Thursday.
Boylesports Grand Slam of Darts 2020 Results
Monday November 16
Rob Cross 5-1 Justin Pipe (D)
Dave Chisnall 5-4 Luke Humphries (D)
James Wade 5-2 Damon Heta (F)
Simon Whitlock 5-3 Ryan Searle (B)
Glen Durrant 1-5 Jermaine Wattimena (F)
Nathan Aspinall 5-0 Wayne Warren (H)
Dimitri Van den Bergh 5-1 Ricky Evans (H)
Gary Anderson 5-3 Adam Gawlas (B)
Jonny Clayton 5-4 Ryan Joyce (G)
Joe Cullen 2-5 Gabriel Clemens (A)
Krzysztof Ratajski 4-5 Jose De Sousa (C)
Michael Smith 5-1 Lisa Ashton (C)
Michael van Gerwen 5-0 Adam Hunt (A)
Gerwyn Price 5-4 Mikuru Suzuki (G)
Peter Wright 4-5 Dirk van Duijvenbode (E)
Ian White 2-5 Devon Petersen (E)