Rob Cross came from a set down to knock Raymond van Barneveld out of the 2021/22 World Darts Championship in Round…
Rob Cross came from a set down to knock Raymond van Barneveld out of the 2021/22 World Darts Championship in Round Two as the pre-Christmas action concluded.
Cross, the 2018 World Champion, recovered from a slow start to topple five-time World Champion Van Barneveld after the Dutchman was unable to ride the tidal wave of support from his adoring “Barney Army”.
Van Barneveld enjoyed a stunning start to the eagerly anticipated contest, producing a roof-raising 170 checkout as he claimed the first set 3-1.
Cross replied by taking set two by the same scoreline, sealing it with a 93 checkout, before winning a pivotal deciding leg of the third set to go ahead.
The reigning European Champion then closed out the victory with a three-leg burst to end Van Barneveld’s World Championship comeback.
“I had a great second set and I think that made Raymond sort of fade in the game,” said Cross, who will now take on Daryl Gurney.
“Fair play to him. He is a legend and he played like the champion he is in that first set but once I got my bearings, I found the game to beat him.
“I’ve worked hard over the last couple of years and now I am back. I feel like there is something around the corner. I can go on to do great things.”
Alan Soutar and Jose de Sousa both pulled off comeback victories in a dramatic afternoon session on Day Nine, as Mensur Suljovic and Jason Lowe crashed out of the £2.5 million event.
Soutar clawed his way back from two sets and two legs down and incredibly survived eight match darts before taking out a magnificent match-winning 144 checkout to defeat a crestfallen Suljovic.
The Austrian won eight of the first nine legs to move to the brink of what looked like a comfortable success, but missed two darts to claim a 3-0 win and another two to prevail in four sets.
Soutar levelled the match and then punished Suljovic for four more match darts in the final set to force a tie-break.
With Ally Pally debutant Soutar 5-4 up, Suljovic squandered a dart at tops for a 125 attempt to force a sudden-death leg, and the Scottish ace stepped forward to produce a sensational 144 finish to complete the fightback.
“I can’t even describe that match,” said Soutar, who will take on De Sousa in the third round after returning to Scotland for two shifts as a firefighter over the Christmas period.
“In my head I was dead and buried and something just clicked. I was just trying to win another leg.
“You don’t give up in that position but you kind of just relax and the scores start coming. That’s exactly what happened.”
De Sousa also fought back from the brink of defeat to see off Lowe in a high quality encounter.
Lowe took out 125 and 118 as he claimed the first set 3-2, before winning set two in a deciding leg to move within touching distance of the last 32.
Former Grand Slam champion De Sousa won the third set with an 81 finish before levelling on double nine to force a fifth set.
The Portuguese ace clinched the match with a 124 checkout as he won eight of the last nine legs to progress.
“Jason made me work a lot so I’m happy to be through to the next round,” said De Sousa.
“I just kept thinking to myself that I’m better than this and to focus on my game. It’s very difficult to come from two sets down to win.
“I managed to find my game towards the end and I’m really happy to get the victory.”
Chris Dobey also recovered from two sets down to defeat promising Austrian youngster Rusty-Jake Rodriguez and set up a show-down with Michael van Gerwen.
Rodriguez, who turns 21 on Christmas Eve, won each of the first two sets in deciding legs after Dobey had missed darts to win both.
However, the 31-year-old battled back, taking the third set 3-1 before forcing a decider in the last match of round two.
Dobey then bounced back from being broken in the first leg of set five, going on to seal it 3-1 to advance.
Fellow Bedlington ace Callan Rydz produced a stunning display to brush aside Brendan Dolan is straight sets earlier on Thursday afternoon.
Emerging talent Rydz averaged 102.73 in blistering performance, which included four 180s – all of them coming in the final set.
Dolan himself averaged over 100 but was no match for a rampant Rydz, who progressed to take on Nathan Aspinall in round three.
“That’s the best I’ve played in a televised tournament,” said Rydz, who posted a doubles success rate of 64%.
“If you are going to play well, this is the time to do it. I’ve had a good year on the ProTour but it’s different on the stage and I’m so happy to play well.
“My finishing was pretty good and hopefully everything is clicking so I can have a deep run at this tournament.”
Danny Noppert came from one set behind against Jason Heaver to set up a third round clash against Ryan Searle.
The Dutchman faced an uphill task when Heaver took the first set 3-1, missing just one dart at a double in the process.
Noppert, though, proved to be up to the challenge as he rattled in five 180s en route to a convincing victory.
Germany’s Gabriel Clemens eased to a straight sets triumph against Lewy Williams to seal his post-Christmas return.
Clemens landed four 180s and a 143 checkout in a routine victory against the emerging Welshman.
During the game’s third set, Williams threw the millionth dart in PDC World Darts Championship history – but it was Clemens who took the honours, setting up a third round tie with Jonny Clayton.
Damon Heta reached the last 32 for the first time following a 3-1 win over Luke Woodhouse, who hit six 180s in defeat.
The Australian ace sealed the success with a brilliant final set, which he won 3-0 with an average of more than 104 and was completed with a fabulous 124 checkout.
Former Brisbane Masters winner Heta, who missed to darts to earn a straight sets victory, will now return after Christmas to face second seed Peter Wright.
The action resumes on Monday December 27 after a three-day Christmas break with a double session of third round ties, including defending champion Gerwyn Price’s meeting with Kim Huybrechts and Clayton’s tie against Clemens.
William Hill World Darts Championship 2021/22 Day Nine Results
Thursday December 23
Damon Heta 3-1 Luke Woodhouse (R2)
Brendan Dolan 0-3 Callan Rydz (R2)
Mensur Suljovic 2-3 Alan Soutar (R2)
Jose de Sousa 3-2 Jason Lowe (R2)
Danny Noppert 3-1 Jason Heaver (R2)
Gabriel Clemens 3-0 Lewis Williams (R2)
Rob Cross 3-1 Raymond van Barneveld (R2)
Chris Dobey 3-2 Rusty-Jake Rodriguez (R2)