Michael van Gerwen recovered from a set down to beat Chas Barstow and reach the Third Round of the World…
Michael van Gerwen recovered from a set down to beat Chas Barstow and reach the Third Round of the World Championship, where a defeated Darius Labanauskas landed the second nine-darter in as many days.
Saturday’s action at the Alexandra Palace saw Van Gerwen commence his quest for a fourth World Championship title with a tenacious victory over dangerous debutant Barstow.
The Dutchman squandered seven darts at doubles to take the opening set, which Barstow stole with a brilliant 116 checkout in the deciding leg.
Van Gerwen also lost the first leg of the second set but clinched it 3-1 by finishing 80 with his opponent waiting on a double.
The world number three then made it six legs on the bounce to move a set ahead and take control of the contest, which he went on to wrap up with back-to-back 99 checkouts.
“I’m happy with the win but not really with how I played, I have to do better in the next round and I’ll do that,” said van Gerwen.
“Chas played well in the beginning of the game but I made it too hard for myself by missing too many doubles.
“It’s all about getting through the first game. It’s harder than people think, especially for the top players.
“I’ve done that and I know I will feel more comfortable as the format get longer as the tournament goes on. I’ve got to improve and I will.”
Labanauskas, meanwhile, fired in the tournament’s second nine-dart finish in less than 24 hours, but was unable to overcome Belgium’s Mike De Decker in their First Round contest.
The Lithuanian won the opening set with his perfect leg, which he completed with a 147 checkout, hitting the 12th Ally Pally nine-darter the day after William Borland had produced the 11th in the last leg of his epic victory over Bradley Brooks.
But Labanauskas was unable to enjoy his magical moment for long, winning just two of the next nine legs as De Decker progressed.
“The nine-darter was a special moment in my life but I couldn’t relax after it,” said Labanauskas.
“I think I thought about it for too long and couldn’t find the focus I needed to win the match but well done to Mike, he deserved it.”
De Decker, a late replacement for South Africa’s Charles Losper who was unable to travel due to visa issues, moves through to face Dave Chisnall in the next round.
Ian White enjoyed a 3-1 triumph over Dutchman Chris Landman to reach the third round for the first time since the 2017/18 staging of the sport’s showpiece event.
The first two sets went White’s way but Landman, who had stunned Scott Mitchell in the opening round, halved the deficit by clinching set three.
White, however, raced through the fourth set to complete the win and set up a last 32 meeting with Gary Anderson.
“I’m happy with my performance and relieved to get through after how it’s gone the last few years,” said White, after winning his first World Championship match in four years.
“That first game is always difficult to get through. I’ve put in some good averages in the last couple of years and lost so I didn’t care about the average this time.
“All I wanted to do was win. I’ve managed that and I’m looking forward to a good game against Gary.”
Rowby-John Rodriguez dropped just one leg in a straight sets demolition of Welshman Nick Kenny.
Austrian ace Rodriguez posted an average of 97.5 – the second highest of this year’s event so far – and hit three 180s as he brushed aside a struggling Kenny to reach the second round.
Rodriguez, who reached the World Cup of Darts final earlier this year, won the first five legs and then the last four to storm to glory, setting up a Last 32 clash with Luke Humphries.
“I felt good all day and all game,” said Rodriguez, whose brother Rusty-Jake will make his World Championship debut on Monday.
“All year long I have felt confident. I haven’t felt pressure because I lost my Tour Card and it turned into the best season of my career.
“I’ve just tried to play my game and I am having fun playing darts again, which I think is really important. Rusty and I are doing are doing our own thing but we will support each other.”
Callan Rydz eased to a straight sets victory over Japan’s Yuki Yamada to move into the Second Round for the third consecutive year.
From 2-2 in the opening set, Rydz reeled off seven legs on the spin to close out a comfortable victory.
The 2021 World Matchplay quarter-finalist, who has enjoyed a breakthrough 12 months by winning two Players Championship titles, landed six 180s on the way to setting up a round two tie against Brendan Dolan.
Raymond Smith claimed his first World Championship victory to leave Jamie Hughes still without a win at Alexandra Palace.
Australian qualifier Smith, whose son, Ky, is in action on Sunday afternoon, won an entertaining encounter to kick off Saturday’s action.
Smith won the first set in a deciding leg by taking out 100 for a 12-darter, before doubling his lead despite a second ton-plus checkout from Hughes.
Former Czech Open winner Hughes added a 115 finish as he pulled a set back, but Smith went on to secure a 3-1 success to set up a second round meeting with Devon Petersen.
Jim Williams completed a routine win on his Ally Pally debut as the Welshman defeated Ted Evetts by three sets to one.
UK Challenge Tour Order of Merit winner Williams, who will join the PDC ProTour circuit next year, took advantage of 22 missed doubles by his opponent.
Evetts, the recently-crowned World Youth Champion, lost the first five legs of the match resulting in a two-set deficit which he was unable to overturn – despite racing through the third set to halve the deficit.
Williams finished the job in set four, however, setting up a third round tie against Joe Cullen, with Evetts suffering a defeat on the Alexandra Palace stage two years and a day after his famous loss to Fallon Sherrock.
Adam Hunt enjoyed a straight sets victory over Croatia’s Boris Krcmar to reach round two for the second year in a row.
Hunt punished his opponent for missed darts at doubles throughout the match to set up a meeting with Vincent van der Voort.
William Hill World Darts Championship 2021/22 Day Four Results
Saturday December 18
Jamie Hughes 1-3 Raymond Smith (R1)
Callan Rydz 3-0 Yuki Yamada (R1)
Darius Labanauskas 1-3 Mike De Decker (R1) – *Labanauskas hits a nine-darter*
Ian White 3-1 Chris Landman (R2)
Adam Hunt 3-0 Boris Krcmar (R1)
Ted Evetts 1-3 Jim Williams (R1)
Rowby-John Rodriguez 3-0 Nick Kenny (R1)
Michael van Gerwen 3-1 Chas Barstow (R2)