The 2021/22 World Darts Championship resumes on Monday afternoon as the Third Round action gets under way at Alexandra Palace….
The 2021/22 World Darts Championship resumes on Monday afternoon as the Third Round action gets under way at Alexandra Palace.
Sixty-four players departed the sport’s show-piece event prior to the Christmas break, leaving 32 to battle it out for the £500,000 top prize and the illustrious Sid Waddell trophy.
The stakes and format now increase as four of the six players involved in action in the afternoon session look to break new ground at Ally Pally by reaching the Last 16 for the first time.
Michael Smith produced the stand-out performance of the Second Round as he averaged 106.3 in a 3-0 rout of Ron Meulenkamp and will be keen to pick up from where he left off last week.
Runner-up here three years ago, Smith is the number nine seed and is situated in a loaded top quarter of the draw which also houses the likes of Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton.
Bully Boy also boasts the highest checkout percentage of the tournament so far, having converted 75 per cent of his attempts at doubles.
His second test comes against Republic of Ireland number one Willie O’Connor – who has already equalled his best run in this competition to date.
The former World Cup of Darts finalist held his nerve in a nail-biting sudden death shoot-out to defeat America’s Danny Lauby in Round One before brushing aside a struggling Glen Durrant in straight sets.
O’Connor, a Premier League ‘Challenger’ in Dublin two years ago, will be looking to raise his scoring game against an opponent who landed six 180s in his opener and dropped just one leg.
The opening match of the day sees Dutch number two Dirk van Duijvenbode take on an in-form Ross Smith.
Van Duijvenbode enjoyed a superb run to the Quarter-Finals in only his second appearance in the World Championship 12 months ago and will be determined to emulate that in front of a packed crowd.
The 2020 World Grand Prix finalist secured his first win in a televised ranking major since March’s UK Open when he edged out Russia’s Boris Koltsov 3-2 in a highly-charged encounter before Christmas.
Smith finds himself in the Last 32 of the World Championship for the first time in five attempts, having swept aside Canada’s Jeff Smith in Round One before knocking out 16th seed Stephen Bunting in a dramatic tie break.
Winner of a Players Championship event this season, ‘Smudger’ is closing in on a place in the world’s top 32 and will look to subdue the lively Dutchman in this closely-matched contest.
Two players entering uncharted territory go head-to-head in the final match of the afternoon as German star Florian Hempel faces Australian qualifier Raymond Smith.
Hempel has announced his arrival onto the world stage in style with two eye-catching wins on debut, kicking off with a straight sets rout of fellow countryman Martin Schindler, before pulling off a stunning 3-1 scalp of fifth seed Dimitri van den Bergh with a 98.4 average.
The former Handball professional, who secured his Tour Card at European Qualifying School in February, has already climbed a staggering 25 places to 63rd in the Order of Merit as a result of his run here and will now fancy his chances of going deep into the competition in what looks to be a wide open second quarter.
Smith, who was beaten in Round One on debut in 2018/19, marked his return with a superb 3-1 win over Jamie Hughes, before dumping out 28th seed Devon Petersen in straight sets.
The DPA qualifier is already guaranteed the biggest payday of his career so far (£25,000) but has looked ice cool on in the pressure cauldron of Ally Pally and could cause Hempel real problems should he perform around his tournament average of 94 and 57 per cent on the outer ring.
The action gets under way from 12.30pm GMT, with Third Round matches to be contested over the best seven sets, best of five legs per set.
Final set in matches must be won by two clear legs, unless the score reaches 5-5, in which case a sudden-death leg will be played.
World Darts Championship 2021/22 Day Ten Schedule
Monday December 27
12.45pm Ross Smith v Dirk Van Duijvenbode
2.15pm Michael Smith v William O’Connor
3.45pm Florian Hempel v Raymond Smith