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Dave Chisnall becomes third player pulled from the World Darts Championship after positive Covid test

Cross comes through classic against Gurney as Kleermaker thwarts Cullen comeback at Ally Pally

Jamie Shaw in World Darts Championship 29 Dec 2021
Rob Cross celebrates (Photo by Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

Rob Cross closed out a pulsating 4-3 win over Daryl Gurney with a 170 checkout to book his place in the Last 16 of the World Darts Championship.

An eventful Day 11 at Alexandra Palace produced drama, upsets and huge talking points as Michael van Gerwen was ruled out of the tournament after testing positive for Covid-19.

Van Gerwen joined his Dutch compatriot Vincent van der Voort in being withdrawn from the event, meaning Chris Dobey received a bye to the Last 16.

On the stage, 2018 World Champion Cross and two-time quarter-finalist Gurney played out one of the most enthralling ties of the tournament so far, which saw the pair land 23 180s across 33 high-quality legs.

Cross held his nerve to clinch a seven-set triumph, fending off a Gurney fightback to reach the Last 16 for the first time in three years.

An intense contest began with all four of the opening sets going to deciding legs as Cross opened up a 3-1 lead, landing finishes of 147, 130 and 108.

Gurney showed his trademark determination, winning the fourth set to halve the deficit and after Cross missed three match darts in the set five decider, Gurney hit a skin-saving 76 checkout to force a seventh set.

Cross broke throw in the opening leg with a 98 checkout before holding throw with a 116 finish.

Gurney hit back with a 116 of his own and left himself on 121 in the following leg as he threatened to take the match to a tie-break, only for Cross to land the biggest finish in the game to end a classic contest.

“I just couldn’t get away from Daryl, he’s a phenomenal player and he’s back to his best,” said Cross, who will now face Gary Anderson or Ian White in the Last 16.

“I didn’t actually feel like I played well tonight. I should’ve finished the job earlier but I showed my class in the end.

“I believe I’m a better player than I was when I won it [the World Championship]. I’ve got the experience now, I know what I’m doing and I’ve got the game.”

Meanwhile, Peter Wright recovered from 2-0 down to defeat Damon Heta 4-2 after changing his darts following the second set.

Heta took advantage of a slow start from Wright to claim the first two sets, before a change of equipment sparked a revival from the 2020 World Champion.

Wright reeled off four consecutive sets, averaging 102 to blow away his Australian opponent and set up a show-down with Ryan Searle in a repeat of November’s Players Championship Finals decider.

“I got away with it tonight,” admitted Wright. “I tried out a new set of darts, they didn’t quite work so I went back to the ones I know do work.

“I’ll have to play a lot better than that to have a chance of winning the title.”

Searle defeated Danny Noppert for the first time as he made it to the Last 16 at Ally Pally for the third time in four years.

Players Championship Finals runner-up Searle recovered from losing the opening set in a deciding leg to win the following two sets, before Noppert levelled the match at two sets apiece.

The Dutchman opened up a two-leg lead in what proved to be a pivotal fifth set, going on the miss the bull to win each of the following three legs as Searle came back to snatch it 3-2.

Noppert never recovered and Searle reeled off another three legs to close out a victory by four sets to two.

“This was the perfect time for me to get my first win over Danny, and luckily enough I managed to do it so I’m over the moon,” said Searle.

“At two-all I was fuming. I thought I should have been 3-1 ahead but I’m glad I kicked on from there and managed to turn it around.

“I’m looking forward to the next game. I feel very prepared this year. I’ve been practising with Gary Anderson who was my hero watching darts and he has helped me no end.”

Martijn Kleermaker’s dream debut continued as he fought off a Joe Cullen fightback to win 4-3 in a thriller.

Dutch star Kleermaker cruised into a three set lead but Cullen stormed back before eventually losing out in seventh set tie-break.

Kleermaker raced into a two-set lead as Cullen struggled to hit doubles, taking 11 attempts to finally convert.

That advantage became three sets when the Yorkshireman missed two darts to win the third set, allowing his opponent to pin double top.

Cullen raced through set four with three unanswered legs and survived a match dart in the fifth set, as he came back from 2-0 down to claim it with a 111 checkout.

The 13th seed then levelled the match after another three leg burst, but the deciding set reached a tiebreak at 2-2 and Kleermaker went on to win the two legs he needed – sealing a hard-fought victory with an 88 finish on the bull.

“I’m the happiest man in the world at this moment,” said Kleermaker, who will face James Wade in Round Four.

“That bullseye was the best bullseye I’ve hit in my life. He did a great job to get back in the match but I kept my focus.

“I know if I play my game I can beat them all.”

Mervyn King eased through to the Last 16 with a 4-0 whitewash of Steve Lennon in the opening game of the day.

King punished his Irish opponent for missing 32 darts at doubles from 37 attempts to set up a fourth round meeting with surprise package Raymond Smith, where he will be bidding to reach the quarter-finals for the second time in his long-spanning career.

The 55-year-old raced through the first three sets, taking each of them by three legs to one, before sealing set four in a deciding leg after Lennon had missed two darts to elongate the match.

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William Hill World Darts Championship 2021/22 Day 11 Results

Tuesday December 28

Third Round

Afternoon Session
Steve Lennon 0-4 Mervyn King
Ryan Searle 4-2 Danny Noppert
Joe Cullen 3-4 Martijn Kleermaker

Evening Session
Rob Cross 4-3 Daryl Gurney
Peter Wright 4-2 Damon Heta
Chris Dobey w/o Michael van Gerwen

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