Adrian Lewis marked a return to winning ways with a thrilling 6-5 success over Michael Smith on the opening night…
Adrian Lewis marked a return to winning ways with a thrilling 6-5 success over Michael Smith on the opening night of the Ladbrokes Masters in Milton Keynes on Friday.
Lewis bounced back from last month’s shock early exit at the World Championship with a vintage display to deny ‘Bully Boy’ in a last-leg decider at the Marshall Arena.
The two-time World Champion defied four ton-plus finishes from last year’s beaten finalist to set up a Second Round show-down with Gary Anderson on Saturday.
“I’ve put the work in so it’s nice to get a reward tonight,” said Lewis. “Michael is one of the best players I’ve ever seen so any win over him is massive.
“I think there was extra pressure on both of us having both lost in the first round at the World Championship.
“I really struggled last year. I’m not one of those players who can deal with months off and then get straight back into it.
“I know my ability and I believe in my ability. When I’ve got that mindset I know I can beat anybody.”
Smith landed a brace of magnificent 170 checkouts, as well as a 132 on the bull and a 150 finish, but it was ‘Jackpot’ who held his nerve to prevail with a 97 average and three 180s.
Meanwhile, Premier League champion Glen Durrant’s below-par run of results continued with a crushing 6-1 defeat at the hands of Mervyn King.
Former Masters runner-up King started 2021 as he ended 2020 with an impressive display which saw him average almost 102 and set up a meeting with Rob Cross.
“I didn’t play very well but I didn’t have to. I don’t like saying that because I like Glen and I don’t like to see him struggle,” said King.
“I’m not playing as well as I was before the World Championship. I’m having a hard time with a family bereavement at the moment, so I’m just keeping going.
“I play Rob next and he’s another really nice fellow who I get along with, so that will be another hard game for me.”
Joining Lewis and King in the Last 16 of the £220,000 tournament is Joe Cullen – who bounced back from heart-breaking defeat to Michael van Gerwen at Alexandra Palace with a 6-4 triumph over Stephen Bunting.
Cullen flew out of the traps, averaging over 115 after the opening five legs to lead 4-1.
Bunting, who was also averaging well in excess of 100, fought back to 4-3 behind, but Cullen did enough to get over the line and confirm a clash with newly-crowned World Champion Gerwyn Price.
“It was a weird one, I was 4-1 up and playing really well so I told myself ‘don’t defend the lead, keep on attacking’ but I did end up defending the lead,” said Cullen.
“I knew Stephen was playing really well which kept me under pressure throughout the game. I think I was lucky in the end to win tonight.
“Losing to Michael [van Gerwen] at the World Championship in the way I lost was a tough one to take but you go away, take stock and come back better for it.
“I’m looking forward to playing Gerwyn next. He’s on a high but maybe he will feel the pressure of playing as World Champion and world number one for the first time. We’ll see.”
Reigning champion Peter Wright will begin his title defence against Simon Whitlock after the Australian went some way to avenging his Ally Pally defeat to Krzysztof Ratajski with a 6-2 win over the Polish number one.
Michael van Gerwen will begin his quest for a sixth Ladbrokes Masters title against Jonny Clayton following the Welshman’s 6-5 win over Jose de Sousa which saw Clayton land a 130 checkout in the deciding leg.
Former Masters Champion James Wade will meet Chris Dobey in round two after Dobey’s emphatic 6-2 defeat of World Matchplay champion Dimitri Van den Bergh in the battle of the debutants.
Daryl Gurney came through a tight affair with Jeffrey de Zwaan, taking the last leg decider to book his place in the Second Round and keep his hopes alive of a Premier League selection.
Mensur Suljovic came through a scrappy contest with Ian White to prevail 6-3, punishing 23 missed darts at doubles from his opponent.
Ladbrokes Masters 2021 Results
Friday January 29
Ian White 3-6 Mensur Suljovic
Glen Durrant 1-6 Mervyn King
Dimitri Van den Bergh 2-6 Chris Dobey
Krzysztof Ratajski 2-6 Simon Whitlock
Michael Smith 5-6 Adrian Lewis
Daryl Gurney 6-5 Jeffrey de Zwaan
Jose de Sousa 5-6 Jonny Clayton
Joe Cullen 6-4 Stephen Bunting