It’s crunch time at the 2020 UK Open as 32 players are whittled down to just eight on ‘moving day’…
It’s crunch time at the 2020 UK Open as 32 players are whittled down to just eight on ‘moving day’ in Minehead.
The most frenetic day on the darting calendar saw 159 players start out on the road to Ladbrokes UK Open glory on Friday, but by the end of play, 127 had headed for home.
The unique open draw format threw together a number of big names, guaranteeing early exits for some, while others crashed out at the hands of lower-ranked opposition.
Michael van Gerwen avenged last month’s Premier League defeat to Nathan Aspinall by ending The Asp’s reign as UK Open champion with a high quality Fourth Round victory.
The world number one is bidding for a third UK Open title and a first PDC ranking title of the season and steps up his pursuit with a clash against in-form outsider Jason Lowe.
Lowe, who gained a Tour Card at Qualifying School in January, pulled off a stunning 10-4 rout of 2014 UK Open champion Adrian Lewis in Round Four and now faces undoubtedly the biggest test of his career to date.
The Main Stage action also features a show-down between Premier League stars Rob Cross and Michael Smith in a repeat of last year’s World Matchplay final.
Cross has won the last five meetings between the two players, but it’s Smith who enters the tie in superior form, having won three consecutive Premier League games and swept aside James Wilson 10-4 on Friday.
Chris Dobey was involved in the match of the tournament so far on Stage Two last night and aims to transfer his red hot form onto the Main Stage when he faces Simon Whitlock.
Dobey landed eleven 180s, averaged 105 and took out 91 on the bullseye in the deciding leg to deny Krzysztof Ratajski in an epic and is now looking to equal his best-ever run in this competition.
Whitlock, quarter-finalist in 2017, pulled off an impressive opening win over Jeffrey de Zwaan on the outer boards and is set for another tough task against one of the sport’s biggest emerging stars.
Peter Wright, whose first major title came in this event three years ago, continues his quest for a third televised title of 2020 with a crunch clash against Ian White.
Wright came through an enthralling battle with fellow Premier League star Glen Durrant 10-8 on Friday and has been handed another formidable draw against another granite opponent.
White, twice a UK Open quarter-finalist, saw off Harry Ward 10-6 in his opener and is incredibly looking to make it six consecutive wins over the Stoke star.
Stage Two sees Grand Slam champion Gerwyn Price, the 2017 runner-up, take on former European Tour finalist Ricky Evans.
Price averaged 104 in a 10-3 rout of Danny Noppert on the Main Stage on Friday, while Evans swept aside Joe Murnan 10-4 but knows he must build on his match average of 92.6 if he is to threaten an upset.
Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland’s top darters collide as recent Premier League Challenger William O’Connor faces Daryl Gurney.
O’Connor stormed into a 7-0 lead over Dave Chisnall before eventually stumbling over the line 10-8, while Gurney was pushed all the way to a last-leg decider by Keegan Brown.
James Wade, one of only three players to have lifted this trophy on more than one occasion, takes on resurgent Belgian Kim Huybrechts.
Gary Anderson, the 2018 champion, aims to end the hopes of Plymouth’s Simon Stevenson – who enjoyed a superb run to the Quarter-Finals here 12 months ago.
Kyle McKinstry, who defeated Fallon Sherrock in Round One, is the only non Tour Card holder left standing in the competition and now faces a battle with German ace Martin Schindler on Stage Three.
Schindler’s fellow countryman Gabriel Clemens looks to continue his run under the radar by overcoming Stoke’s Andy Boulton on Stage Four.
Mensur Suljovic, twice a UK Open quarter-finalist, faces a tough assignment against a red hot Dirk van Duijvenbode – who saw off Jermaine Wattimena in the last four and was a quarter-finalist on the European Tour last weekend.
Former Players Championship Finals runner-up Jonny Clayton takes on European Tour event winner Joe Cullen in another closely-matched encounter.
The action gets underway from 12.30pm, with Fifth Round and Last 16 matches to be contested over the best of 19 legs.
The draw for the Last 16 will be conducted on the Main Stage immediately following the conclusion of the Fourth Round ties.
Ladbrokes UK Open 2020 Match Schedule
Saturday March 7
Afternoon Session (12.30pm-5pm)
Simon Whitlock v Chris Dobey
Jason Lowe v Michael van Gerwen
Peter Wright v Ian White
Rob Cross v Michael Smith
William O’Connor v Daryl Gurney
Gerwyn Price v Ricky Evans
James Wade v Kim Huybrechts
Gary Anderson v Simon Stevenson
Jonny Clayton v Joe Cullen
Dirk van Duijvenbode v Mensur Suljovic
Stephen Bunting v Alan Tabern
Matthew Edgar v Dimitri Van den Bergh
Martin Atkins v Jamie Hughes
Jelle Klaasen v Steve West
Kyle McKinstry v Martin Schindler
Andy Boulton v Gabriel Clemens
Evening Session (7pm-11pm)
Last 16 matches (TBC)