The 2022 UK Open draws to a close in Minehead on Sunday as the final eight face off for the…
The 2022 UK Open draws to a close in Minehead on Sunday as the final eight face off for the right to be crowned the first major champion of the season.
Friday morning saw 158 players descend on the Butlins Minehead Resort, now just eight remain in the hunt for the £100,000 top prize.
With play having been held across eight stages during the first two days of the unique multi-board event, focus now shifts solely to the Main Stage, with the afternoon’s Quarter-Finals followed in the evening by the Semi-Finals and final.
The Last Eight line-up includes three Premier League stars, as well as five players appearing at this stage of the competition for the first time.
The opening tie of the day sees reigning UK Open champion James Wade take on 19-year-old Irish sensation Keane Barry.
Wade is bidding to become the fourth player to successfully defend this title as he bids for a fourth UK Open crown to move behind only Phil Taylor (5) in the roll of honour.
The 38-year-old has already climbed up to world number three as a result of his exploits this weekend and Michael van Gerwen’s early exit, and made a sensational return to the Main Stage by landing a nine-dart finish against Boris Krcmar in the Last 16 on Saturday night.
Barry, meanwhile, has enjoyed a landmark run to his first major Quarter-Final and is already guaranteed to climb at least 12 places to 54th in the Order of Merit as a result.
Making only his third appearance in the event, the teenage talent has dispatched David Evans, Jeffrey de Zwaan, Graham Hall, Niels Zonneveld and Ricky Evans en route to this stage and now faces the biggest match of his career to date.
Another emerging talent to have made the headlines this week is 18-year-old Sebastian Bialecki, and he takes to the Main Stage for the first time to face former World Cup finalist William O’Connor.
Bialecki has enjoyed a remarkable run to the final day of action having started out in Round One on Friday afternoon, defeating Matt Campbell, Joe Murnan, Keegan Brown, Ritchie Edhouse, Ian White and Ryan Searle all on the outer boards.
The Polish star, who qualified as one of the top four players from the 2021 European Development Tour, has become only the third non-Tour Card Holder to reach the Quarter-Finals of this prestigious event.
He now faces another formidable test against the unflappable Irishman – who also finds himself in uncharted territory after pulling off a sensational scalp of World Champion Peter Wright in the Last 16.
O’Connor, the world number 37, has also come through last-leg deciders against Connor Scutt and Stephen Bunting this weekend and is now eyeing a place in his first major ranking Semi-Final.
Another closely-matched tie between two first-time quarter-finalists sees world number 19 Danny Noppert take on new Australian number one Damon Heta.
Noppert, appearing in only his second tournament of the season after taking a break following the first of his first child, has powered his way into the Last Eight with a tournament average of 98, defeating Ryan Meikle, Devon Petersen and Dirk van Duijvenbode for the loss of only 13 legs.
The Dutch ace made the Semi-Finals of the Players Championship Finals here in 2018 and was also a semi-finalist in last year’s World Grand Prix.
Heta, on the other hand, has produced two terrific scalps on his way to the Quarter-Finals, defeating three-time champion Michael van Gerwen and reigning Premier League champion Jonny Clayton on a memorable Saturday for the 34-year-old.
The former Brisbane Masters champion and Players Championship event winner, who has leapfrogged Simon Whitlock to 23rd in the live Order of Merit, is now eyeing a place in his first PDC major ranking Semi-Final.
Arguably the best Quarter-Final comes last in the session as world number one Gerwyn Price faces two-time world finalist and fellow Premier League star Michael Smith.
Price is vying to claim his first UK Open title, having finished runner-up in 2017 and 2020, and faces the sub-plot of needing to reach the final in order to maintain the world number one spot.
Winner of the International Open title last weekend, ‘The Ice Man’ is enjoying a prolific spell of form, having also hit two nine-darters on his way to winning Night Three of the Premier League in Belfast.
The Welshman saw off Krzysztof Ratajski 10-5 in Round Four before being taken all the way to a deciding leg by Jamie Hughes, but was emphatic in thrashing Callan Rydz 10-3 with a 106 average in the Last 16.
Smith, who was beaten 6-3 by Price in the Quarter-Finals in Belfast, is looking to equal his best run in this competition, which came three years ago.
After his latest heartbreak in the World Championship final in January, ‘Bully Boy’ continues to chase down that elusive maiden major title, and is riding high after landing a magical nine-darter in his 10-9 win over Mensur Suljovic on Stage Two last night.
An open draw will be conducted live on stage for the evening’s Semi-Finals following the conclusion of the Quarter-Finals.
The action gets under way from 12.45pm GMT, with Quarter-Final ties to be contested over the best of 19 legs and Semi-Finals and final best of 21.
UK Open 2022 Day Three Schedule of Play
Sunday March 6
Afternoon Session (12.45pm-5pm)
Keane Barry v James Wade
Sebastian Bialecki v William O’Connor
Danny Noppert v Damon Heta
Michael Smith v Gerwyn Price
Evening Session (7pm-11pm)