Noppert celebrates a landmark win (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)
Danny Noppert subjected 2017 World Grand Prix champion Daryl Gurney to a shock First Round exit on Monday, while Rob Cross registered his first win at the third attempt in Dublin.
Gurney, who claimed his first major title at the Citywest Hotel two years ago, became the first seeded casualty of this year’s competition as he bowed out in straight sets to Dutch ace Noppert.
Reigning Players Champion Gurney, making the short trip from Northern Ireland, took a 2-1 lead in the first set but paid the price for missing five set darts across the next two legs as Noppert capitalised, before the Dutchman took the second set without reply to seal victory
“It feels good,” said Noppert. “Daryl missed a lot of doubles and I took my chances, and to win against a top ten player is brilliant for me.
“I’m over the moon with this win and it means a lot to me. I’m in the tournament now and looking forward to Wednesday evening.”
World Matchplay champion Cross had failed to win a set in his previous two appearances at the Citywest Convention Centre, losing out 2-0 to Steve Beaton in 2017 and 2018.
However, the number two seed laid those demons to rest with a three-set victory over world number nine Mensur Suljovic in a tasty first round contest.
The first two sets were shared as Cross won the opener 3-1 before his Austrian rival levelled without reply, but the Hastings ace came from a leg down to win the decider 3-1 as he moved into round two.
“I never seem to relax here so I’m just grateful to win,” said Cross. “Mensur wasn’t at his best and maybe we showed each other too much respect, but I’ve practised hard and I was confident.
“The longer format in the next round is better because it’s cut-throat in the first round, and if I can relax the fans might see a bit more of me.”
Cross now meets Glen Durrant, who enjoyed a winning debut in Dublin after overturning a one-set deficit to defeat form horse Krzysztof Ratajski 2-1.
Gibraltar Trophy winner Ratajski had produced the best set of the tournament so far with three 15-dart legs to move ahead, landing checkouts of 109 and 103 as he took the early advantage.
However, Durrant traded 13-darters with the Polish number one as he took the second set 3-1, before repeating the scoreline in set three to secure victory, finishing 98 to book his last 16 place with six from nine on his finishing doubles.
“Krzysztof has been playing so well recently so I’m delighted to win,” said the reigning Lakeside Champion. “I’m pleased to be through but it didn’t feel pretty and I’ve got a lot to work on.
“I have to work on my scoring, but my doubles were a positive.”
UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall dropped just one leg as he swept past Vincent van der Voort to enjoy a winning World Grand Prix debut.
Aspinall’s progression into the world’s top 16 helped to secure his place in the double-start event for the first time, but it was his superb finishing which proved critical as he took out six doubles from eight attempts.
He won the opening set without reply, including the first ‘whitewash’ leg of this year’s event in the third, firing in a 12-darter as the Dutchman missed nine starting doubles.
Aspinall also took the opening two legs of set two, with Van der Voort getting off the mark in the third before tops sealed victory for the Stockport ace.
“It was a good win,” said Aspinall. “My starting was good and I hit the doubles at the crucial times. I’m happy to win on my debut and it couldn’t have gone much better.”
Dave Chisnall edged out Gerwyn Price in a deciding leg as the 2013 finalist produced a fine comeback from a set down to move into the Last 16.
Price produced finishes of 76 and 128 before defying an 11-darter from Chisnall to take the opening set in a decider, only for the Morecambe ace to race through the second without reply.
The third set was finely poised as the pair traded breaks of throw before the game progressed to a sudden-death leg, but Price missed nine starting doubles to allow Chisnall in, with a 99 checkout knocking out the sixth seed.
“I’m very happy with that,” said Chisnall. “It was tough for both of us and I had to battle, but I got the job done in the end.
“At two-all in the last set, it could have been anyone’s game and luckily I got off to a good start and punished him. I was tight on my doubles today and that won me the game.”
Stephen Bunting sealed a place in the last 16 with a straight sets victory over Jonny Clayton, punishing the Welsh ace for 24 missed doubles across the contest.
Bunting, a former semi-finalist, raced through the field set without reply, before a 96 finish and a 13-darter helped him to move 2-1 up in leg three.
Clayton followed an earlier 115 checkout with double 16 to level, but missed four darts to take the set in the deciding leg as Bunting returned on double 18 to complete the win.
“I wasn’t at my best but it was enough and I’m glad to be through,” said Bunting. “I felt great in practice and coming into the match, and I can build on this.
“Jonny struggled on his doubles and I took the chances that he gave me, but I’ll be better in the next round.
“I’ve had some success here by reaching the semi-finals before and I love the format. This is one event where I’ve got a good chance if I can hit my starting doubles and score like I can.”
2018 finalist Peter Wright began his challenge to go one better this time around with a 2-0 defeat of Max Hopp.
German youngster Hopp opened with a 14-darter, but Wright hit back to win the first set in a deciding leg before taking the second by a 3-1 scoreline to set up a second round meeting with Jermaine Wattimena.
“It’s a good win for me because it’s always tough in the first round, so I’m happy,” said Wright. “The performance could have been better, but I’m through and that’s all that matters.”
Wattimena came from a set down to overcome Adrian Lewis 2-1 as the Dutchman moved into Round Two for a second successive year.
A strong start for Lewis saw him win set one by a 3-1 scoreline, and he twice levelled in set two to move a leg away from victory at two-all, only for double 16 to give Wattimena the set.
The Dutchman then finished 88 as he led in the third, before taking the next two legs to complete his fightback.
“I think that’s my biggest win on stage,” said Wattimena. “Everyone knows what Adrian’s done in his career and he’s an amazing player.
“Winning the second set gave me a lot of confidence. I’d struggled at the beginning but I fought back well.”
Noppert stuns Gurney in World Grand Prix opener as Cross breaks Dublin duck
Danny Noppert subjected 2017 World Grand Prix champion Daryl Gurney to a shock First Round exit on Monday, while Rob…
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