Stephen Bunting saw off Nathan Aspinall on the opening night of the 2023 World Grand Prix in Leicester on Monday,…
Stephen Bunting saw off Nathan Aspinall on the opening night of the 2023 World Grand Prix in Leicester on Monday, as a host of big names bowed out.
Last year’s runner-up Aspinall and eighth seed Rob Cross were both denied in dramatic last-leg deciders at the hands of Bunting and Andrew Gilding respectively, as the double-start event got underway at the Morningside Arena.
Bunting, a two-time World Grand Prix semi-finalist, produced a strong deciding leg against the World Matchplay champion and continue his impressive run of form.
“Neither of us were at our best tonight but when you get through like that you don’t really look at the performance,” said Bunting.
“It was a very nervous game all the way through. I started really well but in the second set I lost a bit of composure.
“I was praying that I hit my starting double first dart in the decider; thankfully I did and now I’m looking forward to the next round.
“I think I’m playing the darts of my life at the moment so I’m full of confidence.”
Bunting’s second round assignment will see him take on Martin Schindler, after the German number two enjoyed a first World Grand Prix win over two-time runner-up Raymond van Barneveld.
UK Open champion Gilding overcame a slow start to claim a first World Grand Prix victory in nine years and make it a fifth first round exit in seven outings for Cross.
Gilding’s victory sees him set up a round two meeting with Gary Anderson, as the resurgent Scot impressed in a 2-1 victory over Jose de Sousa, recovering from a set down.
“It was a hard one, that’s the best I’ve seen Jose play for a while,” admitted Anderson.
“I’ve got a lot of time for Jose, we spent a lot of time practicing together the last time we were both in the Premier League and I know how good he can be.
“I don’t put any pressure on myself anymore, I’m just enjoying playing darts right now and I’ll see where it takes me.”
Former champion Gerwyn Price defeated world number nine Danny Noppert in straight sets, and the 2020 champion will now face Krzysztof Ratajski – who came from behind to knock out two-time winner James Wade.
Michael Smith produced the performance of the night, averaging 96 in a straight sets defeat of Callan Rydz, and the top seed will now face 2011 runner-up Brendan Dolan, who took the scalp of Dirk van Duijvenbode in the opening game of the night.
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Boylesports World Grand Prix 2023 Day One Results
Monday October 2
Dirk van Duijvenbode 1-2 Brendan Dolan
Jose de Sousa 1-2 Gary Anderson
Krzysztof Ratajski 2-1 James Wade
Martin Schindler 2-1 Raymond van Barneveld
Nathan Aspinall 1-2 Stephen Bunting
Gerwyn Price 2-0 Danny Noppert
Michael Smith 2-0 Callan Rydz
Rob Cross 1-2 Andrew Gilding
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