Wade celebrates a nail-biting victory (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)
James Wade fought back from the brink to deny Jeffrey de Zwaan in a sudden death leg in Round One of the 2019 World Matchplay on Sunday, as Glen Durrant marked his Blackpool debut with a commanding win over Adrian Lewis.
An action-packed double-header at the Winter Gardens witnessed eight pulsating ties as a further three seeds departed the prestigious major at the first hurdle.
Wade, the 2007 champion, looked to be heading for the Empress Ballroom exit door, only to survive five match darts in three separate legs from the Dutchman and hold his nerve in a nail-biting shoot-out.
De Zwaan, last year’s semi-finalist, had opened up a 9-6 lead, but only for Wade to dig deep and level the tie at nine-all after three missed match darts from his opponent.
The left-hander then moved in front for the first time since the opening leg, but a missed match dart in leg 22 allowed De Zwaan to restore parity.
An 11-dart break of throw for De Zwaan saw him regain the upper-hand but only for the Dutchman to then miss two more match darts at tops as Wade forced a decider – which he secured with an 80 checkout.
“I’m so excited to be through,” said Wade. “I should have got it over sooner but I stuck in there and did the job.
“I’m happy to win but not happy with how I played, so it’s a relief.”
Durrant, the reigning and three-time BDO World Champion, enjoyed a dream debut on the iconic Winter Gardens stage as he powered past Lewis 10-4 to set up a Second Round show-down with Michael van Gerwen.
The Middlesbrough marksman won eight of the first ten legs in a dominant start, and held off Lewis’ brief rally to end the tie with a 101 average – the highest winning average of the tournament so far.
“I’m really happy now and it’s a special feeling,” said Durrant. “I came to the PDC because I wanted to play the best in the world and I’m a huge fan of Adrian Lewis.
“It was a magical feeling tonight and I had great support from the crowd – I hope that they’re back here on Tuesday when I play Michael too!
“It’s a great opportunity to showcase my talent – I’m a proud BDO champion and on Tuesday I will play the best player in the world.”
PDC World Champion Van Gerwen progressed safely to the last 16 at the Winter Gardens with a 10-6 defeat of Steve Beaton.
However, the world number one missed 27 darts at a double during the contest, and after seeing Beaton hit back from 4-0 down to trail just 5-4 the Dutchman eventually pulled clear for victory.
“I feel good but my doubles can be better,” said Van Gerwen “I was poor on my doubles but sometimes this happens and I have to move on.
“I’m still in the tournament and I won the game but I could have played a lot better than this. My level is quite high and I always put a lot of pressure on myself.
“You have to accept that you’re not a robot but I put all my time into this game so that I can perform, and when I don’t perform it hurts. I think I want it too much.”
Mensur Suljovic, last year’s beaten finalist, raced past Jermaine Wattimena for the loss of just one leg to book his spot in the last 16.
Suljovic claimed the opening three legs without reply, landing a 14-darter to break in leg two, and after the Dutchman responded briefly in leg four with double 16 the Austrian pulled clear.
Suljovic took out 80 to break again in leg six, landing six perfect darts in leg eight and finished 70 for a 9-1 lead before posting double 18 to complete a one-sided win.
“I’m feeling good,” said Suljovic. “It’s a very hard game against Jermaine but I was focused tonight. Jermaine is a very nice player, but he wasn’t himself.
“Last year was very nice for me and this year I just wanted to win the first round. This is the best crowd and I have a lot of respect for them.”
German youngster Max Hopp was another tie-break winner as he came from 7-4 down to defeat Dave Chisnall 11-9 and progress to round two in Blackpool for the first time.
A tight opening to the contest saw Hopp take out 128 on his way to a 3-2 lead only for Chisnall to land six perfect darts in one of two 11-darters as he moved 7-4 up.
Hopp, though, pounced on three misses from Chisnall with a key 96 finish in a run of four straight legs as he edged 8-7 up, before holding his nerve on a 100 checkout to level at nine-all to force a tie-break.
He then made Chisnall pay for six misses to move 10-9 up, and when the five-time quarter-finalist missed double ten in the next the former World Youth Champion landed double five to seal the win.
“It was a thriller and a really difficult game to win,” said Hopp. “I knew it was going to be tough today but I took my chances.
“In parts today I averaged well over 100, I fought back into the game and I’m glad to win 11-9 in the end.
“It’s in the top five wins for me; the Winter Gardens is an amazing venue and I can’t wait for Tuesday – I’m excited to be in the next round.
“I’m still 22 but I’m more mature now. The nerves are settling now on stage and I think I can go far.”
Hopp will now meet Michael Smith, who came from 6-3 down to defeat debutant Jamie Hughes in a high-quality first round tie.
Hughes opened with a nerve-settling 12-darter and led 4-1 before a 128 checkout for a 12-darter saw him move into a 6-3 cushion against the World Championship finalist.
Smith landed legs of 11 and 12 darts to inspired a run of five straight legs as he powered into an 8-6 lead, and though Hughes briefly responded, checkouts of 120 and 130 sealed the number five seed’s second round spot.
“I’m happy to win that,” said Smith. “My throw doesn’t feel good but I was pleased with how I played in the second half of the game.
“At 4-1 down I had to fire and when I got it back to six-all I had to put the pressure on Jamie. The 120 was a big shot and the 130 was a nice way to win it.
“This tournament has never been good to me, so I want to get to the quarter-finals this year to finally get past the second round stage.”
Ian White secured the first whitewash at the World Matchplay since 2016 with a 10-0 romp against Joe Cullen, with the Bradford ace unable to recapture the form which saw him reach last year’s quarter-finals.
White, a two-time European Tour winner this year, opened with an 11-dart leg which featured two 180s, and also twice punished Cullen’s missed doubles on the way to a 5-0 lead.
He also took out a 121 finish in leg seven, and capitalised on seven further misses from Cullen in the next two legs before taking out 80 to complete a comfortable win.
“I didn’t expect this result but you take it and it feels good to be through,” said White, who now faces Stephen Bunting on Wednesday.
“Joe let me in there in three or four legs but I still had to take my doubles out and I played well.
“It’s a strong field and you knew any draw was going to be hard because it’s a strong field, but the European Tour has given me a lot of confidence this year.”
Krzysztof Ratajski enjoyed a winning World Matchpay debut, defeating Darren Webster 10-5 in Sunday’s opening tie.
Polish number one Ratajski settled the better to open up a 3-1 lead before Webster hit back to level at three-all with a 105 checkout.
The next four legs were traded before Ratajski edged 6-5 up on double 16 and then punished three misses from Webster to open up a two-leg advantage.
The four-time ranking event winner then pulled clear with the next three legs to set up a second round tie with Rob Cross on Wednesday.
“It’s a great moment and I’m really happy that I won,” said Ratajski. “To win my first match is big for me and I hope I can play better in the next round because I was very nervous today.
“The venue is amazing, the most beautiful I’ve played in. It’s a big tournament so to win on this stage is great.”
Betfred World Matchplay 2019 Results
Sunday July 21
Darren Webster 5-10 Krzysztof Ratajski
Dave Chisnall 9-11 Max Hopp
Ian White 10-0 Joe Cullen
Michael Smith 10-7 Jamie Hughes
James Wade 13-12 Jeffrey De Zwaan
Mensur Suljovic 10-1 Jermaine Wattimena
Michael van Gerwen 10-6 Steve Beaton
Adrian Lewis 4-10 Glen Durrant