Simon Whitlock pulled off a sensational rout of Michael van Gerwen in the Last 16 of the 2020 World Matchplay…
Simon Whitlock pulled off a sensational rout of Michael van Gerwen in the Last 16 of the 2020 World Matchplay on Tuesday, thrashing the world number one 11-4 to end a four-year winless run.
Whitlock had endured 15 consecutive defeats to Van Gerwen dating back to 2016, but ended the drought emphatically with a dominant display at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.
Van Gerwen, the 2015 and 2016 Betfred World Matchplay champion, crashed out prior to the Quarter-Final stage for the third consecutive year, averaging just 90 on a night to forget.
“I’m over the moon with that, but I always believe I can beat the best,” said Whitlock.
“Michael is the best player on the planet but he had an off-day today and I took advantage of it.
“I just put Michael out of the picture and pretended I was playing local darts.
“I believed in myself and that’s the only way to do it. If you play the player you will put yourself in trouble.
“Experience counts for that, and along with a love for the game, that’s what keeps us older players going.”
Van Gerwen, who follows world number three Gerwyn Price and reigning champion Rob Cross in suffering a shock early exit, got off to the worst possible start, losing the opening five legs.
A rampant Whitlock shrugged off any hopes of an MVG revival, punishing his 20 missed darts at doubles from 24 attempts.
With the three-time World Champion unable to mount a fightback, Whitlock pinned double nine to seal a crushing victory and a place in the Last Eight – where Gary Anderson now awaits.
Anderson secured an 11-8 victory over James Wade in the battle of the former World Matchplay champions.
Anderson, the 2018 champion, is now the only player left in the field to have previous lifted the Phil Taylor Trophy.
He Scot threw nine 180s and twice threatened a nine-dart finish by opening the ninth and tenth legs with six perfect darts.
From 3-2 down, Anderson won seven of the next eight legs to move into a commanding 9-4 lead, taking advantage of some uncharacteristic missed double attempts from Wade.
A hat-trick of legs saw Wade fight back to trail 9-7, but Anderson twice found his favourite double top to end hopes of a fightback.
“Tonight was a continuation of how my game has been going recently, some good and some bad,” admitted Anderson.
“One minute my throw is fine, the next minute it’s all over the place and I’m not quite sure why.
“I found it fine playing the online darts during lock-down, but I’m still finding this very weird playing in front of no fans.
“But, even though I’m not too happy with how I’m playing, I’ve got that winning feeling so hopefully I can keep it going.”
Michael Smith, the 2019 runner-up, became the first player to progress to the Quarter-Finals, coming through a dramatic tie-break with Mensur Suljovic to prevail 14-12.
Smith fired in ten 180s as he recovered from deficits of 8-5 and 9-6 to take Suljovic to a second tie-break in as many matches.
The opening four legs of the tie-break were shared, with neither player crafting out a match dart, before Smith struck a vital break of throw to go 13-12 up.
After Suljovic spurned three double attempts to break straight back, Smith landed a timely 110 checkout to seal a Quarter-Final meeting with Krzysztof Ratajski.
“I wasn’t ready to go home tonight, I had to fight really hard for my place in the tournament,” said Smith.
“I’ve showed over the last year or so that I have got the fight to stick in games and come out on top.
“People associate me getting annoyed with myself as a sign that I’m ‘giving up’ but it’s not at all, it’s me trying to get myself going.
“I often boss games with my scoring but tonight I wasn’t scoring well so I had to make up for it with good finishing, which isn’t what I’m known for, but tonight I made the most of my chances.”
Polish number one Ratajski battled his way to a 12-10 victory over Germany’s Gabriel Clemens in the final match of the night.
Clemens, who dethroned Cross in round one, hit nine 180s but trailed from the first leg of the match until the 18th, when a crucial break of throw saw him tie up the contest at 9-9.
The German number two then hit the front with an 85 finish to hit the front for the first time, only for Ratajski to win a trio of legs to book his place in the quarter-finals on his second World Matchplay appearance.
The night also saw the First Round draw to a close as debutant Dimitri Van den Bergh pulled off a surprise 10-5 defeat of world number six Nathan Aspinall.
A hat-trick of 13-darters from Van den Bergh helped him take a firm grip on the tie to lead 6-2, before finishes of 103 and a stunning 156 kept the lead out of Aspinall’s reach.
Unable to mount a comeback, Aspinall was condemned to back-to-back first round defeats in his first two World Matchplay outings, as Van den Bergh avenged his World Championship Quarter-Final loss in December.
“Winning against a player like Nathan is a great job, I’m very proud of myself,” said Van den Bergh, who will meet Joe Cullen in Round Two.
“Seeing Nathan achieve what he has over the last couple of years makes you focus on yourself and gives you belief that you can get there as well.
“I miss the fans and I miss their support, but even still I feel at home on the stage. I just feel so relaxed up there.
“If I perform for the rest of the tournament how I know I can it doesn’t matter who I play.”
Betfred World Matchplay 2020 Results
Tuesday July 21
1x First Round, 4x Second Round Matches
Dimitri Van den Bergh 10-5 Nathan Aspinall (R1)
Michael Smith 14-12 Mensur Suljovic
Gary Anderson 11-8 James Wade
Simon Whitlock 11-4 Michael van Gerwen
Krzysztof Ratajski 12-10 Gabriel Clemens