Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton set up an all-Welsh clash at the 2021 World Matchplay with opening-night wins in Blackpool,…
Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton set up an all-Welsh clash at the 2021 World Matchplay with opening-night wins in Blackpool, as Dimitri van den Bergh got his title defence off and running.
The World Cup-winning duo will now collide on Tuesday night after breaking their respective losing streaks as the World Matchplay returned to the Winter Gardens.
World Champion Price had not won in the event since 2016, but recovered from 2-0 down to defeat Jermaine Wattimena 10-4, finishing 132, 108 and 127 as he surged clear in the latter stages.
Premier League champion Clayton, meanwhile, erased the memory of three previous first round exits by claiming a maiden win in the event with a 10-7 defeat of another Dutchman – Dirk van Duijvenbode.
“Jonny’s a great friend of mine but I know if I play my A-game then it doesn’t matter who I play,” said Price. “The only enemy I’ve got up there at the moment is myself.
“I just concentrate on my own game and if I play well, then I definitely win. I haven’t played much this year and coming into this I’m not very confident.”
“I started off really slowly and had to fight my way back into the game. I hit some big doubles but I was nowhere near how I can play.
“I know where I’ve gone wrong in the past but I’m here to win it. If I can win this, the rest of the year is looking good.”
Clayton settled the better against Van Duijvenbode by opening up a 3-1 lead, only for the debutant to hit back as he followed up a 164 finish in taking a 5-4 lead.
Clayton then won four legs in a row to pull clear, and maintained that advantage to progress to the last 16 for the first time in the event.
“My confidence is massive and I’m flying high,” said Clayton. “I know my game is there but I still had that little monkey on my back, and hopefully I can go on and win it now.
“Dirk is a very good darts player and he wasn’t going to back down because I’m the Premier League champion. I held my nerve and got over that winning line.”
Looking ahead to his tie with Price, Clayton added: “I’m here to win that trophy. I don’t care if he’s world number one, when we go on that stage we’re enemies.
“We’re there to do a job and I’m here to pick a trophy up. I’m not here to make up the numbers.”
Reigning champion Van den Bergh opened the night with a special reception as he lifted the Phil Taylor Trophy on stage ahead of play beginning, and he concluded the action with a 10-5 defeat of Devon Petersen.
With both players making their Winter Gardens debuts, it was Van den Bergh who held his nerve the best, winning five straight legs from 2-1 down to pull away from the South African.
“I had goosebumps tonight,” admitted Van den Bergh. “To lift the trophy was an amazing feeling and I loved it, but I still had to do my business later and I did that.
“Devon wasn’t as strong as he can be and at the end of the game I showed what I’m capable of.
“I need to take the positives from today but also learn from the negatives. It was a big lesson for me.”
Van den Bergh’s win sets up a second round tie on Tuesday against Dave Chisnall, who enjoyed his first World Matchplay win since 2018 as he overcame Vincent van der Voort 10-8 in the tournament opener.
Van der Voort led 2-1 early on, but Chisnall took out 124, 161 and 100 as he moved into a 5-3 advantage, defying a 129 combination from the Dutchman.
Chisnall also led 7-5 before Van der Voort levelled after 16 legs in a tight contest, but the five-time quarter-finalist took out 76 to break the deadlock and double ten to seal victory.
“It was amazing to be back in front of fans, absolutely brilliant, and we want that feeling,” said Chisnall. “It was nice to have them back and to win.
“I was feeling good today. The 161 gave me a lot of confidence but it was a nip and tuck game all the way through.”
The Betfred World Matchplay continues on Sunday with a double session of First Round action at the Winter Gardens.
Betfred World Matchplay 2021 Results
Saturday July 17
Dave Chisnall 10-8 Vincent van der Voort
Jonny Clayton 10-7 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Gerwyn Price 10-4 Jermaine Wattimena
Dimitri Van den Bergh 10-5 Devon Petersen