Adrian Lewis began his assault for a third World Title with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over two-time Lakeside semi-finalist Jan Dekker, whilst Jelle Klaasen produced the performance of the tournament thus far in dismantling Joe Cullen on the final night of round-one action at the Alexandra Palace, on Wednesday evening.
Lewis averaged 99.35 in defeating the former BDO man, but Klaasen stole the show, averaging 103.92 and hitting 50% of his doubles against an unfortunate Cullen, who acquitted himself well for the vast majority of the encounter.
Klaasen cruised to the opening set, winning it without reply. Cullen struggled for fluency, hitting just one score of 140 or better. Jelle capitalised on this, posting his first maximum and averaging 94 to establish an early lead.
The second set was an extremely high-quality affair. Cullen claimed a 2-1 lead in the set with a classy 14-darter, but he was unable to restore parity, as ‘The Cobra’ produced some majestic darts.
The 2006 Lakeside Champion forced a fifth and deciding leg with a sensational 11-darter, before replicating this standard in the following leg. Jelle posted back-to-back maximums, before converting D18 for a 12-darter and a 2-0 cushion.
This visibly deflated Cullen and Klaasen continued to sustain his phenomenal run of form. He opened his account in set three with D4, before producing a magnificent 11-darter with a clinical 81 checkout. He refused to relinquish control, sealing a fine victory with an assured 15-darter.
Two-Time World Champion Adrian Lewis also impressed on Wednesday evening at the Ally Pally. Dekker has pedigree on the big-stage, so Jackpot deserves credit for perfoming well and averting a potential upset.
Lewis came from behind impressively to win a closely-contested first set. Dekker produced two terrific ton-plus checkouts, taking out 108 and 107 to close in on the opening set.
Yet, Jackpot showed his class; breaking back instantly with a majestic 11-darter, having hit 6 perfect darts. Lewis dominated the fifth and decisive leg of the set, taking out D5 with Dekker well adrift on 238.
The Two-Time World Champion maintained this momentum after the break; he posted a fine 14-darter to break the 25-year-old Dutchman, before hitting his third maximum en route to a comfortable hold. Dekker hit D16 to stay in touch, but an assured 15-darter from Lewis saw him close to within a set of victory.
Dekker continued his proficient finishing to storm into a 2-0 advantage in set three. After breaking Lewis, he took out an excellent 114, his third ton-plus of the match.
However, after Jackpot found himself in adversity once more, he responded superbly. Adrian hit back-to-back 13 darters to restore parity in the set, before clinching his emphatic triumph with a sensational 164 checkout on the bull.
Dekker hit 5/6 on the doubles, a ratio of 83%; but he simply wasn’t allowed many opportunities due to being completely outscored by Lewis, who hit 10 140’s and 6 180’s. Adrian was very satisfied by his ability to deliver the goods when really necessary.
Lewis claimed: “That’s what you’ve got to do these days; with the class these players are showing at the minute, if you don’t perform, you’ll be out. But as I’ve said, I’ve been practising really hard; I know what I’ve got in the locker, and I know there’s more to come.”
The 30-year-old won the title at Ally Pally in both 2011 and 2012, whilst he’s also hit two 9-darters in this event. He puts this down to one simple factor. “It’s the biggest tournament, simple as that. A lot of people bottle it under pressure, but I’m one of those players who thrive under that pressure.”
Adrian maintained that he’s confident of winning his third World title in 2016. “Coming into this tournament, I’ve been saying to Keith Deller, my manager, that I’m feeling as good as I ever have. I reached a quarter, two semis and a final in the last four tournaments, and I’m building on that. The confidence is there, because I’ve been putting the work in.”
Elsewhere, Andrew Gilding eased into the second round of the World Championships with a comprehensive straight sets victory over Gerwyn Price. Although Gilding was the seeded player, the Welshman was favourite with the bookmakers, but ‘The Iceman’ was way below-par, averaging just 84 and winning three legs.
The match began in explosive fashion. After Price squandered three darts at double, Gilding produced a stunning 132 finish (Bull, Bull, D16) to edge ahead. He doubled his lead with a fine 13-dart hold, before Price opened his account courtesy of D20. However, ‘Goldfinger’ clinched the set, by converting a clinical 96 checkout.
Gilding continued his fine finishing in the early stages of the second set, taking out a tremendous 118 to win the opening leg. Price levelled up the set after the 28th seed squandered five darts at double, nevertheless ‘Goldfinger’ regained his poise, winning two successive legs to extend his advantage to 2-0.
Gilding, who reached the UK Open semi-finals in March, moved to the cusp of victory with consecutive 13-darters in the opening stages of set three, although Price preserved his hopes by hitting D20. Nevertheless, this simply delayed the inevitable, as ‘Goldfinger’ took out 70 to seal a routine progression to round-two.
Gilding admitted he was surprised by the comfortable margin of victory. “I couldn’t have got a much tougher draw to be honest. Sometimes we have bad nights. Gerwyn just had a bad night tonight.”
The 45-year-old from Bungay claimed that his run to the UK Open semi-finals in March has strengthened his belief on the big-stage. “Yeah it’s given me a lot of confidence; because now I’ve proved I can produce big ton-plus averages, even against the World Number 1 and a World Champion.”
Finally, in the battle of the youngsters, Benito Van de Pas defeated current World-Youth Champion Max Hopp 3-1 in an intriguing tussle. Hopp controlled the scoring stakes, but profligacy on the doubles cost him dearly.
Van de Pas clinched a high-quality first set. The Dutchman broke throw in the opening leg after posting an early 180, before extending his lead by taking out 54. Hopp opened his account in the third leg, but missed two darts to break back in the fourth. Despite being outscored, Benito exploited Hopp’s wastefulness, by pinning D16 to clinch the opening set.
Benito secured the early initiative in the second set, with a confident 82 checkout. However, Hopp responded magnificently with a stunning 11-darter.
The pair then missed a multitude of doubles in the third leg, but van de Pas eventually snatched it via D2. Hopp levelled the set despite narrowly missing D20 for a 160 checkout, but the Dutch ace extended his lead to 2-0 with a fine 15-dart hold.
Van de Pas, seeded 24th for this event, kicked off the third set in fine style, with a confident two-dart 75 finish. He followed this up by pinning D4 to move to the verge of victory. However, Hopp showed tremendous character to produce an unlikely comeback. He hit his third maximum en route to reeling off three successive legs to reduce the arrears to 2-1.
Benito responded impressively at the beginning of set four, taking out 108 on the bull, but Hopp pinned D6 with his final dart to level the set. The 22-year-old Dutchman reclaimed the lead after pinning D5 at his fifth attempt, before finally confirming his progression by hitting D20, but only after Hopp had missed two darts to force a fifth and deciding leg.
This contest was the perfect illustration of the maxim: ‘Trebles for show, doubles for dough’. Hopp hit nearly twice as many 140’s as van de Pas, and twice as many 180’s. Nevertheless, his 25% checkout ratio ultimately cost him, as van de Pas demonstrated more conviction in the decisive moments.
Speaking exclusively to Josh’s Dartistry, van de Pas expressed his delight at his performances throughout 2015. “I’m really happy with my year, but 2015 is still not finished, so I’ve got more work to do and I hope to go further in this tournament.
I’m playing really well on the floor; I’m 12th on the Pro Tour rankings, so I hope to stay there over the next few months so I can compete on the European Tour. The European events are really important for me, as they help me progress on the stage,” he added.
Benito admitted he was relishing the prospect of taking on another youngster, Dimitri van den Bergh, in round-two. “Dimitri is a good friend of mine and I’m really looking forward to that game. I want to improve my average from today; for my feeling I played really well, but I only had an 88 average.”
William Hill World Darts Championship
Wednesday December 23 (7pm-11pm)
Andrew Gilding 3-0 Gerwyn Price
Benito van de Pas 3-1 Max Hopp
Adrian Lewis 3-0 Jan Dekker
Jelle Klaasen 3-0 Joe Cullen