Michael van Gerwen began the defence of his World Matchplay title with a thumping whitewash victory over Jamie Caven, whilst Dave Chisnall, Robert Thornton and Kyle Anderson all won through on the opening night at the Winter Gardens.
Van Gerwen was in magnificent form as he despatched Jamie Caven 10-0. Jabba didn’t perform anywhere near to his potential, averaging a miserly 79. He only had four attempts at double in the entire contest; all of which came in the second leg.
However, ‘The Green Machine’ was in merciless form. He averaged 105.85, hitting four maximums and converting 50% of his attempts at double. The world number one will face Kyle Anderson in the last 16, after ‘The Original’ eased past 16th seed Vincent van der Voort 10-4.
It was a relatively scrappy affair, with van der Voort averaging 89.99 compared to Anderson’s 92.34. The encounter was evenly poised at 5-4, as Van der Voort reeled off successive legs to close in on the Australian. However, Anderson won five straight legs to secure his first ever victory at the World Matchplay.
Elsewhere, Robert Thornton also ended his Winter Gardens hoodoo with a hard-fought 10-7 victory over debutant Josh Payne. Thornton had suffered six successive first-round exits prior to this year, but he finally claimed his first victory in Blackpool against the 22-year-old.
‘The Thorn’ 4-2, but Payne claimed three legs on the bounce with finishes of 99, 84 and 118. Nevertheless, the World Grand-Prix champion responded with three consecutive legs of his own, which culminated with a majestic 10-darter as he stormed 7-5 ahead.
Payne took out 68 to reduce the arrears to 8-7 and bring the contest back on throw, but Thornton was not to be denied on this occasion. He converted a crucial 87 finish to move to the brink of victory, before nailing D18 to seal his first ever Matchplay win, which sparked jubilant celebrations from the Scot.
Thornton will meet three-time major finalist Dave Chisnall in the second-round, after the St Helen’s star also prevailed 10-7 against the emerging Dutchman Benito van de Pas. Van de Pas came into this tournament having won two Players Championship events this year, but he was unable to overcome Chizzy, who averaged 94.37 to seal his progression.
Chisnall led 7-5 and appeared in control, but ‘Big Ben’ hit tops to reduce the arrears, before restoring parity with a sublime 135 checkout, culminating on the bull. The Dutchman had the momentum, but Chizzy showed impressive character and capitalised on missed doubles from his opponent to win the remaining three legs and seal victory.
BetVictor World Matchplay Schedule of Play
Saturday July 16
Vincent van der Voort 4-10 Kyle Anderson
Robert Thornton 10-7 Josh Payne
Michael van Gerwen 10-0 Jamie Caven
Dave Chisnall 10-7 Benito van de Pas