The Dutch duo of Raymond van Barneveld and Jelle Klaasen were dumped out in round-one of the World Matchplay at the Winter Gardens on Monday evening. However elsewhere, Phil Taylor began his quest for a 16th Matchplay title with a hard-fought win over Robbie Green, whilst Michael Smith saw off Simon Whitlock.
On a night of upsets, Phil Taylor survived a scare against Robbie Green, who was making his first Matchplay appearance since 2004. ‘The Power’ averaged 98.72 and fired in six maximums, to set up a last 16 clash against Mensur Suljovic.
Green made an electric start, winning the opening two legs and missing D10 for a 128 checkout in the third. However Taylor rallied, winning five of the next six legs to establish a 5-3 advantage. Yet surprisingly, the 55-year-old endured double-trouble in the following legs, enabling ‘Kong’ to restore parity at 5-5.
Taylor was seething over his misses, but he responded impressively after the break. He broke throw instantly with an excellent 118 checkout, before regaining his two-leg cushion with a clinical 70 finish. Green continued to battle valiantly, recording seven maximums in total, but Taylor sealed a narrow victory with a 65 finish on tops.
Five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld was dumped out in round-one in Blackpool for the second successive year, after losing 10-7 to Brendan Dolan. Dolan had endured a winless streak of 12 months on the televised stage, but he produced a clinical display to defeat the Dutchman, hitting an impressive 56% on the doubles.
Van Barneveld averaged 92.79 compared to Dolan’s 90.68, but Barney’s 37% on the doubles ultimately cost him. There was only the solitary break of throw in the entire contest, as Dolan took out finishes of 61, 62, 64, 104 and 105 to seal a memorable victory and set up a second-round clash against Mervyn King.
Elsewhere, tenth seed Jelle Klaasen also suffered a surprise exit at the hands of the veteran Steve Beaton, who rolled back the years to defeat the in-form Dutchman. ‘The Adonis’ made a brilliant start to the contest, racing into a 4-1 lead at the first interval.
Klaasen responded strongly after the break, reducing the arrears to 4-3 with legs of 11 and 14 darts. However, ‘The Cobra’ spurned darts at D14 and D7 to level, and Beaton took full advantage to regain his two leg cushion.
Beaton opened up a four-leg cushion at 8-4, but the 2006 Lakeside champion delivered an instant riposte, registering successive legs to reduce the deficit to 8-6. Despite this, Beaton maintained his composure superbly, taking out 61 to move 9-6 ahead, before clinching victory with a magnificent 11-darter on his own throw.
In the final match of the first-round, eighth seed Michael Smith won six of the final eight legs to dump out former Matchplay semi-finalist Simon Whitlock. Both men struggled in the early stages, but Smith grew into the contest and finished with an impressive average in excess of 97.
Whitlock opened up with a maximum en-route to a 13-darter in the opening leg, before missing an incredible ten darts to extend his advantage, as Smith eventually levelled on D1. However, ‘The Wizard’ was unperturbed and headed into the break with a slender 3-2 cushion.
Smith won back-to-back legs after emerging from the break with renewed vigour, but Whitlock levelled up proceedings at 4-4 with a clinical 105 finish on D16. However, Smith responded magnificently, winning four straight legs to seize command of the tie.
Whitlock stopped the rot with a 62 kill, but ‘Bully-Boy’ moved to the cusp of victory with a clinical 88 finish, after the Aussie had fired in his fourth maximum. Whitlock kept his hopes alive with a 13-darter, but after Simon squandered three darts to reduce the arrears to 9-7, Smith stepped in to pin D5 to seal his second-round berth.
BetVictor World Matchplay
Monday July 18
Jelle Klaasen 6-10 Steve Beaton
Raymond van Barneveld 7-10 Brendan Dolan
Phil Taylor 10-8 Robbie Green
Michael Smith 10-6 Simon Whitlock