Peter Wright began his World Championship campaign with a comprehensive straight sets victory over enigmatic Dutchman Jerry Hendriks, as former world champion Steve Beaton and debutant Jonny Clayton also booked their spots in round-two at the Alexandra Palace on Friday evening.
Wright produced the performance of the tournament thus far to dispatch Jerry Hendriks in the final match of Friday’s action. Snakebite averaged 101.06, converted 45% of his double attempts and conjured up 131 and 141 finishes to close out a 3-0 victory over the exuberant Dutchman nicknamed ‘Electric’.
Hendriks had secured his place in round-one with a straight sets preliminary-round victory over Kiwi veteran Warren Parry earlier in the evening. Hendriks snatched a tight opening set after following up a maximum by pinning D19, but only after Parry had missed D12 for a spectacular 141 checkout.
Parry appeared destined to level up the contest after taking out 102 and 67 finishes to steal a march in set two, but Hendriks stayed alive by pinning tops, before seizing back control by following up a magnificent 174 by hitting D10. The Dutchman then fired in his third maximum to prevail with a respectable 86.63 average and 46% on the doubles.
However, Hendriks faced a much tougher prospect against the world number three. Wright breezed to the opening set without reply; averaging 98.02, hitting three 140’s and converting three of his six double attempts as Hendriks was afforded just one dart at bullseye.
Nevertheless, the game suddenly came alive in set two. Hendriks opened his account with a stunning 156 finish, before Wright responded with a majestic 131 of his own. The Dutchman then fired in his first maximum and posted a 14-darter to regain the lead, before drama ensued in the fourth leg.
Hendriks spurned a golden opportunity after squandering four set darts, as Wright eventually cleaned up on D2 to hold throw. The preliminary qualifier had the advantage of throw in the deciding leg of the set, but Snakebite illustrated his class with a superb 141 outshot to extend his lead.
This inevitably deflated the Dutchman and Wright ruthlessly closed out victory with a whitewash in set three. The third seed posted consecutive 14-darters to move within a leg of victory, which he duly sealed after converting a 64 finish on D8 to round-off an extremely impressive performance.
Wright was in defiant mood after his victory. “Imagine me in a year’s time practicing with these darts; I’ll be even better, so it’s not my only chance. I’m disappointed because I wanted a 110 average, I just found the pitch on the first dart too high. Jamie Lewis is a fantastic player, he’s going to have a lovely Christmas, but I’m going to ruin his New Year. Sorry!”
Former world champion Steve Beaton survived a minor scare as he battled past an under-par Devon Petersen to book his place in round-two. Beaton averaged 88.55, hit the solitary maximum and converted 39% of his double attempts to record a 3-1 victory, as Petersen struggled with his rhythm throughout.
The 1996 Lakeside world champion cruised to the opening set without reply with Petersen averaging a miserly 75.25. ‘The Bronzed Adonis’ posted an early maximum and won the three legs in 16, 17 and 17 darts to seize the initiative.
However, the momentum shifted completely after the interval. Petersen opened his account on D12 before doubling his tally after Beaton missed five darts at tops to hold. The South African’s average was still languishing below 80, but he showed a glimpse of his quality with a clinical two-dart 100 finish to restore parity at one-set apiece.
‘The Spartan’ won his fourth leg on the spin by pinning D10 to break Beaton’s throw, but Steve halted his slide with a magnificent 124 checkout on the bull, before regaining the initiative with a classy 13-dart hold. Petersen held throw on tops to force a decider in set three, but Beaton held firm and converted a 73 kill for a 15-darter to move 2-1 ahead.
The charismatic South-African was becoming visibly frustrated with his indifferent performance and Beaton kept his cool to capitalise. The 52-year-old converted finishes of 51 and 84 to move to the cusp of victory, before sealing his progression on tops after Petersen spurned three darts at the same target in the preceding visit.
It was far from a vintage display, but Beaton was relieved to have banished some Ally Pally demons. “I played Devon three years ago and he beat me so that was in the back of my mind. I came out firing but then I eased off a little bit and let him back in, then before I know it I’m in trouble, but I managed to turn it around and get away with it.
“At the end of the day a win’s a win and I’m absolutely over the moon; I’m chuffed to bits. I’ve got twelve days off now and I’m going to really enjoy Christmas and then come back and beat Wadey if he gets through”, Beaton quipped.
Jonny Clayton enjoyed a dream Ally Pally debut as he dumped out 19th seed and fellow countryman Gerwyn Price 3-1. Clayton averaged 89.88 and registered three ton-plus finishes, as Price was punished for his indifferent 27% checkout success rate despite notching up four maximums.
‘The Iceman’ stole a scrappy opening set after his fellow countryman missed 14 darts at double. Clayton missed nine darts in the opening leg before closing it out in 25 darts, as Price levelled up on D5 after ‘The Ferret’ failed to take out 60. The next two legs both went with throw, before Clayton missed four set darts and Price gratefully pounced on D5.
However, the roles were reversed in the opening leg of set two. Price squandered four darts for an early hold and Clayton pounced with a clinical 66 checkout, before converting a 68 kill to extend his cushion.
Price stayed alive in the set on D2, before Clayton’s finishing woes resurfaced, as he missed five set darts on D6 and D3 respectively. Nevertheless on this occasion ‘The Ferret’ recovered the situation by converting a nerveless 116 checkout on tops to level up proceedings at one set apiece.
This reinvigorated Clayton, who took out a classy 120 finish to make it successive ton-plus checkouts, before closing out a 13-darter to continue his revival. Price posted his first maximum and took out 53 to remain in contention, but Clayton nailed D12 to win his second straight set.
The topsy-turvy nature of this tussle continued into set four as Price missed eight darts to hold as Clayton pounced on D16, before the world number 60 moved to within a leg of victory with a fine 108 outshot. Price hit tops to stay alive before posting his fourth maximum, but his Welsh counterpart held his nerve to hit D7 and seal his progression.
Clayton was delighted with the victory, but admitted that it was a struggle playing against a close friend. “We’ve got the same kind of banter being rugby boys; some people don’t understand it. He’s a good friend. I like Gezzy.
“I think it’s confidence on the stage. If you’re scoring well, obviously you relax, but if that first treble goes in, you just see what happens. I’ve had that first time experience on the big-stage, so I’m hoping it’s going to be that little bit easier next time,” the 42-year-old added.
Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
William Hill World Darts Championship
Friday December 16 (7pm)
Jerry Hendriks 2-0 Warren Parry (P)
Gerwyn Price (19) 1-3 Jonny Clayton
Steve Beaton (27) 3-1 Devon Petersen
Peter Wright (3) 3-0 Jerry Hendriks