Phil Taylor produced a mightily impressive performance to begin his assault for a 17th World Championship crown in style, as Alan Norris and Daryl Gurney also secured victories on a dramatic day four at the Alexandra Palace on Sunday evening.
Taylor dropped just two legs in beating DPA qualifier David Platt to set up a second-round clash with Kevin Painter, in a repeat of their iconic 2004 World Championship Final. Taylor was very impressive; averaging 101.93, hitting three maximums and converting 50% of his double attempts to kick off his campaign in fine fashion.
Earlier in the night, Platt had sealed his showdown with Taylor after securing an impressive straight sets triumph over John Bowles. Platt averaged 86.92, converted 43% of his double attempts and landed a stunning 156 checkout to seal victory against the PDPA qualifier.
However, he was left feeding off scraps against ‘The Power’. Taylor made a strong start to the contest, clinching the opening two legs in 15 and 14 darts respectively. The fourth seed then spurned two opportunities at double to clinch the set without reply, but Platt failed to take advantage and Taylor returned to pin D10 and seal the opener.
Taylor took out 62 to win his fourth straight leg and seize an early initiative in set two, but Platt opened his account by pinning D16 to complete a 47 kill. However, Taylor looked in confident mood and regained the lead with a 13-darter, before doubling his lead in sets by taking out a classy two-dart 86 finish to complete an 11-dart break of throw.
Platt won his second leg of the contest to claim an early lead in set three, but Taylor fired back with five perfect darts before hitting D7 to level up. The 16-time world champion then prevailed in a scrappy leg to move within one of victory, which he duly clinched with his third maximum and an 81 checkout to round-off an impressive display.
Alan Norris survived a massive scare as he came from 2-0 behind to defeat impressive Greek qualifier John Michael in an Ally Pally thriller. ‘Chuck’ endured a nightmare on the doubles in the early stages, but averaged 91.61 and hit four maximums to prevail, despite Michael converting three ton-plus finishes and hitting 58% of his double attempts.
Michael made a flying start to the contest to stun Norris. The Greek ace stormed into a 2-0 lead as Norris missed five darts at double, before firing in his first maximum and converting a stunning 141 checkout to clinch the set without reply.
The qualifier won his fourth straight leg with a classy 93 finish on the bull, before Norris finally opened his account on D1 with his thirteenth attempt at double. Norris again hit D1 to break, but Michael bounced back superbly with a fine two-dart 78 kill.
‘Chuck’ had a dart at tops to level up proceedings in the set decider but was again found wanting and the Greek number one punished this error; holding his nerve to find D5 with his last dart in hand to move a set away from a major upset.
Norris kicked off the set by pinning D9, but Michael levelled with a fine 80 finish. The Greek then missed one dart at tops for a 120 checkout which would have moved him to the cusp of victory, but he did convert a 103 finish to heap the pressure on the former Lakeside world finalist.
However, Norris managed to maintain his composure; just. After leaving 60 after just 9 darts, he endured another sequence of missed doubles, before eventually pinning D5 to clinch the set. This appeared to deflate Michael, and last year’s quarter-finalist secured an early break in set four with a quality 13-darter.
Norris posted an abject leg on his own throw but wasn’t punished by the 43-year-old, who had completely disintegrated. Norris hit tops to win his third straight leg, but Michael suddenly sparked back into life, posting maximums in successive legs to throw for the match, only to see Norris fire in a majestic 13-darter to break and force a final set.
Norris pinned tops to draw first blood in set five to lead for the first time, but Michael refused to relent and fired back with his third ton-plus checkout, taking out 106 to level. The 21st seed then regained the lead with a confident two-dart 48 kill, before capitalising on a poor leg from Michael by pinning D10 to complete the comeback.
After his dramatic comeback, Norris told Josh’s Dartistry: ” I’ve known for John for many years. This is his third or fourth time here, he’s a confident character; probably too confident for his ability, but tonight his ability came out and he played really well. I think people get too emotional about the game. I’ve done it time and time again; you just don’t give up in this game. “
Daryl Gurney sealed his spot in the second-round of the World Championship with an impressive 3-1 victory against quick-fire Dutchman Jermaine Wattimena. Gurney averaged 96.85 and landed five maximums to prevail, despite converting just 29% of his attempt at double.
Gurney cruised to the opening set without reply in one of the quickest sets of the tournament thus far. The Northern Irishman kicked off the match with a maximum, before eventually winning the leg on D1. Wattimena struggled for consistency and Gurney capitalised to clinch the set, despite missing eight darts at double himself.
Gurney converted a clinical 76 checkout to break the Dutchman in the opening leg of set two, before registering his fifth leg in succession by nailing D16. ‘SuperChin’ missed D18 for a 147 kill before squandering a further three darts at D9 as Wattimena won his first leg, but Gurney responded with his second maximum en route to doubling his lead.
Gurney’s dominance continued after the break as he cleaned up a 74 finish to hold throw, but Wattimena defied a third maximum from the 24th seed to draw level on D3. Out of nowhere, ‘The Machine Gun’ broke Gurney’s throw with a clinical 90 outshot, before capturing the third set on D10.
Gurney showed some rare vulnerability after missing three darts to break but the Northern Irish ace recovered to hit D16 and stay in contention. Gurney then punished an indifferent leg from Wattimena to pin D5 and move to the cusp of victory, which he subsequently sealed after overcoming double-trouble to pin tops at the fifth attempt.
After his victory, Gurney told Josh’s Dartistry: “I was trying to keep control of my own speed. Jermaine’s so fast he makes me look slow, and I’m a fast player. You can’t teach maturity. You can’t practise that; I think you’ve got to learn it through games.
Gurney could face ninth seed Robert Thornton in round-two, and he appears to be relishing the prospect, adding: Me and Robert; we know each-other from the BDO days. I owe him a couple, and if he get’s through, he’s going to get it. He’s going to get it!”
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
William Hill World Darts Championship
Evening Session (7pm)
John Bowles 0-2 David Platt (P)
Daryl Gurney (24) 3-1 Jermaine Wattimena
Alan Norris (21) 3-2 John Michael
Phil Taylor (4) 3-0 David Platt