Gary Anderson and Adrian Lewis stormed into the last 16 of the World Championship with impressive whitewash victories, whilst Darren Webster produced the performance of the tournament thus far to dispatch former world finalist Simon Whitlock 4-0 at the Alexandra Palace on Friday evening.
Defending champion Gary Anderson remains on course for a third successive world title after easing past Andrew Gilding in straight sets. ‘The Flying Scotsman’ was in ominous form; averaging 102.58, landing six maximums and hitting 43% of his attempts at double, as Gilding was afforded a mere five darts at double.
Anderson kicked off proceedings with a 64 finish, but Gilding delivered an instant riposte by taking out 109. However, ‘The Flying Scotsman’ was in confident mood and won the next two legs to seal the opener with a 101.8 average.
The world champion was guilty of profligacy in the opening leg of set two as Gilding escaped via tops. Nevertheless, the Scot’s response was emphatic. He fired straight back with a 134 checkout, before breaking ‘Goldfinger’ in 13 darts. Anderson then continued his dominance; registering five perfect darts to double his lead on D10.
Anderson drew first blood in set three after pinning D10, but Gilding levelled the set with a confident 13-darter. Despite this, the world number two upped the ante to establish an almost unassailable 3-0 cushion, by following up a clinical 14-darter with a 62 kill.
The world champion secured his third successive leg on D2, before moving to the cusp of victory with a sensational 132 checkout (Bull, Bull, D16). Gilding prolonged the contest by converting D8 after Anderson spurned two match darts, but there was no heroic fightback on this occasion, as Ando took out 92 for an 11-darter and a comprehensive triumph.
Anderson told Josh’s Dartistry: “Andrew is one of the best floor players on the circuit and he just never got going at all. Everyone else has had one match, but they were guaranteed a good Christmas; I wasn’t guaranteed a good Christmas so it doesn’t help. I’m still in it; I’ve still got a chance. Benito will fancy his chances, but so do I; so we’ll see what happens.”
Darren Webster produced an astonishing display to whitewash Simon Whitlock in one of the greatest performances ever seen on the Ally Pally stage. ‘The Demolition Man’ lived up to his nickname as he averaged 104.64, landed eight maximums and converted 60% of his doubles to dispatch ‘The Wizard’, who averaged 99.50 himself.
Webster won a very high-quality opening set which saw him average 108.81. Whitlock won a scrappy opener, before Webster landed his first maximum to level in 14 darts. ‘The Wizard’ hit his second 180 to regain the lead in 13 darts, but Webster defied the Aussie’s third maximum by pinning D4, before firing in a stunning 11-dart leg against the darts.
Whitlock fired in his fourth maximum after the interval, but he missed two darts to break as Webster held with a fine 80 kill. The Aussie hit back on D4, but Webster secured a precious 15-dart hold after the pair had exchanged maximums, before doubling his lead in sets with a nerveless 13-darter.
The pair traded maximums in the opening leg of set three as Webster converted a two-dart 89 kill for an 11-darter. He followed this up with a 13-dart hold and although Whitlock stayed alive with a 65 kill, the Norwich ace registered a superb visit of 177 before taking out a clinical 112 checkout for a 12-darter and a commanding 3-0 cushion.
‘The Wizard’ was stunned by Webster’s magical display and the world number 35 continued his brilliance by registering another 11-darter; this time by virtue of converting an effortless 82 kill. The next three legs all went with throw as Whitlock fought to prolong the contest, but Webster sealed victory in style with a sensational 140 finish.
Webster was understandably thrilled with his performance, but he told Josh’s Dartistry that he’s still got more left in the tank. “On the television that’s the performance of my career 100%, but on the floor no.
“I’ve played a lot better than that on the floor; I’ve averaged 120 or 125. The highlight of my career was beating Phil 6-0 on the floor; he was averaging 122 and I was 4-0 up. I don’t fear anyone. I’ll just get up throw my darts, and if they get in front, I’ll grit my teeth and bite their ankles,” Webster quipped.
Elsewhere, Adrian Lewis breezed through to the last 16 with an emphatic whitewash victory against Joe Cullen in the final match of Friday’s double session. The two-time world champion averaged 102.65, hit five maximums and hit 44% of his attempts at double to maintain his record of having yet to drop a set in this tournament.
Lewis averaged almost 108 to clinch the opening set in impressive fashion. All five legs went with throw but the two-time world champion appeared in fine fettle; registering two 11-dart legs to seal the early initiative.
‘Jackpot’ maintained his excellent form after the break; pinning D9 to break Cullen’s throw, before defying a 174 from ‘The Rockstar’ to convert a 62 finish on tops to double his lead. The Stoke-on-Trent star was looking wonderfully smooth and doubled his advantage in some style; with a majestic 161 finish on the bullseye.
Lewis continued his magnificent form by following up his third maximum with a 111 checkout for a 12-darter, but Cullen stopped the rot with a fine two-dart 69 kill to level the set. However, there was no stopping the world number five, who fired in a classy 11-darter to reassume control, before wrapping up the set on D16.
Lewis continued his procession to round-three by breaking ‘The Rockstar’ in the opening stages of set four, but Cullen broke straight back with a 103 finish after Lewis squandered four darts at double. Nevertheless, Jackpot broke for a third straight leg on D9, before completing a mightily impressive triumph on D16.
Lewis spoke to Josh’s Dartistry after his victory and was in bullish mood. “This is the tournament where if you can’t get ready for this; you shouldn’t be playing darts. There’s plenty more in the tank; it was good, solid but it felt more like 102 or 103 average rather than a 107 when I was reeling off those sets. It was a good game; solid.”
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
William Hill World Darts Championship
Evening Session (7pm)
Darren Webster 4-0 Simon Whitlock (17)
Gary Anderson (2) 4-0 Andrew Gilding
Adrian Lewis (5) 4-0 Joe Cullen (28)