Dutch debutant Danny Noppert produced the performance of the tournament thus far to set up a second-round tie with his compatriot Richard Veenstra, whilst Wesley Harms and women’s top seed Deta Hedman suffered shock first-round exits on a dramatic session of darts at the Lakeside Country Club on Tuesday afternoon.
Noppert enjoyed a dream Lakeside debut by posting the highest average of the tournament thus far in defeating Canadian qualifier David Cameron in round-one. The Dutchman endured early nerves on the doubles, but recovered superbly and recorded a 3-1 victory after averaging 98.07 and landing six maximums.
Noppert reeled off three successive legs in 15 darts or under to recover from a torrid start in the opening set. Cameron secured the lead with a 15-dart break via D10, before extending his lead on D2 after ‘Noppie’ followed up his first maximum with ten missed darts at double.
Nevertheless, the Dutchman won his first leg with his twelfth attempt at double; registering his second 180 and converting a 68 finish on tops. This galvanised the third seed, as he fired in his third maximum and completed a 12-dart leg with a clinical 81 kill on D16, before hitting D4 to round-off a 65 checkout and seal the set inside 15 darts.
The pair exchanged holds on D10 and D5 early in set two, before ‘Excalibur’ produced a quality leg; taking out 57 for a 14-dart hold. The pair then traded maximums as Noppert pegged tops to force a set decider and heap the pressure on Cameron, but the Canadian held his nerve superbly; levelling up the contest with a clinical 118 outshot.
‘Noppie’ drew first blood in set three after following up his fifth maximum with a 17-dart hold. However, Cameron produced a sensational 164 outshot for a 12-dart leveller, before punishing missed doubles from the Lakeside debutant to break on D2.
The Canadian had the momentum, but Noppert displayed impressive resolve; converting a clinical 117 finish for an immediate break back. The 26-year-old had the darts to throw for a 2-1 advantage and he made no mistake on this occasion, regaining the lead by hitting D8 for a classy 13-darter.
Noppert was growing in confidence as the contest progressed and recorded his second straight 13-darter via D18 to seize control of the fourth set. The third seed then crashed in a majestic 116 checkout, having landed his sixth maximum in the preceding visit, before he sealed his emphatic progression with a 14-dart leg culminating on tops.
Noppert will face his fellow Dutchman Richard Veenstra in the second-round, after last year’s semi-finalist produced four ton-plus finishes to defeat former Zuiderduin Masters winner Ross Montgomery in an entertaining tussle. Veenstra averaged 91.48, landed three maximums and converted 44% of his double attempts to defeat the experienced Scot.
Veenstra made an imperious start to clinch the first set with a ton-plus average. The pair traded maximums in the opening leg, before Veenstra crashed in a stunning 127 on the bull for a 12-dart break.
The Dutchman then doubled his lead after following his second maximum with a 68 kill, and although Montgomery opened his account via D5, it was to no avail. Veenstra was oozing confidence and sealed the opening set with a magnificent 144 finish to round-off a 15-darter.
The second set was equally entertaining. Veenstra continued his clinical combination finishing to draw first blood with an 80 finish, before Montgomery eventually drew level on D2 after ‘Flyers’ missed three darts at double to break.
The Scot exploited this reprieve by landing his second maximum and converting tops for a 13-dart break, but Veenstra responded magnificently. The Dutchman took out 301 in 6 darts after following his third maximum with a 121 on the bullseye, yet he spurned three set darts in the decider, as ‘Ross The Boss’ hit his third 180 and pegged D4 to level.
The fourteenth seed emerged from the interval in ominous form. He secured an early break of throw by taking out a classy 120 finish; his fourth ton-plus checkout of the contest. He extended his lead by dispatching an 80 outshot, before sealing the third set on D8 for a 13-darter, to finish the set with an average of almost 105!
Veenstra pegged tops to round-off a 16-dart hold for his fourth straight leg, before moving to the cusp of victory with a regulation 48 checkout. However, Montgomery displayed brave resistance; posting successive 14-dart legs to heap the pressure on Veenstra.
The Dutchman spurned two match darts at D16 to hand the 54-year-old a lifeline but Montgomery failed to capitalise; squandering three darts at D18 and D9 respectively which would have forced a fifth and final set. However, Veenstra didn’t spurn another opportunity, nailing D2 with his last dart in hand to truimph.
Krzysztof Ratajski caused a major upset as he whitewashed ninth seed Wesley Harms to reach the second-round of the World Championship for the very first time. The 41-year-old averaged 84.15, landed a solitary maximum and converted 50% of his double attempts to condemn the two-time Lakeside semi-finalist to a surprise early exit.
Ratajski punished a sluggish start from the ninth seed to clinch the early initiative. The Polish star kicked off proceedings with his first-maximum followed by a sensational 11-dart leg. The next three legs all went with throw; albeit in scrappy fashion, to force a set decider which Ratajski clinched on D8 after Harms missed two darts at D18.
Ratajski kicked off the second set by converting a 96 finish for a 15-dart dart break, before extending his cushion on tops after Harms inexplicably bust 120. ‘Sparky’ stayed afloat after overcoming double trouble to finally pin D1, but the preliminary qualifier was unfazed and doubled his lead in sets with a clinical 14-darter via D16.
The 41-year-old continued his dominance early in set three, winning a scrappy opening leg on D16, before punishing a further three missed doubles from Harms to close in on victory.
‘Sparky’ displayed some resistance however. He gained an instant break back with a 13-darter on tops to save the match, before forcing a set decider after completing a 16-dart hold via D8. The Dutchman then had the opportunity to prolong the contest but missed two darts for an 80 kill, as Ratajski sealed a memorable triumph by taking out 48.
Casey Gallagher reeled off six consecutive legs to dump out top seed Deta Hedman and cause a huge shock in the first round of the women’s section. Hedman missed seven match darts for a straight sets triumph over her protege, as the 20-year-old fought back to secure her first ever World Championship victory in dramatic fashion.
The first set was a real high-quality affair. Hedman kicked off proceedings with a classy 13-darter on tops, before Gallagher squared the set with a 17-darter via D5. Gallagher then fired in her first maximum and wired the bull for a 73 kill as she searched for a break, but Hedman produced a superb 114 checkout to regain the initiative.
The 20-year-old was outscoring Hedman and almost followed up a 140 with a ton-plus checkout, but she wired tops for a 103 outshot. However, she returned to pin D10 to force a set decider. Hedman had the advantage of throw and that paid dividends, as she converted a clinical two-dart 88 kill to win the set, with Casey sat poised on D19.
The second set was a far more nervous affair. ‘The Dark Destroyer’ established a two-leg lead in the set, after Gallagher missed opportunities in both legs. However, the youngster responded strongly, completing an unconventional 72 finish on D1 to stay afloat.
Hedman, who won an astonishing 18 ranking titles in 2016, appeared poised to complete a routine triumph in the fourth leg, but missed seven match darts and Gallagher profited to post D10 and keep the match alive. The former Swedish Open winner then followed up a 140 with a clinical 117 finish for a 15-darter to force a final set.
The 56-year-old had lost her conviction in the finishing department and Gallagher capitalised on Deta missing two darts at double in each of the opening two legs of the set to move within a leg of victory. The 20-year-old saw the finishing line in sight and landed her second maximum before posting D7 to seal the biggest victory of her career.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Tuesday January 10
First Round (best of five sets)
Afternoon session (12.30-1600)
TV Coverage: Channel 4
Danny Noppert (3) 3-1 David Cameron
Richard Veenstra (14) 3-1 Ross Montgomery
Deta Hedman (1) 1-2 Casey Gallagher
Wesley Harms (9) 0-3 Krzysztof Ratajski