Players Championship Nine Report!

Van Gerwen Thornton

World number one Michael van Gerwen landed a magical nine-dart finish to defeat a resurgent Robert Thornton and clinch his second Players Championship title of the year at the Robin Park Tennis Centre in Wigan on Saturday afternoon.

Van Gerwen followed up his victory at Players Championship Six four weeks ago by scooping the £10,000 winner’s cheque in Wigan; producing a series of magnificent displays which culminated in victory over Thornton- who was appearing in his first PDC final since beating MvG at the World Grand Prix in October 2015.

Thornton opened up the final with a maximum, but Van Gerwen drew first blood after converting a clinical 96 kill for an 11-dart hold. Thornton then levelled on D18, after MvG wired the bull for a 127 outshot; the Dutchman regained the lead moments later, crashing in his first maximum en route to registering another 11-darter.

Van Gerwen then landed a sublime 171 to pressure Thornton, but the Scot was unperturbed; levelling up the tie for a second time after dispatching an 84 checkout to complete an assured 14-dart hold. Nevertheless, with ‘The Thorn’ threatening to make inroads into Van Gerwen’s throw, the world champion enjoyed a blistering surge.

‘The Green Machine’ found D8 to edge ahead again, before securing the first break of throw in sensational style; following up visits of 180 and 177 by conjuring up a stunning 144 finish to complete a magnificent nine-dart finish.

There was little Thornton could do to thwart Van Gerwen and the 28-year-old maintained his relentless scoring power to triumph in emphatic fashion. ‘Mighty Mike’ pinned D8 for a 13-darter to move to the cusp of victory, before he clinched the title with another fabulous 13-darter after pegging D20.

Van Gerwen threw magnificently throughout the day and dropped just one leg in his opening two matches; following up a first-round whitewash of Chris Quantock with a thumping 6-1 win over Paul Nicholson. ‘Mighty Mike’ then confirmed his spot in the last 16 with a hard-fought victory over Wayne Jones, to set up a tie with Gary Anderson.

The world’s top two players contested an absolutely thrilling affair, with Van Gerwen recovering from 4-3 down after rolling off three consecutive legs in 34 darts, to prevail with a 114.05 average, compared to Anderson’s 110.48.

‘The Green Machine’ then faced another two-time world champion Adrian Lewis in the last eight, in a repeat of their Premier League clash in Birmingham on Thursday. Van Gerwen triumphed 7-0 on that occasion, although today was a far tighter affair, as MvG landed a brilliant 11-darter to prevail in a last-leg thriller with a 109.01 average.

In the last four, Van Gerwen faced his fellow countryman Jan Dekker, who defeated Andy Jenkins, Joe Cullen, Peter Hudson, Joe Murnan and Dave Chisnall to reach his first ever PDC Pro Tour semi-final. However, Van Gerwen averaged 103.66 to thrash Dekker 6-0, with the former BDO star failing to register a single dart at double.

After his stunning victory, Van Gerwen admitted: “I played phenomenal and I’m a very happy man. The nine-darter was great and I had an incredible day. I did it game after game, not only in a one-off game, and I want to do it again tomorrow. I played really well today and I hope I can continue this good performance because I want to win more titles.”

“I’m doing well and things like this keep me motivated. It’s difficult to win constantly but I love what I do that makes it a little bit easier. Robert did really well and I’m really pleased for him, but I’m really glad I won this tournament because I think I deserved it today,” the Dutchman added.

However, whilst Van Gerwen will inevitably gain the plaudits, it was a terrific return to form for Thornton, who performed impressively to reach his first Pro Tour final in over two years. ‘The Thorn’ kicked off his campaign with a fine 6-2 win against Steve Lennon, before claiming a hard-fought victory over former Challenge Tour star Ryan Searle.

The Scot then recorded his second straight 6-4 win- this time against John Bowles, before easing past Andrew Gilding to reach the quarter-finals, where he survived a scare to dump out Belgian youngster Mike De Decker- who was appearing in his first senior PDC quarter-final.

In the last four, Thornton faced Robbie Green, who was appearing in his first ranking semi-final for just over a year. ‘Kong’ dumped out Darren Johnson, Mensur Suljovic, Justin Pipe, Richie Corner and Jonathan Worsley to reach the semis, but Thornton ultimately proved an obstacle too far for the Merseyside star.

However, there were a number of early big-name casualties in Wigan. Fourth seed Simon Whitlock suffered a shock 6-4 opening-round defeat to the veteran Matt Clark, whilst last weekend’s German Darts Open finalist Benito van de Pas lost out to Richard North by the same score-line.

Elsewhere, eighth seed Kim Huybrechts was beaten at the same stage after surrendering a 4-2 advantage against the ever-improving Rob Cross, whilst Players Championship One winner, Alan Norris, was comfortably beaten by emerging youngster Ted Evetts.

World number three Peter Wright was condemned to a shock second-round exit against Paul Rowley, whilst eight-time major winner James Wade was dismantled at the same stage by former Rugby League star John Bowles. Elsewhere, third seed Mensur Suljovic was also beaten in the last 64, by eventual semi-finalist Robbie Green.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Players Championship Nine
Saturday April 29, Robin Park Tennis Centre, Wigan
First Round
Michael van Gerwen (1) 6-0 Chris Quantock
Paul Nicholson 6-2 Richie Burnett
Mark Walsh 6-2 Josh Payne (32)
Wayne Jones 6-3 Ross Smith
Gary Anderson (16) 6-3 John Henderson
William O’Connor 6-3 Jeffrey de Graaf
Cristo Reyes (17) 6-1 Ricky Williams
Robert Owen 6-3 Jermaine Wattimena
Rob Cross 6-5 Kim Huybrechts (8)
Jamie Lewis 6-2 Zoran Lerchbacher
Kevin Painter 6-4 Christian Kist (25)
Jonny Clayton 6-0 Jamie Caven
Gerwyn Price (9) 6-1 Sven Groen
Stephen Burton 6-3 Prakash Jiwa
Adrian Lewis (24) 6-1 Dennis Smith
Simon Preston 6-1 Bryan De Hoog
Dave Chisnall (5) 6-4 Jim Walker
Warrick Scheffer 6-4 Mickey Mansell
Darren Webster (28) 6-0 Lee Bryant
Ron Meulenkamp 6-4 Matthew Dennant
Ian White (12) 6-4 Vincent Kamphuis
Scott Darbyshire 6-3 Shaun Griffiths
Kyle Anderson (21) 6-1 Ricky Evans
Terry Temple 6-2 Jimmy Hendriks
Matt Clark 6-4 Simon Whitlock (4)
Ronnie Baxter 6-2 Steve Hine
Berry van Peer 6-4 Ronny Huybrechts (29)
Joe Murnan 6-5 Mark Webster
Joe Cullen (13) 6-5 Jim Brown
Jan Dekker 6-4 Andy Jenkins
Steve West (20) 6-3 Max Hopp
Peter Hudson 6-3 Devon Petersen
Peter Wright (2) 6-3 Keegan Brown
Paul Rowley 6-4 Brendan Dolan
Ritchie Edhouse 6-3 Vincent van der Voort (31)
Simon Stevenson 6-1 Wes Newton
Daryl Gurney (15) 6-3 John Michael
Ryan Palmer 6-3 Mick McGowan
Alan Tabern 6-1 Stephen Bunting (18)
Mike De Decker 6-0 Brian Woods
James Wade (7) 6-2 Rob Hewson
John Bowles 6-4 Craig Gilchrist
Robert Thornton (26) 6-2 Steve Lennon
Ryan Searle 6-2 Martin Schindler
Jelle Klaasen (12) 6-4 Madars Razma
Andrew Gilding 6-5 Mick Todd
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-5 James Wilson (23)
Mark Barilli 6-0 Yordi Meeuwisse
Richard North 6-4 Benito van de Pas (6)
Jonathan Worsley 6-3 Jeffrey de Zwaan
Peter Jacques 6-5 Chris Dobey (27)
Andy Hamilton 6-5 Andy Boulton
Ted Evetts 6-3 Alan Norris (11)
Paul Harvey 6-2 Ray Campbell
James Richardson 6-4 Steve Beaton (22)
Aden Kirk 6-4 Tony Newell
Mensur Suljovic (3) 6-5 Adam Hunt
Robbie Green 6-1 Darren Johnson
Justin Pipe (30) 6-3 Jamie Bain
Scott Taylor 6-5 Kirk Shepherd
Michael Smith (14) 6-2 Ryan Meikle
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-5 David Pallett
Mervyn King (19) 6-2 Harry Robinson
Richie Corner 6-1 Ross Twell

Second Round
Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Paul Nicholson
Wayne Jones 6-2 Mark Walsh
Gary Anderson 6-0 William O’Connor
Cristo Reyes 6-2 Robert Owen
Rob Cross 6-5 Jamie Lewis
Jonny Clayton 6-3 Kevin Painter
Gerwyn Price 6-2 Stephen Burton
Adrian Lewis 6-1 Simon Preston
Dave Chisnall 6-2 Warrick Scheffer
Darren Webster 6-0 Ron Meulenkamp
Ian White 6-1 Scott Darbyshire
Kyle Anderson 6-1 Terry Temple
Matt Clark 6-4 Ronnie Baxter
Joe Murnan 6-3 Berry van Peer
Jan Dekker 6-2 Joe Cullen
Peter Hudson 6-4 Steve West
Paul Rowley 6-4 Peter Wright
Ritchie Edhouse 6-4 Simon Stevenson
Daryl Gurney 6-1 Ryan Palmer
Mike De Decker 6-0 Alan Tabern
John Bowles 6-1 James Wade
Robert Thornton 6-4 Ryan Searle
Andrew Gilding 6-3 Jelle Klaasen
Mark Barilli 6-2 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Jonathan Worsley 6-5 Richard North
Peter Jacques 6-5 Andy Hamilton
Ted Evetts 6-2 Paul Harvey
James Richardson 6-2 Aden Kirk
Robbie Green 6-4 Mensur Suljovic
Justin Pipe 6-3 Scott Taylor
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-5 Michael Smith
Richie Corner 6-3 Mervyn King

Third Round
Michael van Gerwen 6-4 Wayne Jones
Gary Anderson 6-3 Cristo Reyes
Jonny Clayton 6-5 Rob Cross
Adrian Lewis 6-4 Gerwyn Price
Dave Chisnall 6-4 Darren Webster
Ian White 6-3 Kyle Anderson
Joe Murnan 6-3 Matt Clark
Jan Dekker 6-3 Peter Hudson
Ritchie Edhouse 6-2 Paul Rowley
Mike De Decker 6-4 Daryl Gurney
Robert Thornton 6-4 John Bowles
Andrew Gilding 6-4 Mark Barilli
Jonathan Worsley 6-4 Peter Jacques
Ted Evetts 6-4 James Richardson
Robbie Green 6-1 Justin Pipe
Richie Corner 6-4 Dimitri Van den Bergh

Fourth Round
Michael van Gerwen 6-4 Gary Anderson
Adrian Lewis 6-3 Jonny Clayton
Dave Chisnall 6-5 Ian White
Jan Dekker 6-1 Joe Murnan
Mike De Decker 6-2 Ritchie Edhouse
Robert Thornton 6-2 Andrew Gilding
Jonathan Worsley 6-1 Ted Evetts
Robbie Green 6-4 Richie Corner

Quarter-Finals
Michael van Gerwen 6-5 Adrian Lewis
Jan Dekker 6-5 Dave Chisnall
Robert Thornton 6-4 Mike De Decker
Robbie Green 6-1 Jonathan Worsley

Semi-Finals
Michael van Gerwen 6-0 Jan Dekker
Robert Thornton 6-3 Robbie Green

Final
Michael van Gerwen 6-2 Robert Thornton

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