Five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld eased into the World Grand Prix quarter-finals with a straight sets victory over the veteran Steve Beaton, as former champion Robert Thornton dumped out Dave Chisnall on an entertaining night of action at the Citywest Hotel on Tuesday evening.
Van Barneveld, a two-time finalist in Dublin back in 2008 and 2009, was not at his vintage best, but held his nerve to record a convincing 3-0 victory with an 84.95 average, the solitary maximum and a 35% checkout success rate. However, ‘The Bronzed Adonis’ failed to replicate the performance he produced against Rob Cross in round-one.
The 1996 Lakeside world champion kicked off proceedings with a fine 80 finish for an instant break of throw, but he then missed five darts to double his lead, as Barney levelled on D5. ‘The Adonis’ then lost his composure and the Dutchman capitalised; edging ahead by virtue of a 72 kill, before cleaning up a scrappy opening set via D5.
Van Barneveld squandered four darts at double early in set two, but Beaton failed to capitalise. He missed two darts at D16 to clinch the set in the fourth leg, as RvB sank D8 to force a set decider. Both left two-dart finishes after 12 darts, but after Beaton failed to take out 50, Barney converted a nerveless 76 outshot via his favourite D18 for a 2-0 lead.
The Dutchman then grew in confidence and followed up an effortless 89 finish with a 16-dart break of throw to move to the brink of victory. Beaton was handed a reprieve after Van Barneveld missed three match darts in the third leg, but the legendary Dutchman showed his class and responded by taking out 80 to seal his progression to the last eight.
Van Barneveld, who has shortened with the bookmakers from 40/1 to 11/2 to win this event, admitted: “I was never ever comfortable. It wasn’t a good game but the pressure on every double is hard. Anyone can win this tournament now.”
2015 World Grand Prix champion Robert Thornton survived five match darts to dump out fifth seed Dave Chisnall in a thrilling last-leg shootout at the Citywest. ‘The Thorn’ averaged 91.02, piled in nine maximums and converted 34% of his attempts at double to prevail in a thriller, as a desolate Chisnall was left to rue his finishing line nerves.
The Scot, who only qualified for this event by virtue of Phil Taylor’s withdrawal, enjoyed a stunning start; hitting the front with a 14-dart hold after the pair traded maximums. Thornton registered another 14-darter to double his tally, before dispatching a clinical 98 outshot on tops to clinch the opening set to nil with a 104 average.
However, Chisnall fought back impressively. The opening two legs of the second set were shared, before the St Helen’s star followed up his second maximum with a 13-darter via D18 to hold. ‘The Thorn’ appeared destined to force a nervy set decider, but ‘Chizzy’ conjured up a sublime tops-tops 100 finish to level up proceedings at one apiece.
Thornton kicked off the third set with a brilliant 123 finish for a 12-dart hold, but Chisnall levelled before punishing three missed doubles from the Scot to break with a two-dart 85 combination. Thornton landed a fine 90 kill on the bull for an immediate retort, but Chisnall fired in a sensational 130 finish for another break to clinch the set.
However, ‘The Thorn’ showed great character to respond. He pegged a vital 80 finish for an instant break early in set four, and although Chisnall produced a fine 116 checkout to level, he remained unperturbed. He completed a nerveless 101 outshot to regain the initiative, before following up his fifth 180 by hitting tops to force a fifth and final set.
Nevertheless, the topsy-turvy nature of the contest continued in the decider. Thornton squandered seven darts at double as Chisnall gratefully pounced via D1, but the Scot levelled after following up his eighth maximum with tops.
‘The Yellow Peril’ secured the third successive break of throw after Thornton missed seven darts at double to kick off the leg, but Chisnall was unable to close out victory. He incredibly spurned five match darts, and Thornton levelled on D10, before punishing an abject final leg from his opponent to complete an unlikely victory on his favourite tops.
Elsewhere, Daryl Gurney survived a spirited fightback from Joe Cullen to book his place in the last eight. The Northern Irishman finished superbly; both at the start and end of legs to secure a hard-fought 3-1 win with an 89.13 average and a magnificent 75% checkout success rate on the finishing doubles.
Gurney had the advantage of throw in the opening set and the first three legs all went with throw. However, ‘Super-Chin’ followed up a brilliant visit of 177 with a clinical two-dart 88 combination, to seal the first set with a 104.42 average and 100% on the finishing doubles.
Cullen started the second set strongly; opening his account via D2 before posting his first maximum to threaten a break. Gurney responded with a superb 107 checkout, but Cullen fired back with an effortless 116 kill for a 12-dart hold.
However, Gurney continued his impeccable finishing to level the set with a 74 outshot, before ‘The Rockstar’ missed three darts at double to kick off the set decider. This proved to be an expensive error, as the world number twelve found D10 to double his tally.
Cullen responded superbly however. He took out 73 for an immediate break in set three, before sinking D1 with his last dart in hand to seal control of the set. Gurney had momentarily lost focus and Cullen took full advantage; pegging D18 to clinch the set to nil to stay in the tournament.
Cullen pinned D8 for his fourth straight leg early in set four, but the Yorkshire ace spurned six darts at double in the following leg. This galvanised Gurney, who converted nerveless 127 and 72 finishes to move to the brink of victory, which he duly sealed with a confident hold on tops.
Finally, John Henderson followed up his shock victory over world number one Michael van Gerwen by defeating Alan Norris 3-1 to book his place in the last eight. The Scot struggled in the first set, but won seven of the remaining nine legs to progress with an 87.10 average, five maximums and a 43% checkout success rate.
Norris secured an immediate break of throw via D9, before following up his first maximum with a 13-dart hold via D18. Henderson opened his account on tops, but Norris then clinched the set after ‘The Highlander’ spurned two darts at double to break.
However, the Scot bounced back superbly to clinch the second set without reply, with an average of over 98. He kicked off proceedings with a clinical two-dart 96 outshot, before following up a sublime visit of 171 by landing D18 for the second straight leg. Henderson then cleaned up D16 with the minimum of fuss to restore parity at one apiece.
Henderson claimed his fourth leg on the spin via D14, before punishing some sloppy set-up play from ‘Chuck’ to convert a brilliant 124 kill on the bull to extend his advantage. Norris then won the next two legs to force a nervy set decider, but the Scot held his nerve to sink D12 and edge 2-1 ahead.
The former Lakeside finalist was making basic errors and bust D8 in the opening leg of set four, which proved expensive. Henderson broke throw on D10, before registering maximums in each of the next two legs to round-off a relatively convincing triumph and set up a quarter-final clash against Raymond van Barneveld.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
2017 Unibet World Grand Prix
Tuesday October 3 (7pm)
Second Round x4
Dave Chisnall 2-3 Robert Thornton
Daryl Gurney 3-1 Joe Cullen
John Henderson 3-1 Alan Norris
Raymond van Barneveld 3-0 Steve Beaton
Wednesday October 4 (7pm)
Second Round x4
Gerwyn Price v Benito van de Pas
Mensur Suljovic v Steve West
Richard North v Simon Whitlock
Peter Wright v Mervyn King