Tournament favourite Peter Wright produced a classy comeback to defeat Mervyn King and set up a quarter-final showdown against recent Champions League of Darts winner Mensur Suljovic at the Citywest Hotel on Wednesday evening.
Wright underlined his title credentials after reeling off three straight sets from 1-0 down to defeat former finalist Mervyn King in a hard-fought contest. ‘Snakebite’ struggled early on, but won nine of the remaining eleven legs to triumph with a 94 average, four ton-plus finishes and a 53% checkout conversion rate.
King made a strong start to the contest; holding in convincing fashion, before exploiting four missed darts from Wright to double his lead via D13. ‘Snakebite’ stayed alive with a two-dart 86 kill and forced a set decider via tops, but King regained his composure to clinch the opening set with a vital 68 outshot.
The UK Open champion appeared to be in discomfort and was holding his elbow at various points of the first set, but he recovered superbly. The opening three legs of the second set all went with throw, before the world number three piled in a classy 116 checkout to level up proceedings at one apiece.
King had lost his edge and began set three by missing three darts at double. This was ruthlessly punished, as Wright broke throw via D16, before conjuring up a majestic 141 finish to double his lead. ‘The King’ found D8 to stay alive in the set, but the Scot held his nerve to register an impressive 14-dart hold to move 2-1 ahead.
‘Snakebite’ had the momentum and continued his dominance to seal a spot in his first ever World Grand Prix quarter-final. He followed up a brilliant visit of 177 with a 15-dart hold, before producing brilliant finishes of 121 and 112 in consecutive legs to seal a relatively convincing victory over his former Gold Cup pairs partner.
Mensur Suljovic set up a quarter-final showdown against tournament favourite Peter Wright after defeating Steve West in three straight sets at the Citywest. However, the scoreline didn’t tell the whole story. All three sets went to deciding legs, but West was ruthlessly punished for missing a total of 27 darts at a finishing double.
The Englishman squandered six darts at double to break in the opening leg as the first four legs all went with throw. However, it proved to be an expensive error as Suljovic cleaned up a clinical 108 finish to claim the opening set.
The second set was a real topsy-turvy affair. Suljovic found D14 with his first dart at double in all five legs of the set, but every leg went against throw. Once again, West presented himself with opportunities due to some prolific scoring, but Suljovic extended his advantage with an impressive 14-dart break of throw via D8.
West posted a maximum and sank D3 to secure an early break in set three, but the pattern of legs going against throw continued, as Suljovic crashed in a sensational 140 finish (T20, D20, D20) to square the set. However, West then wasted eight darts at double for yet another break, as Suljovic found D8 to move to the cusp of victory.
The Waltham Abbey ace stayed alive on D10 after ‘The Gentle’ wired one match dart at the bull, but the recent Champions League of Darts winner wasn’t to be denied. He kicked off the final leg with six perfect darts, before pegging D8 for a 13-dart hold, to seal his progression in emphatic fashion.
Elsewhere, Benito van de Pas dismantled UK Open finalist Gerwyn Price in straight sets to reach his second successive World Grand Prix quarter-final. ‘Big Ben’ averaged 95.13 and converted 64% of his attempts at finishing doubles to cap off an imperious display, as Price won just two legs despite averaging 91.14 and posting two maximums.
The Dutchman hit the front with a comfortable hold on D10, before following up a 177 with a 13-dart hold via D18. Van de Pas then clinched the set via D12 with an average of 100.20, before continuing his dominance in set two. He sank D4 for an early break, before punishing three missed darts at double from ‘The Iceman’ with a clinical 78 kill.
Van de Pas was in complete control and wrapped up the second set in spectacular fashion; following up consecutive visits of 180 and 177 with a 14-dart break. He then continued the procession by effortlessly dispatching an 86 kill for a seventh straight leg, before Price opened his account after following up a brilliant 170 visit by pinning D10.
The Welshman then landed a sublime 177 to threaten a break, but ‘Big Ben’ was unperturbed and responded with a two-dart 100 combination to move to the brink of victory. Price completed a 14-dart hold to stay alive, but he squandered one set dart at tops moments later, as Van de Pas sealed his emphatic progression via the same target.
Finally, Simon Whitlock eased into the quarter-finals with a comprehensive straight sets victory over his close friend Richard North. ‘The Wizard’ was one of the men who urged North, who secured a PDC Tour card in January- to take up the game on a professional basis. However, he showed no mercy to reach the last eight in Dublin.
North drew first blood in a tentative opener via D8, but Whitlock reeled off three legs on the spin to secure a scrappy opening set. The Australian then produced a 16-dart hold on tops for a fourth straight leg to kick off set two, but North stopped the rot with a convincing hold on tops.
The former world finalist regained the lead with a crucial 65 kill, but ‘Northy’ responded with an impressive 13-darter to force a set decider. Nevertheless, for the second successive set, Whitlock posted D9 to move 2-0 ahead.
The Aussie ace kicked off set three with a sublime 160 start and defied a first maximum from North to convert a nerveless 98 outshot early in set three, before posting D10 to move to the brink of victory.
North, making his debut at the Grand Prix, kicked off the third leg with a majestic 160 visit as he fought to stay alive, but it was to no avail. Whitlock fired in back-to-back maximums to seal control of the leg; pinning D8 for a 12-dart match winning salvo to prevail with an 86.10 average, three maximums and a 53% checkout success rate.
2017 Unibet World Grand Prix
Wednesday October 4 (7pm)
Second Round x4
Benito van de Pas 3-0 Gerwyn Price
Mensur Suljovic 3-0 Steve West
Simon Whitlock 3-0 Richard North
Peter Wright 3-1 Mervyn King
2017 Unibet World Grand Prix
Thursday October 5 (7pm)
Simon Whitlock v Benito van de Pas
John Henderson v Raymond van Barneveld
Mensur Suljovic v Peter Wright
Daryl Gurney v Robert Thornton