Michael Smith and Rob Cross produced sensational performances on a dramatic day of second-round action at the German Darts Grand Prix, as seven seeds were sent packing in Munich, with world number one Michael van Gerwen almost becoming the eighth on Sunday evening.
Van Gerwen survived a major scare as he edged out Irish ace Steve Lennon in a nervy deciding-leg tussle in round-two. ‘The Green Machine’ was below-par; averaging 95.20 and missing a number of key doubles. However, Lennon spurned two darts for a 5-4 lead and Van Gerwen capitalised; firing in a 15-darter in the final leg to prevail.
World champion Rob Cross produced a brilliant comeback to defeat Jonny Clayton in the match of the second-round. Clayton took out a sensational 161 checkout to lead 3-2 with an incredible 116 average, but eight missed darts at double in the sixth leg proved costly for ‘The Ferret’.
The Welshman still led 4-3, but ‘Voltage’ upped the ante in the latter stages to complete the comeback. He levelled inside 15 darts, before breaking Clayton with a majestic 11-dart leg to throw for victory. Clayton piled in a fourth 180 in a bid to stay alive, but Cross closed out a 14-dart hold to triumph with an impressive 104.16 average.
Michael Smith fired in seven maximums in just eight legs as he stormed past his stablemate Chris Dobey in a thrilling affair. ‘Bully Boy’ averaged 105.38, crashed in seven maximums and converted 38% of his attempts at double to cap off the performance of the tournament so far, as Dobey was afforded just three shots at a double.
Peter Wright booked his spot in round-three with a battling 6-3 victory over last year’s World Youth finalist Josh Payne. The world number two fired in five maximums but struggled for consistency, although he sealed his progression with a 93.30 average and a 46% conversion rate, as Payne was punished for missed doubles at crucial junctures.
Mensur Suljovic fended off former BDO star Danny Noppert to seal his spot in the last 16. ‘Noppie’ reeled off three straight legs to lead 4-3 but Suljovic responded in kind to triumph; despite missing 15 darts at double. Noppert averaged 98.12 compared to Mensur’s 95.94, but the Dutchman crucially spurned three darts for a 5-3 cushion.
James Wade produced a stirring comeback from 3-0 down to defeat Jelle Klaasen for the second straight European Tour event. ‘The Machine’ defeated Klaasen in Leverkusen last week and reeled off four straight legs from 4-2 behind; levelling proceedings with a majestic 150 checkout as he prevailed with a 92.19 average and a 50% conversion rate.
Joe Cullen produced some magnificent finishing to defeat Yordi Meeuwisse in a dramatic deciding-leg, having survived four match darts in the penultimate leg. The Dutchman dominated the scoring, but Cullen dispatched finishes of 129 and 120 to force a decider, where he conjured up an inspired 164 kill to prevail with a 97.01 average.
Ian White produced a fine display to defeat former Lakeside world champion Stephen Bunting in a quality affair. Bunting produced the performance of round-one in his 6-0 demolition of Christian Goedl, but he was edged out by ‘The Diamond’ despite averaging 100.37, as White triumphed with a 100.16 average and a 50% checkout success rate.
There were a multitude of upsets in Sunday’s afternoon session, with six seeds sent packing. The biggest casualty was Premier League star Simon Whitlock, who suffered a 6-4 defeat to former World Youth champion Keegan Brown.
‘The Wizard’ stormed into an early 3-0 lead but Brown fought back superbly. The Isle of Wight star won six of the remaining seven legs to triumph with a 103.20 average, two maximums and a 60% checkout conversion rate- winning the last three legs in 11, 11 and 13 darts.
Elsewhere, Gerwyn Price’s miserable run of form continued, as he suffered a 6-1 drubbing against Development Tour winner Luke Humphries. Humphries averaged 100.81, fired in three maximums and converted 60% of his attempts at double to triumph; sealing his progression with a fine 12-darter.
Darren Webster produced a stirring fightback to dump out Dave Chisnall in a dramatic last-leg decider. Chisnall averaged 103.85 and piled in four maximums but it wasn’t enough to defeat ‘The Demolition Man’. Webster fired in three consecutive 12-darters to triumph; averaging 101.18, landing five 180’s and dispatching three ton-plus checkouts.
Home favourite Max Hopp produced a fine display to defeat an in-form Mervyn King to the delight of the Munich crowd. King led 4-3, but ‘The Maximiser’ won the final three legs without reply; averaging 96.40, crashing in two maximums and dispatching 60% of his attempts at double to set up a last 16 tie against Mensur Suljovic.
Kyle Anderson was another big-name to suffer an early exit, as he was beaten 6-5 by Alan Tabern in a scrappy affair. Tabern survived match darts in his opening-round win over Jermaine Wattimena and again enjoyed some good fortune against ‘The Original’, who missed 18 darts at doubles, including one for the match.
Kim Huybrechts was the sixth seeded player to bite the dust on Sunday afternoon, after losing out 6-3 against Steve West. West missed an incredible 25 darts at double but still ran out a comfortable winner; averaging 84.86 and registering three maximums to set up a third-round showdown against seventh seed Joe Cullen.
World Grand Prix champion Daryl Gurney didn’t suffer the same fate, as he dumped out Suffolk star Ryan Meikle. ‘Super Chin’ averaged 96.62, piled in three maximums and dispatched 33% of his attempts at double, as Meikle was punished for missing eight of his eleven darts at double, despite firing in four 180’s.
Alan Norris also breezed through to Monday’s third-round courtesy of a comprehensive 6-1 victory over Antonio Alcinas. Norris averaged 93.70 and clinically converted 60% of his attempts at double; punishing an abject performance from his Spanish opponent to set up a last 16 clash with a certain Michael van Gerwen.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Sunday April 1
Afternoon Session (1pm local time, 12pm BST)
Luke Humphries 6-1 Gerwyn Price
Darren Webster 6-5 Dave Chisnall
Steve West 6-3 Kim Huybrechts
Max Hopp 6-4 Mervyn King
Alan Tabern 6-5 Kyle Anderson
Keegan Brown 6-4 Simon Whitlock
Alan Norris 6-1 Toni Alcinas
Daryl Gurney 6-3 Ryan Meikle
Evening Session (7.15pm local time, 6.15pm BST)
Joe Cullen 6-5 Yordi Meeuwisse
Ian White 6-4 Stephen Bunting
James Wade 6-4 Jelle Klaasen
Michael Smith 6-2 Chris Dobey
Peter Wright 6-3 Josh Payne
Mensur Suljovic 6-4 Danny Noppert
Michael van Gerwen 6-5 Steve Lennon
Rob Cross 6-4 Jonny Clayton