World champion Rob Cross was dumped out in the opening-round of the World Grand Prix by Steve Beaton for the second straight year, as Michael Smith, James Wade and Simon Whitlock all bowed out on a dramatic night of darts at the Citywest on Monday evening.
However, the biggest story of the night saw Cross beaten in straight sets by Steve Beaton once more, as the world champion endured a nightmare evening at the office. ‘Voltage’ posted his lowest ever televised average of 76.98 and converted just one of his nine attempts at double to cap off an abject display.
‘The Bronzed Adonis’ established an early 2-0 lead in the opening set, before Cross opened his account on D8 after Beaton squandered two set darts. Nevertheless, the Hastings star then spurned three darts at tops to regain the initiative and Beaton finally wrapped up the set on the same target.
However, the interval didn’t improve Cross’ fortunes. Beaton produced clinical finishes of 64 and 68 to close out consecutive 15-darters and move within a leg of victory and the world number three couldn’t respond. He had a dart at tops to prolong the contest but was found wanting, which enabled Beaton to return and pin D16 to seal his progression.
Adrian Lewis crashed in seven maximums as he defeated Michael Smith in a thrilling deciding-set tussle. ‘Jackpot’ averaged 89.61 and converted 44% of his attempts at a double to defeat the Premier League finalist, who averaged 89.35 and registered six maximums himself.
Smith drew first blood with a 15-dart break, but Lewis responded with legs of 15, 14 and 16 to claim the first set. ‘Bully Boy’ came out firing in set two; firing in seven perfect darts to threaten the first nine-darter at this event since 2014.
Lewis forced a fifth and final leg in set two but Smith held his nerve impeccably; firing in back-to-back maximums to level up the contest. However, ‘Bully Boy’ squandered three clear darts at D12 to force a dramatic last-leg shootout in set three and Lewis capitalised to pin D16 and round-off the biggest win of his season so far.
World Matchplay finalist Mensur Suljovic continued his fine form to condemn James Wade to a fourth straight opening-round exit at the World Grand Prix. Wade- twice a winner at this event, was beaten by Suljovic at the first hurdle back in 2015 and history repeated itself in Dublin.
‘The Gentle’ secured a scrappy opening leg on D6, before following up an impressive 14-dart hold with a clinical 112 kill to clinch the set without reply. Wade responded well after the break to open up a 2-0 lead in the second set and he appeared poised to force a decider, but Suljovic had other ideas.
The Austrian produced some clutch finishing to level the set, and throwing to save the match, the pressure told on Wade. Both players failed to get away with their first three darts at double, but a sublime 177 from Suljovic proved decisive, as he then found D18 to prevail with an 84.27 average and a 43% checkout success rate.
Peter Wright produced the performance of the tournament thus far as he dispatched Steve West in six straight legs to breeze through to the last 16. West has claimed the scalps of former winners Phil Taylor and James Wade at the Citywest over recent years, but he wasn’t even afforded a dart at double against a merciless ‘Snakebite’.
Wright opened up proceedings with an eye-catching 124 finish on the bullseye, before recording successive 14-dart legs to clinch the first set with a superb 104.80 average. The pair traded maximums after the break to each leave 81 after 9 darts, but West didn’t get a dart as ‘Snakebite’ completed the outshot via D13.
The Scot failed to get underway in his first visit in leg two but still recovered to hold throw via D9 and he sealed victory moments later, sinking tops with his third match dart. Wright has never gone beyond the quarter-finals at this event, but an average of 98.02 and a 60% conversion rate lays down an ominous marker.
James Wilson won six of the final seven legs to dump out last year’s finalist Simon Whitlock in the penultimate match of the first-round. ‘Lethal Biscuit’ averaged 86.46, fired in two maximums and converted 58% of his attempts at double to set up a last 16 showdown against Adrian Lewis.
Whitlock started strongly and sealed the opening set 3-1 with legs of 14, 16 and 16 darts, but Wilson upped the ante after the interval. The German Darts Championship finalist won set two by a 3-1 scoreline to force the first deciding set of the evening, before producing nerveless 67, 64 and 88 finishes to claim the scalp of ‘The Wizard’.
Ian White secured his first World Grand Prix victory since 2016 to defeat debutant Josh Payne. ‘The Diamond’ had fallen at the first hurdle in four of the last five years in Dublin, but having spurned EIGHT match darts, the Stoke-on-Trent star regained his composure to seal his spot in round-two.
The pair crashed in an incredible ten maximums in nine legs but couldn’t replicate such consistency in the doubling department, but White appeared in control after winning the opening set and leading 2-0 in the second. However, Payne displayed impressive resolve to restore parity in the set and throw to force a decider.
Last year’s World Youth finalist found D11 with his second dart to kick off the leg, but White fired in his sixth maximum to wrestle back control and completed a 13-dart break on tops to triumph with an 83.01 average.
Gerwyn Price won a bad-tempered battle against Dutch debutant Danny Noppert to secure his place in round-two. Noppert revealed in his post-match interview to Dutch station RTL7 that he was frustrated with apparent ‘gamesmanship’ from Price, but ‘The Iceman’ eventually held his nerve to record a hard-fought win.
Noppert came into this contest in fine form, having won his maiden PDC title at Players Championship 20 on Saturday. Despite this, both players endured a torrid struggle with their starting doubles but Price’s experience paid dividends, as the Welshman prevailed with a modest 79.15 average and 28% on the doubles.
In the night’s opener, World Grand Prix debutant Jermaine Wattimena eased past an off-colour Mervyn King to set up a second-round showdown against second seed Peter Wright. 2012 finalist King missed nine of his ten darts at double and his average of 73.84 was his lowest since 2008, and Wattimena took full advantage to secure a 2-0 win.
Unibet World Grand Prix
Monday October 1 (7pm)
Jermaine Wattimena 2-0 Mervyn King
Ian White 2-0 Josh Payne
Gerwyn Price 2-0 Danny Noppert
Peter Wright 2-0 Steve West
Steve Beaton 2-0 Rob Cross
Mensur Suljovic 2-0 James Wade
James Wilson 2-1 Simon Whitlock
Adrian Lewis 2-1 Michael Smith