BDO world champion Glen Durrant produced a sensational display to demolish Simon Whitlock on a dramatic opening day at the 2018 Grand Slam of Darts, as Krzysztof Ratajski also claimed the scalp of 2012 champion Raymond van Barneveld.
‘Duzza’ reached the quarter-finals in Wolverhampton twelve months ago and he continued from where he left off; averaging 99.20 and converting 45% of his attempts at double to record a comprehensive 5-1 win over ‘The Wizard’.
Durrant will now take on newly-married Gerwyn Price on Sunday afternoon in Group F, after ‘The Iceman’ eased past Andrew Gilding 5-2. Gilding produced fine finishes of 93 and 110, but Price dominated in the scoring stakes to prevail with a 90.24 average.
Michael van Gerwen began his bid for a fourth consecutive Grand Slam crown with a sublime 5-1 victory over BDO veteran Gary Robson in the evening’s finale. Van Gerwen averaged 112.66, crashed in SIX maximums and converted 56% of his attempts at a double to complete the performance of the opening day.
‘The Green Machine’ will now meet Jonny Clayton in his second Group A encounter, after the Welshman eased past Joe Murnan. ‘The Ferret’ raced into a 4-0 lead after Murnan missed his first twelve darts at a double. The Bolton qualifier recorded back-to-back legs to threaten a fightback, but Clayton sealed the deal with a 15-darter on D8.
Krzysztof Ratajski continued his fine form to defeat five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld in his Group B opener. ‘The Polish Eagle’ has won three Pro Tour titles in 2018 and he won the final three legs of his clash against the legendary Dutchman, taking out a crucial 72 finish in the penultimate leg to break Van Barneveld’s throw.
Elsewhere in Group B, eighth seed Michael Smith missed an incredible FIFTEEN match darts before finally seeing off World Masters winner Adam Smith-Neale 5-3. Smith reached last weekend’s World Series Final but squandered a multitude of opportunities at 4-0 ahead, before eventually sealing the victory with a 92.88 average.
Two-time world champion Gary Anderson kicked off his campaign with a comfortable 5-2 win over BDO World Trophy winner Michael Unterbuchner. ‘The Flying Scotsman’ was far from his vintage best but still breezed to victory with a 90.78 average, three maximums and a 38% checkout success rate.
Anderson now faces Ian White on Sunday evening, after ‘The Diamond’ produced some sparkling darts to defeat Wolverhampton debutant Steve Hine. White claimed an early 2-0 lead before Hine opened his account with a clinical 64 kill, although the Stoke star won the final three legs in 14, 14 and 13 darts to triumph with an impressive 104.64 average.
In Group C, James Wade began his bid for a third successive televised title with a thumping whitewash win over Dutchman Wesley Harms. ‘The Machine’ averaged 98.88, fired in four maximums and boasted a solid 45% conversion rate, as ‘Sparky’ missed all seven of his attempts at a double.
Wade now faces former World Youth champion Keegan Brown in his second group game, after Brown edged out Mark Webster in a dramatic deciding leg. ‘The Needle’ was plagued by double-trouble in the early stages, but he took out a sublime 153 to move 4-3 up, before holding his nerve in the decider to triumph with a tidy 14-darter.
Peter Wright survived a scare as he edged out BDO star Jim Williams in the final match of Saturday’s afternoon session. ‘Snakebite’ spurned 15 of his 20 darts at double but produced a brilliant 130 finish in the seventh leg, before following up a majestic 171 by pinning D4 for a 13-dart clincher, as all nine legs went with throw.
The Scot now meets former World Youth champion Max Hopp, who kicked off the tournament with a 5-3 win over 2017 World Youth finalist Josh Payne. The Englishman capitalised on early misses from Hopp to lead 2-0, but ‘The Maximiser’ won five of the final six legs to complete the comeback; an eye-catching 123 kill proving the catalyst.
World champion Rob Cross battled to a 5-2 victory over Lakeside finalist Mark McGeeney in a scrappy Group H opener. McGeeney spurned ELEVEN darts at double in the opening leg and never truly recovered; missing 20 out of 22 attempts in total. ‘Voltage’ averaged a modest 87.49; with a 10-darter in the penultimate leg proving the obvious highlight.
Cross now takes on reigning World Youth champion Dimitri van den Bergh on Sunday afternoon, in a repeat of their classic World Championship quarter-final last year. ‘The Dream-Maker’ kicked off his campaign with a 5-3 win over Ryan Searle, defying a 140 finish from the debutant in the opening leg to prevail with a solid 95.67 average.
Sixth seed Mensur Suljovic made a winning start to Group G as he eased past 2015 Lakeside world champion Scott Mitchell. Mensur raced into a 3-0 lead, before Mitchell opened his account with a classy 124 on the bull. However, ‘Scotty-Dog’ hit his only two darts at a double, as ‘The Gentle’ closed out a 5-2 win with a 94.24 average.
The Austrian now meets another former Lakeside champion in the shape of Stephen Bunting, after ‘The Bullet’ battled to a 5-3 win over in-form German Martin Schindler. Bunting landed a magical 170 finish in the third leg, but the only break came in the eighth and final leg, with the St Helen’s star completing a two-dart 61 kill to seal the deal.
Photo Credit: Chris Dean/PDC
2018 bwin Grand Slam of Darts
Schedule of Play
Saturday November 10
Afternoon Session (1300 GMT)
Groups E-H First Matches
Max Hopp 5-3 Josh Payne (E)
Gerwyn Price 5-2 Andrew Gilding (F)
Dimitri Van den Bergh 5-3 Ryan Searle (H)
Stephen Bunting 5-3 Martin Schindler (G)
Glen Durrant 5-1 Simon Whitlock (F)
Mensur Suljovic 5-2 Scott Mitchell (G)
Rob Cross 5-2 Mark McGeeney (H)
Peter Wright 5-4 Jim Williams (E)
Evening Session (1900 GMT)
Groups A-D First Matches
Keegan Brown 5-4 Mark Webster (C)
Jonny Clayton 5-2 Joe Murnan (A)
Ian White 5-1 Steve Hine (D)
Michael Smith 5-3 Adam Smith-Neale (B)
James Wade 5-0 Wesley Harms (C)
Krzysztof Ratajski 5-3 Raymond van Barneveld (B)
Gary Anderson 5-2 Michael Unterbuchner (D)
Michael van Gerwen 5-1 Gary Robson (A)