Dimitri Van den Bergh produced a magical nine-dart finish en route to reaching his first ever Grand Slam of Darts quarter-final, whilst Peter Wright and Rob Cross were dumped out on a dramatic night of action in Wolverhampton.
However, the big story saw Van den Bergh land a sensational nine-dart finish as he recorded a 10-6 victory over Stephen Bunting in the evening’s curtain-raiser. The Belgian struggled in the opening stages but came alive late on; nailing the nine-darter in the penultimate leg of the contest, to trouser a £25,000 bonus.
The opening eight legs all went with throw, but Bunting was left to rue missed opportunities. ‘The Bullet’ spurned chances at double in the fourth and eighth legs, which saw the scores locked at four apiece despite Bunting averaging 14 points more than ‘The Dream-Maker’.
However, Van den Bergh began to find his range and Bunting wilted. The Belgian secured a precious break of throw with a 14-darter via D16, before following up his third maximum with a comfortable hold on D12 to establish a 6-4 cushion at the interval.
The reigning World Youth champion fired in a superb 12-darter in the twelfth leg, but he also spurned opportunities to extend his cushion as Bunting reduced the arrears to 7-6. However, Van den Bergh restored his two-leg lead with a solid 15-dart hold, before producing the magical nine-darter to move to the brink of victory at 9-6.
Despite Dimitri’s muted celebrations, this was his first career nine-darter and the fourth at the Grand Slam, as he followed in the footsteps of his compatriot Kim Huybrechts- who hit a nine-darter at this event back in 2014.
However, after ‘The Bullet’ squandered four darts to prolong the contest in the following leg, the 24-year-old Belgian regained his composure to clinch victory via D16, as prevailed with a 90.16 average compared to Bunting’s 88.14 – which illustrated the significant momentum shift in the second half of the contest.
🚨 NINE DARTER ALERT 🚨
Dancing Dimitri Van Den Bergh hit's 9 of the best against Stephen Bunting!
— PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC) November 14, 2018
Van den Bergh now takes on Mensur Suljovic, who secured his last eight spot with a 10-7 win over world champion Rob Cross. Twelve of the seventeen legs went against throw in a bizarre contest, which saw Cross squander 19 darts at a double. Suljovic was below par himself, but claimed his fourth straight win over the World No 3 with a 93.63 average.
‘The Gentle’ made a flying start; converting clinical 74 and 116 combinations to open up an early 2-0 advantage, but Cross produced a sublime 130 outshot on D8 for an impressive 12-dart riposte. However, ‘Voltage’ then spurned six darts at double in an error-strewn fourth leg, as Suljovic won the next two legs to lead 4-1 at the interval.
Cross was averaging a miserly 82 and his frustrations were compounded in the sixth, as he wasted three clear darts at his favourite D18. Suljovic capitalised by hitting the same target to move 5-1 ahead, but the world champion responded by registering legs of 12 and 14 darts to reduce the deficit to 5-3.
Suljovic was plagued by double-trouble in leg nine and Cross took advantage by converting an effortless two-dart 88 combination to break. The world champion had the throw to level at five apiece, but he suffered an unfortunate bounce-out on the bull for a 135 finish, and Suljovic returned to peg D16 and restore his two-leg lead.
The pair exchanged holds after the break, before Cross claimed yet another break on D16 to claw to within one leg of the Austrian. Nevertheless, the third seed was unable to cement that break, as Suljovic completed a superb 92 checkout on D18 to round-off a 12-darter.
‘Voltage’ was handed a lifeline after Suljovic missed two darts at a double for a 9-6 lead and Cross sank D10 to record the third consecutive break, but the decisive moment came in the 16th leg. Cross wasted three clear darts to level at eight apiece, before Suljovic took out 76 with clinical precision in each of the next two legs to close out a scrappy win.
World number two Peter Wright was sent packing in round-two after losing out 10-6 to Simon Whitlock, who is through to the quarter-finals of the Grand Slam for the first time since 2009. The Scot was well below-par and Whitlock capitalised; averaging 94.95 to defeat Wright for the second straight major ranking event.
The opening four legs all went with throw, before ‘The Wizard’ took out a classy 108 checkout to lead 3-2 at the first interval. The Australian secured a crucial 13-dart break of throw to extend his lead to 5-2 and almost produced his third 170 finish of the tournament in the eighth leg, but he wired the bull as Wright stopped the rot on D16.
‘Snakebite’ then squandered three clear darts at double to reduce the arrears to 5-4 and although he made amends with a sumptuous 11-darter in leg ten, he was unable to make further inroads on the Whitlock throw.
The Aussie registered consecutive 14-darters to extend his lead to 8-4 and although last year’s finalist threatened a fightback to close within two legs of Whitlock, ‘The Wizard’ won the remaining two legs in 15 and 14 darts to set up a quarter-final showdown against Gerwyn Price, in a repeat of their epic group-stage tussle.
Price reeled off five consecutive legs to defeat debutant Josh Payne 10-5 in a scrappy affair. ‘The Iceman’ had lost all five of his previous meetings against Payne and failed to replicate the performances he produced in the group-phase, but he still claimed a convincing win with a 93.37 average and a 42% checkout success rate.
Price averaged over ten points more than Payne in the opening session, but still found himself behind at the break. The opening three legs all went with throw, but ‘The Maximum’ capitalised on missed doubles from the Welshman to convert brilliant 140 and 124 checkouts in successive legs to lead 3-2.
Price broke back instantly with a classy 13-dart kill, but wired the bull for a 164 finish which enabled the 24-year-old to level at four apiece. The pair then exchanged 17-dart holds to enter the second intermission level pegging at 5-5, but it was one-way traffic in the latter stages as experience proved decisive.
Payne was clinical in the early stages of the contest, but the doubles began to evade him as he spurned chances in three of the next four legs ,which saw Price establish a commanding 9-5 cushion. The Welshman still wasn’t satisfied with his display, but he converted a classy two-dart 96 combination in leg fifteen to seal his progression.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
2018 bwin Grand Slam of Darts
Schedule of Play
Tuesday November 13
Wednesday November 14 (1900 GMT)
Dimitri Van den Bergh 10-6 Stephen Bunting
Gerwyn Price 10-5 Josh Payne
Mensur Suljovic 10-7 Rob Cross
Simon Whitlock 10-6 Peter Wright
Thursday November 15 (1900 GMT)
Jonny Clayton v Krzysztof Ratajski
James Wade v Michael Unterbuchner
Gary Anderson v Wesley Harms
Michael Smith v Michael van Gerwen