Two-time world champion Gary Anderson overcame an impressive display from debutant Kevin Burness to book his spot in the third-round of the PDC World Championship, despite being plagued by a wasp on a dramatic day of action at the Alexandra Palace.
‘The Flying Scotsman’ is bidding to reach his fourth World Championship final in five years, but he survived a minor scare to overcome Northern Ireland’s Burness, who dumped out former Players Championship Finals winner Paul Nicholson earlier in the afternoon.
The Flying Scotsman’ has enjoyed a trophy-laden 2018; securing maiden titles at the UK Open, World Matchplay and the Champions League of Darts, whilst his Blackpool triumph saw him complete the much-coveted ‘triple crown’. Nevertheless, he was forced to battle against the 53-year-old qualifier.
The Northern Irishman broke throw in the first leg with a majestic 12-darter, before Anderson attracted the attention of a wasp moments later. However, there was no sting in the tail, as the fourth seed rallied to clinch the opener with a 13-dart hold in the fifth and final leg of the set.
The Scot trailed 2-0 in the second but produced a stunning 130 finish on the bull to save his skin, but Burness levelled up proceedings with a 16-dart break. However, ‘Iron Man’ struggled to maintain his form after the interval, which allowed Anderson to reel off the final six legs and record a 3-1 victory; averaging 94.92 and posting seven maximums.
“It wasn’t my best performance but it was enough to get through,” said Anderson. “I knew he could be a tough opponent and he proved that from the start but luckily the maximums started going in and I got over the line without any dramas.”
Last year’s semi-finalist Jamie Lewis also endured an encounter with the Ally Pally wasp as he defied a valiant fightback from Cody Harris to book his place in the third-round. ‘Fireball’ has reached just one ranking semi-final since reaching the last four here twelve months ago, but he showed his class against the New Zealander.
The Welshman crashed in nine maximums, averaged 92.32 and converted 54% of his doubles, but he was made to sweat as Harris recovered from 2-0 down to force a fifth and deciding set. Nevertheless, the 28th seed won the final set with legs of 17, 15 and 13 darts, to set up a potential showdown with Daryl Gurney in the last 32.
“I started off well, went two sets up and felt like I was cruising but then things started to go wrong for me,” admitted Lewis. “I was just happy to get over the line in the end. I just need to be more consistent now and there’s no reason I can’t go on another big run here.”
Former Lakeside finalist Danny Noppert will meet Max Hopp on Saturday afternoon, after slaughtering Hong Kong’s Royden Lam in straight sets. Lam drew first blood inside 16 darts, but ‘Noppie’ then rattled off nine legs in succession to prevail with a 96.19 average and complete a perfect Ally Pally debut.
Chris Dobey also breezed through to the second-round with a comprehensive win over an out-of-sorts Boris Koltsov. ‘Hollywood’ won the first six legs of the contest and although the Russian qualifier restored some pride in the third set, Dobey triumphed with a solid 92.56 average to set up a meeting with his darting idol Steve Beaton.
Ted Evetts secured his first ever World Championship win after beating Simon Stevenson in straight sets. The 21-year-old averaged 92.97 and landed five maximums to set up a clash with two-time world champion Adrian Lewis on Thursday evening.
Evetts also took out finishes of 108 and 120 en route to victory, but it wasn’t as comfortable as the scoreline suggests. The Warwickshire ace won the opening two sets in deciding legs, before eventually prevailing with his ninth match dart on D2, after Stevenson had spurned six darts at double to prolong the contest.
2007 World Championship quarter-finalist Alan Tabern set up a second-round tie against world number one Michael van Gerwen after beating Australian qualifier Raymond Smith in a five-set tussle. Smith came back from 2-0 down to force a decider, but Tabern won the final set without reply to make a winning start on his Ally Pally return.
Elsewhere, Michael Barnard survived six match darts as he edged out Portugal’s Jose De Sousa in a bruising battle on Friday afternoon. De Sousa, who landed seven perfect darts in set two, fought back from 2-0 down to send the match into overtime, but he missed a total of 34 darts at a double, which ultimately proved to be his undoing.
As aforementioned, 2010 Players Championship Finals winner Paul Nicholson suffered a surprise 3-0 defeat to Kevin Burness in his first World Championship appearance since 2015. ‘The Asset’ averaged just 85.03 and Burness capitalised; landing three ton-plus finishes to record an emphatic straight sets win.
There was no shortage of drama throughout the day, and that was evidenced in the opening leg of the match between Nicholson and Burness, when play was temporarily halted due to a power cut. The matter was quickly resolved, but there wasn’t much light at the end of the tunnel for Nicholson, who endured a miserable day at the office.
2018/2019 William Hill World Darts Championship
Schedule of Play
Friday December 14
Afternoon Session (1230)
Michael Barnard 3-2 Jose De Sousa (R1)
Alan Tabern 3-2 Raymond Smith (R1)
Kevin Burness 3-0 Paul Nicholson (R1)
Jamie Lewis 3-2 Cody Harris (R2)
Evening Session (1900)
Danny Noppert 3-0 Royden Lam (R1)
Ted Evetts 3-0 Simon Stevenson (R1)
Chris Dobey 3-0 Boris Koltsov (R1)
Gary Anderson 3-1 Kevin Burness (R2)
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC