Premier League stars Rob Cross, Michael Smith and Gerwyn Price all progressed through to the UK Open quarter-finals on a dramatic day of action at Butlin’s Minehead Resort, as James Wade, Daryl Gurney and Mensur Suljovic became the latest big names to exit the tournament.
Following an extraordinary opening day which saw former champions Michael van Gerwen, Gary Anderson, Peter Wright, Adrian Lewis and Raymond van Barneveld all crash out of the tournament, the shocks continued in Minehead.
The Premier League trio of Cross, Smith and Price all booked their spots in the last eight, alongside World Championship semi-finalist Nathan Aspinall and former Lakeside champion Steve Beaton, who is through to his first UK Open quarter-final for 15 years.
Meanwhile, Josh Payne, Simon Stevenson and Ross Smith all progressed through to their first major PDC quarter-finals, as ‘The FA Cup of Darts’ continues to throw up a multitude of surprises.
However, the performance of the day was produced by 2017 finalist Price. The Grand Slam champion is unbeaten so far in this year’s Premier League and after dispatching Joe Cullen in round-four, he posted successive ton-topping averages against Jamie Hughes and Krzysztof Ratajski.
The Welshman, who secured back-to-back Players Championship titles last weekend, trailed ‘Yozza’ 4-1 and 6-3, before taking out a brilliant 167 finish in leg ten to reduce the arrears. He then moved 8-6 ahead, before producing his second 167 outshot of the contest to seal victory with a 101.40 average.
In the last eight, Price faced former World Masters champion Ratajski, who defeated him on this stage in November’s Players Championship Finals. Nevertheless, the world number seven delivered a devastating display to thrash the Pole 10-3; taking out finishes of 117, 144 and 145 and averaging 105.70.
World number two Cross is into the quarter-finals for the second consecutive year after claiming hard-fought wins over Mervyn King and Cristo Reyes respectively.
Cross was pitted against Michael van Gerwen’s conqueror King in round-five, but ‘The King’ was unable to replicate those heroics as ‘Voltage’ ran out a comfortable 10-5 winner with a 97.10 average. The 2018 world champion then battled to a 10-6 victory over an out-of-sorts Cristo Reyes in the evening’s finale.
World Championship finalist Smith defied his injury woes to reach the last eight of the UK Open for the first time in 11 attempts. ‘Bully Boy’ underwent emergency surgery on an abscess on Monday, but the St Helen’s star battled through the pain barrier to seal his place in finals day.
Smith edged out his fellow Premier League star Daryl Gurney in a gripping last-leg decider on the Main Stage on Saturday afternoon, before sending the last remaining Dutchman Jermaine Wattimena crashing out of the tournament; averaging 101.60 to close out a 10-3 win.
Elsewhere, the evergreen Beaton reached his first UK Open quarter-final since 2004 after claiming the scalps of former World Youth champions Keegan Brown and Dimitri Van den Bergh on day two in Minehead.
‘The Bronzed Adonis’ defeated reigning champion Gary Anderson 10-8 on Friday evening, averaging 98.60 to defeat the returning two-time world champion. Beaton then defeated Brown by the same scoreline with a 96.60 average, before edging out Van den Bergh in a scrappy sixth-round affair.
Stevenson continued his remarkable giant-killing run at this year’s UK Open to reach his first televised PDC quarter-final. ‘The Mirror Man’ defeated Adrian Gray, former Lakeside champion Mark Webster and Dutch legend Raymond van Barneveld on Friday, before repeating his heroics on Saturday.
The Plymouth ace claimed a hard-fought 10-6 win over Kim Huybrechts to reach the last 16, where he produced an inspired fightback to dump out five-time major finalist Dave Chisnall. ‘Chizzy’ led 8-4 but Stevenson took out finishes of 150, 104 and 128 in three straight legs, before converting a nerveless 82 kill to prevail in a last-leg decider.
Ross Smith is also in to his first major PDC quarter-final after claiming the scalps of Steve West and James Wade. Smith eased past West 10-5 with a solid 95.90 average, before securing the biggest win of his career to dump out two-time UK Open winner Wade 10-7; averaging 96.70 in the process.
Payne became the third player to reach his first senior televised quarter-final on a gruelling day of action at the Butlin’s Minehead Resort. ‘The Maximum’ thumped Kyle Anderson 10-2 in round-four on Friday night and maintained his fine form on day two.
The former World Youth finalist defeated 2018 World Championship semi-finalist Jamie Lewis 10-7 with a 98.50 average, before beating his close friend Simon Whitlock by the same scoreline to set up a quarter-final showdown with tournament favourite Cross.
Elsewhere, World Championship semi-finalist Aspinall continued his fine form to reach the UK Open quarter-finals for the first time in his career. ‘The Asp’ kicked off his campaign with victory over Toni Alcinas, before he edged out Christian Kist in a dramatic last-leg decider on Friday evening.
The 27-year-old breezed into the last 16 with an emphatic 10-2 win over Madars Razma, to set up a showdown against fellow Premier League contender Steve Lennon. The Irishman led 7-3, but Aspinall responded by reeling off seven of the final eight legs to complete the comeback.
The quarter-final draw was made live on the Main Stage by Chris Mason and Keith Deller shortly after the last 16 action concluded, but the remaining Premier League stars all avoided each other.
Cross will face Payne in Sunday’s first quarter-final, while Michael Smith plays Beaton in an intriguing last eight tussle. Elsewhere, Price faces Stevenson, before Aspinall locks horns with Ross Smith in the fourth and final quarter-final clash.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Saturday March 2
Afternoon Session (1230 GMT start)
James Wade 10-7 Max Hopp
Michael Smith 10-9 Daryl Gurney
Dimitri Van den Bergh 10-9 Mensur Suljovic
Rob Cross 10-5 Mervyn King
Nathan Aspinall 10-2 Madars Razma
Simon Whitlock 10-8 Gabriel Clemens
Josh Payne 10-7 Jamie Lewis
Gerwyn Price 10-7 Jamie Hughes
Steve Beaton 10-8 Keegan Brown
Krzysztof Ratajski 10-7 Jonny Clayton
Simon Stevenson 10-6 Kim Huybrechts
Jermaine Wattimena 10-8 Luke Woodhouse
Steve Lennon 10-8 Mickey Mansell
Dave Chisnall 10-5 Martin Schindler
Ross Smith 10-5 Steve West
Cristo Reyes 10-7 Richard North
Evening Session (1900 GMT start)
Ross Smith 10-7 James Wade
Gerwyn Price 10-3 Krzysztof Ratajski
Michael Smith 10-3 Jermaine Wattimena
Rob Cross 10-6 Cristo Reyes
Nathan Aspinall 10-8 Steve Lennon
Simon Stevenson 10-9 Dave Chisnall
Steve Beaton 10-8 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Josh Payne 10-7 Simon Whitlock
Sunday March 3
Afternoon Session (1245 GMT start)
Rob Cross v Josh Payne
Michael Smith v Steve Beaton
Simon Stevenson v Gerwyn Price
Nathan Aspinall v Ross Smith