Jermaine Wattimena has apologised to Mensur Suljovic after labelling the Austrian a ‘cheater’ following their first round showdown at the World Matchplay in Blackpool on Sunday.
Suljovic ran out a comprehensive 10-1 winner to record his sixth consecutive win against the Dutchman, as Wattimena suffered a first round exit at the Winter Gardens for the second straight year.
However, ‘The Machine Gun’ was left incensed in his post-match interview with RTL7, as he criticised Suljovic’s tempo and accused ‘The Gentle’ of purposefully attempting to slow down the game.
“Darts is not like it was in the past, it’s not a fair game anymore,” Wattimena claimed. “I want to recall Joe Cullen’s comments – you need to win fair matches on merit. If you want to win like this, then that’s your choice. Suljovic is a cheater.”
Nevertheless, Wattimena took to social media on Monday to retract his comments and issue an apology to Suljovic, before wishing his former stablemate well for the next round – where he faces James Wade for a place in the quarter-finals.
Wattimena – who made his World Cup of Darts debut last month, posted: “I let myself get carried away by too many emotions and frustrations after the match, shouldn’t have happened! I wish Mensur a lot of success in Round Two of the World Matchplay.”
Suljovic will take on Wade in the last 16 after the 2007 champion survived five match darts to edge out 2018 semi-finalist Jeffrey de Zwaan in a Winter Gardens classic. De Zwaan led 6-3 and 9-6 but ‘The Machine’ capitalised on some good fortune to prevail 13-12 in a sudden-death thriller.
Michael van Gerwen began his bid for a third World Matchplay crown with a hard-fought 10-6 win over Steve Beaton, despite averaging a modest 93 and missing 28 darts at a double. Van Gerwen will now take on Glen Durrant in a battle of the world champions in round two.
Durrant marked his Blackpool bow with an impressive 10-4 victory over 2013 finalist Adrian Lewis. ‘Jackpot’ fired in six maximums but struggled for consistency and ‘Duzza’ produced a complete performance, averaging 101.05 and converting 53% of his attempts at double to cruise through.
Elsewhere on Sunday, Michael Smith recovered from 6-3 down to dump out debutant Jamie Hughes. ‘Yozza’ was averaging 104 throughout the early stages, although Smith rallied superbly to win seven of the next eight legs, landing finishes of 120 and 130 to complete the comeback.
Max Hopp became the first German to win a game at the World Matchplay as he fought back from 7-4 down to defeat five-time quarter-finalist Dave Chisnall. ‘Chizzy’ fired in ten maximums but Hopp took out a crucial 100 checkout to force a tiebreak at 9-9, before capitalising on six missed darts from the St Helen’s star in the penultimate leg.
Ian White recorded the first whitewash win at the Winter Gardens since 2016, romping home against last year’s quarter-finalist Joe Cullen. Meanwhile, former World Masters champion Krzysztof Ratajski reeled off five straight legs to mark his debut with a 10-5 win over Darren Webster.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC