Michael van Gerwen ended Nathan Aspinall’s UK Open title defence on a thrilling opening night in Minehead, as world champion Peter Wright kicked off his bid for a third major title of 2020 with a narrow victory over Premier League table-topper Glen Durrant.
The unique open-draw format at the UK Open notoriously throws up some enticing ties and this year was no different, with two last 64 clashes between four of the world’s top players. Nevertheless, it was Van Gerwen and Wright who claimed the bragging rights at Butlin’s Minehead Resort.
‘The Green Machine’ had not registered a win at this event since lifting the title in 2016, although he edged out defending champion Aspinall 10-8 in a classic, averaging 105.50, landing six maximums and converting two ton-pluses to avenge his recent Premier League defeat against ‘The Asp’.
Peter Wright produced a world champion’s performance to edge out Premier League leader Glen Durrant in another gripping clash. There was little to separate the pair throughout, but the 2017 champion fired in nine 180’s and took out a brilliant 121 to triumph 10-8 with a 102 average.
Gerwyn Price breezed through to round five with a comprehensive 10-3 success over Danny Noppert. The Welshman’s 13-match winning run was curtailed by Durrant in last night’s Premier League in Exeter, but he returned to winning ways with a 104.20 average and 71% on the doubles.
Last year’s finalist Rob Cross came through a gruelling tussle against young Dutchman Niels Zonneveld, whilst an in-form Michael Smith breezed through to the fifth round courtesy of an emphatic 10-4 success against James Wilson.
Gary Anderson returned to winning ways with a battling win over Steve Beaton in the evening’s finale. Beaton defeated the Scot 10-8 at the same stage of this event 12 months ago, although the 2018 champion recovered from Thursday’s Premier League disappointment to book his progression.
Two-time champion James Wade stormed into round five with an assured 10-5 triumph over Premier League ‘challenger’ John Henderson, although 2014 winner Adrian Lewis suffered a humbling 10-4 defeat to Jason Lowe, who reeled off nine straight legs to progress with a 99.50 average.
The game of the day saw two-time major semi-finalist Chris Dobey defeat former World Master Krzysztof Ratajski in a deciding-leg epic. Dobey produced a houdini 91 checkout on the bull to progress, in a contest which saw both men average 105, with ‘Hollywood’ rattling in eleven maximums.
Jonny Clayton produced one of the performances of the evening to account for two-time BDO world champion Scott Waites, who posted two ton-plus averages earlier in the day. However, ‘The Ferret’ ran out a 10-7 winner against the former Grand Slam champ, averaging 103.60 in the process.
German number one Max Hopp was forced to withdraw after being struck down by glandular fever, but Martin Schindler and Gabriel Clemens both impressed. Schindler averaged 103 to dismantle Justin Pipe, whilst Clemens averaged 99 as he rallied from 9-7 down to defeat Ryan Joyce.
It was a mixed night for the Northern Irish contingent in Minehead. Daryl Gurney and Kyle McKinstry both produced impressive comebacks to defeat Keegan Brown and Bradley Brooks respectively, whilst Brendan Dolan squandered match darts in a dramatic decider against Jamie Hughes.
Elsewhere, World Cup finalist William O’Connor survived a remarkable fightback from Dave Chisnall on Stage Two. O’Connor stormed into a 7-0 lead before Chisnall binned his glasses and fired in nine maximums to reduce the arrears to 9-8, only to fall agonisingly short.
The Belgian duo of Dimitri Van den Bergh and Kim Huybrechts progressed to the last 32 with wins over Rhys Hayden and Ryan Searle. Van den Bergh saw off the Rileys Qualifier 10-5, whilst Huybrechts prevailed 10-8 in a quality contest which saw Searle wire double 12 for a nine-darter.
There were a number of ties that went the distance on Friday evening, including a clash between former BDO champion Stephen Bunting and 2007 finalist Vincent van der Voort. ‘The Bullet’ came out on top on Stage Two, as Simon Stevenson overcame Darren Webster by the same 10-9 scoreline.
There were contrasting fortunes for a number of Dutch stars on the outer boards, with Jeffrey de Zwaan bowing out against former semi-finalist Simon Whitlock, whilst Jelle Klaasen showed signs of a resurgence to ease past William Borland.
Dirk van Duijvenbode continued his blistering start to 2020 with a 10-9 win against his fellow countryman Jermaine Wattimena. Van Duijvenbode, twice a semi-finalist on the Pro Tour over recent weeks, also saw off Marko Kantele and World Championship quarter-finalist Darius Labanauskas.
The Stoke-on-Trent duo of Ian White and Andy Boulton will be in action on Saturday afternoon. White averaged just shy of a ton in his victory over Harry Ward, whilst Andy Boulton dumped out Luke Humphries, who made Premier League history against Gary Anderson just 24 hours earlier.
Former UK Open quarter-finalists Mensur Suljovic and Joe Cullen safely sealed their passage to Saturday afternoon in the South West. Suljovic eased past former World Championship semi-finalist Jamie Lewis 10-4, with Cullen seeing off the veteran Mervyn King in his opener.
18-year-old University student Lewis Williams enjoyed a fairy-tale run on his debut, defeating Robert Owen, Adrian Gray and Jose De Sousa to reach round four, but the Rileys Qualifier relinquished a 9-7 lead and squandered match darts in a dramatic tussle against Steve West.
There were also comfortable wins on the outer boards for former World Youth finalist Ricky Evans, UK Open veteran Alan Tabern and Matthew Edgar, whilst Martin Atkins received a bye to the fifth round by virtue of Hopp’s withdrawal.
Earlier in the day, Fallon Sherrock and Lisa Ashton made history by becoming the first women to feature in this event for over a decade, although both were condemned to convincing early exits.
Four-time women’s world champion Ashton – the first woman to claim a Tour Card via Qualifying School, was beaten 6-2 by Mike De Decker, whilst ‘Queen of the Palace’ Sherrock lost 6-1 to Kyle McKinstry, who missed just one dart at double and converted 112 and 128 finishes in the closing stages.
Following the conclusion of Friday night’s action, the draw for the fifth round was conducted live on the main stage and the highlight of the draw will see Rob Cross take on Michael Smith in a repeat of last year’s World Matchplay final, whilst world champion Wright will collide with Ian White.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Evening Session (1900)
Gerwyn Price 10-3 Danny Noppert
Peter Wright 10-8 Glen Durrant
Michael van Gerwen 10-8 Nathan Aspinall
Gary Anderson 10-7 Steve Beaton
Dimitri Van den Bergh 10-5 Rhys Hayden
William O’Connor 10-8 Dave Chisnall
Stephen Bunting 10-9 Vincent van der Voort
Chris Dobey 10-9 Krzysztof Ratajski
Ian White 10-6 Harry Ward
Mensur Suljovic 10-4 Jamie Lewis
Gabriel Clemens 10-9 Ryan Joyce
Michael Smith 10-4 James Wilson
Kim Huybrechts 10-8 Ryan Searle
Alan Tabern 10-6 Richard North
Dirk van Duijvenbode 10-9 Jermaine Wattimena
Simon Whitlock 10-7 Jeffrey de Zwaan
Kyle McKinstry 10-8 Bradley Brooks
Rob Cross 10-7 Niels Zonneveld
Joe Cullen 10-7 Mervyn King
Jason Lowe 10-4 Adrian Lewis
Jelle Klaasen 10-5 William Borland
Ricky Evans 10-4 Joe Murnan
Simon Stevenson 10-9 Darren Webster
Jonny Clayton 10-7 Scott Waites
Andy Boulton 10-8 Luke Humphries
Steve West 10-9 Lewis Williams
Matthew Edgar 10-5 Josh Payne
James Wade 10-5 John Henderson
Daryl Gurney 10-9 Keegan Brown
Martin Schindler 10-2 Justin Pipe
Jamie Hughes 10-9 Brendan Dolan
UK Open – Fifth Round Draw
Joe Cullen vs Jonny Clayton
Michael van Gerwen vs Jason Lowe
Steve West vs Jelle Klaasen
Martin Schindler vs Kyle McKinstry
Jamie Hughes vs Martin Atkins
Ricky Evans vs Gerwyn Price
Alan Tabern vs Stephen Bunting
Chris Dobey vs Simon Whitlock
Rob Cross v Michael Smith
Dimitri Van den Bergh vs Matthew Edgar
Gabriel Clemens vs Andy Boulton
Kim Huybrechts vs James Wade
Mensur Suljovic vs Dirk van Duijvenbode
Simon Stevenson vs Gary Anderson
Daryl Gurney v William O’Connor
Ian White vs Peter Wright