Adrian Lewis and Stephen Bunting will not feature in this year’s World Grand Prix, after the pair returned positive tests for Covid-19 ahead of this year’s event on Tuesday.
All players and staff involved in the World Grand Prix underwent Covid-19 testing on arrival at the Ricoh Arena on Monday, with Lewis and Bunting returning the only two positive tests.
Both Lewis and Bunting have returned home to isolate in accordance with Government guidelines, although by following the relevant protocols neither came into contact with other people during their time in Coventry.
Lewis was due to kick off this year’s showpiece against Chris Dobey, but the 2010 finalist will now be replaced in the tournament by 2017 runner-up Simon Whitlock – the next non-qualified player on the PDC Order of Merit.
Bunting was set to take on Jamie Hughes in his opener on Wednesday, and he’ll be replaced by former World Matchplay semi-finalist Jeffrey de Zwaan. Nevertheless, Whitlock and De Zwaan will only be permitted to compete presuming they test negative for Covid-19 upon arrival at the Ricoh Arena.
As a result of Lewis’ withdrawal, only seven matches took place on Tuesday night, where three seeds were sent packing on a dramatic evening. Michael van Gerwen also survived a major scare, overcoming Krzysztof Ratajski in a thrilling last-leg decider.
‘The Green Machine’ was averaging 110 after racing to the opening set without reply, before Ratajski rallied following a host of missed darts at double from the Dutchman in set two.
‘The Polish Eagle’ seized the initiative in the third, but the pendulum swung after Ratajski spurned three darts at double to move 2-0 ahead in the decider. Van Gerwen levelled with a clinical 103 kill, before holding his nerve to progress with an impressive 98.90 average.
The world number one will take on in-form Devon Petersen for a place in the last eight, after the South African overcome fellow debutant Jose De Sousa in straight sets. ‘The Special One’ fired in EIGHT maximums but it was to no avail, as Petersen produced a series of clutch finishes to progress.
World Matchplay champion Dimitri Van den Bergh also impressed in defeating fourth seed Michael Smith in straight sets. Both sets went to deciding legs, with the Belgian firing in an 11-darter in the first, before wrapping up the win with a spectacular 132 checkout on the bull.
Gary Anderson began his bid for a maiden Grand Prix title with victory over fifth seed Rob Cross. ‘The Flying Scotsman’ averaged 99 to draw first blood in style, before benefitting from some profligacy from ‘Voltage’ in the latter stages to set up a second round clash against Danny Noppert.
The Dutchman recovered from a set down to defeat debutant Ryan Searle in the tournament’s curtain-raiser, despite Searle averaging 107 in the opening set. However, ‘Heavy Metal’ began to unravel in the doubling department, as ‘Noppie’ converted two ton-plus checkouts en route to a hard-fought win.
Elsewhere, two-time champion James Wade suffered his fifth opening round exit in six years after succumbing to 2012 finalist Mervyn King for the second straight year. King was the epitome of consistency throughout, landing four maximums and boasting a 46% success rate on the outer ring.
Mensur Suljovic was another surprise first round casualty after he crashed out to Dirk van Duijvenbode in a scrappy affair. ‘The Gentle’ endured a nightmare evening at the office, averaging just 71 and squandering 19 darts at the finishing double to gift the Dutchman victory.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
BoyleSports World Grand Prix
Revised Schedule of Play
Tuesday October 6 (1800 BST)
7x First Round
Danny Noppert 2-1 Ryan Searle
Mensur Suljovic 1-2 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Jose De Sousa 0-2 Devon Petersen
James Wade 0-2 Mervyn King
Rob Cross 0-2 Gary Anderson
Michael van Gerwen 2-1 Krzysztof Ratajski
Michael Smith 0-2 Dimitri Van den Bergh