Jamie Lewis produced a remarkable comeback from two sets down to defeat Luke Woodhouse and set up a second round showdown against his fellow countryman Gerwyn Price at the World Darts Championship on Thursday evening.
Lewis enjoyed his major breakthrough at the 2018 World Championship, producing a vintage display to defeat Peter Wright en route to reaching the semi-finals, before succumbing to the departing Phil Taylor in the semi-finals.
Nevertheless, the Welshman has struggled to replicate those heroics since then and he’s enjoyed a turbulent 12 months, revealing recently that he’s been suffering with anxiety.
Matters came to a head at a European Tour event in October when Lewis was whitewashed by Robert Marijanovic after posting a paltry 57 average. This prompted ‘Fireball’ to take a short break from the game, but he’s responded magnificently since then.
The 29-year-old revealed that the PDC had put him in contact with sports mental health clinic Sporting Chance – founded by former Arsenal and England captain Tony Adams MBE, and he certainly appears to be reaping the benefits.
Lewis came through the PDPA World Championship qualifier to seal his spot at Alexandra Palace, defeating two-time major winner Robert Thornton in the decisive rubber, but his performance against Woodhouse was even more impressive.
‘Woody’ produced an exhibition of finishing to establish a 2-0 lead, converting finishes of 102, 145, 101 and 121 in the process, but Lewis responded valiantly, firing in seven maximums and sealing his progression with back-to-back 11-darters in an extraordinary fifth and final set.
It was a terrific comeback irrespective of the circumstances, but given the adversity he’s faced over recent months, it made his exploits even more impressive, and now he can look forward to a showdown against world No 3 Price for a place in the last 32.
“To be fair, it’s unreal. I was dead and buried there, at 2-0 down, I thought I was going home and I was thinking you’ve got nothing to lose now, just throw and see what happens,” said Lewis post match.
“I went to the European Tour and I was awful. I had a 57 average, people were laughing at me saying I didn’t deserve a Tour Card. I wasn’t really in the right frame of mind. I’ve gone to see a few people now and I’m getting a bit better now. I’m getting on the right track and things are going well.”
“Most people don’t realise how well I can actually play and I know if my heads right I can play as well as most of these top boys. It’s nice to come here tonight and do well.”