Former world champions Rob Cross and Adrian Lewis crashed out on a dramatic double-session at the World Darts Championship on Tuesday, as Simon Whitlock and Dimitri Van den Bergh produced impressive displays to advance to round three.
Cross is the most high-profile casualty to exit the tournament thus far, after losing out to World Grand Prix finalist Dirk van Duijvenbode in a pulsating affair. The Dutchman struggled at times on the outer ring, but his superior scoring paid dividends as he progressed with a 95 average and seven 180s.
Fifth seed Cross drew first blood in a high-quality opening set that saw both players average over 104, although ‘Voltage’ lost his spark in set two, failing to register a single dart at double as Van Duijvenbode restored parity within a matter of minutes.
Cross regained the initiative by firing in a timely 14-dart hold in a third set decider, but Van Duijvenbode responded by cleaning up the first two legs of the fourth in 25 darts, before closing out his second whitewash set to level up proceedings.
2018 world champion Cross had the advantage of throw in the decider, but after the pair traded four holds of throw to force a decider, Van Duijvenbode produced an exhibition of treble 19 hitting, posting three consecutive visits of 134 to leave 99 after just nine darts.
Cross applied no shortage of pressure to leave a double after 12 darts, but it was rendered irrelevant as the ‘aubergenius’ displayed nerves of steel to convert the 99 combination, sparking jubilant celebrations from the 28-year-old, who now plays Adam Hunt for a place in the last 16.
“I felt so good on treble 19 in that last leg and I knew I had a good chance to take out that finish but I also knew I had to,” said Van Duijvenbode, who sealed glory with a 12-darter.
“It’s a big moment in a way but I want to go much further. I want to reach at least the quarter-finals. I don’t see why I can’t do that now.”
Elsewhere, two-time world champion Lewis succumbed to an emotional Danny Baggish, who revealed in his post-match interview that his brother Harrison had suffered a severe stroke at his home in Florida just 24 hours earlier.
However, ‘The Gambler’ displayed incredible character to dump out the Stoke-on-Trent star, who missed 15 of his first 16 darts at double, which enabled the American to forge into a two-set lead.
Lewis rallied with clinical 84 and 127 finishes to wrap up the third set with a ton-plus average, but Baggish recovered from 2-0 down in the fourth, producing the first 170 finish of the tournament, before converting a crucial 91 combination after ‘Jackpot’ had frittered away three set darts.
This gave Baggish the opportunity to throw for victory and he held his nerve; leaving tops after 12 darts on his own throw, before pinning double five with his last dart in hand to complete the giant-killing.
“I’m so happy. That is a special win for me,” said Baggish. “That was for my brother. I’m really emotional and that’s why I let it all out at the end.
“It’s been a difficult and emotional 24 hours but I am doing him proud and that means everything. People have written me off before both games but I will keep showing them what I can do.”
Dimitri Van den Bergh produced one of the performances of the tournament so far to whitewash the legendary Paul Lim in straight sets, averaging 105.61, landing six maximums and converting 53% of his attempts at a double.
‘The Singapore Slinger’ produced a stirring fightback from two sets down to topple two-time quarter-finalist Luke Humphries in round one, although he was unable to match the brilliant Belgian, who will be hoping to add the Sid Waddell Trophy to his World Matchplay crown.
“I think I showed what I am capable of and I’m happy I was able to be at the top of my game. I knew I couldn’t give Paul a chance. I feel like I am coming here as one of the best players in the world after winning in the World Matchplay and I think my performance proved that I am,” he added.
Whitlock prevailed in arguably the match of the tournament to date, defying four ton-plus checkouts from Darius Labanauskas to triumph in an epic fifth set decider.
The Australian was swept away in the opening set, but he responded magnificently, kicking off his campaign with a fantastic all-round display, featuring ten 180s, an average of 101.21 and a 36% checkout success rate.
‘The Wizard’ appeared poised to close out a 3-1 success having left 36 after 12 darts for victory on throw in set four, only for Labanauskas to conjure up an inspired 164 skin-saver to send the match into a deciding set.
‘Lucky D’ had the advantage of throw in set five, but Whitlock was undeterred, firing in a superb ten-darter which sparked a run of three consecutive legs, and the reward for his exploits is a third round showdown against 15th seed Krzysztof Ratajski.
Devon Petersen was indebted to a profligate display from Steve Lennon as he booked his place in the third round, in a contest which featured an astonishing 72 missed darts at double.
The South African only boasted a modest 25% conversion rate on the outer ring, though he did convert three ton-plus finishes en route to a 3-1 victory, firing in seven 180s to boot as he sets up a potential last 32 showdown against 2019 finalist Michael Smith.
Joe Cullen progressed to the third round at the World Darts Championship for the first time courtesy of a comprehensive straight sets win over Wayne Jones. ‘The Rockstar’ averaged 94 and posted six maximums in a solid all-round display, to register just his third victory on the Ally Pally stage.
Danny Noppert came through a turgid affair against South African debutant Cameron Carolissen to move into round three. Carolissen received a bye into round two after Martijn Kleermaker was withdrawn due to a positive Covid-19 test, but ‘Noppie’ recovered from losing the first set to progress.
In Tuesday’s opener, Brendan Dolan curtailed Edward Foulkes’ Alexandra Palace fairy-tale to book a meeting with world No 3 Gerwyn Price. Dolan stormed to the first set with a 105 average only to become embroiled in a battle, but experience paid dividends for the Northern Irishman.
Image Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
William Hill World Darts Championship
Tuesday December 22
4x Second Round
Brendan Dolan 3-1 Edward Foulkes
Joe Cullen 3-0 Wayne Jones
Simon Whitlock 3-2 Darius Labanauskas
Danny Baggish 3-1 Adrian Lewis
4x Second Round
Danny Noppert 3-1 Cameron Carolissen
Devon Petersen 3-1 Steve Lennon
Dirk van Duijvenbode 3-2 Rob Cross
Dimitri Van den Bergh 3-0 Paul Lim