Five former champions and four of the world’s top ten crashed out on an extraordinary opening day at the 2021 UK Open in Milton Keynes, as two nine-dart finishes were also landed on a fantastic Friday at the Marshall Arena.
Day One of the multi-board tournament saw the opening four rounds take place in arguably the most chaotic day on the darting calendar, as 151 players soon became 32 by the end of the evening.
Three-time winner Michael van Gerwen recovered from 8-7 down in his opener against 2015 Lakeside champion Scott Mitchell to set up a fifth round clash with Mensur Suljovic, while world champion and world No 1 Gerwyn Price eased through with a 10-5 win over Peter Hudson.
However, 2017 winner and world No 3 Peter Wright was beaten by fellow top-ten star Dave Chisnall in his opening tie. Wright was tinkering with his set-up throughout the contest and having fallen 5-1 behind, he was unable to reverse the scoreline; eventually succumbing 10-5.
Nathan Aspinall claimed his first major title at this event in 2019, but ‘The Asp’ was sent packing by a merciless Krzysztof Ratajski in round four. ‘The Polish Eagle’ stormed into a 6-0 lead and despite Aspinall averaging over 100 as he fought back valiantly, Ratajski ran out a comfortable 10-5 victor.
Former winners Gary Anderson and Adrian Lewis also fell at the first hurdle in round four, losing to Dirk van Duijvenbode and Ryan Searle respectively. Anderson was edged out in an absorbing last-leg decider by the Dutchman, while Searle posted a 103.5 average to defeat ‘Jackpot’ 10-7.
Elsewhere, two-time UK Open champion Raymond van Barneveld was beaten on his return to the TV stage, losing out 6-3 to Alan Soutar in round two. The Scot continued his terrific start to life on the PDC circuit, defeating Mickey Mansell and Stephen Bunting to progress to the last 32 on debut.
However, one two-time winner through to Saturday’s fifth round is James Wade, who averaged 102.4 to defeat Ryan Joyce in a pulsating last-leg decider. Wade’s reward is a showdown with world No 4 Rob Cross, who recovered from 8-5 down to topple 2013 finalist Andy Hamilton.
Danny Noppert sent Premier League champion Glen Durrant crashing out, gaining revenge for the 2017 BDO world final to inflict a 10-6 defeat on ‘Duzza’, while World Matchplay champion Dimitri Van den Bergh was condemned to a 10-5 defeat by an impressive Luke Woodhouse.
We also witnessed two thrilling last-leg shootouts on Stage Two, as Jose De Sousa and Michael Smith saw off Mervyn King and Joe Cullen respectively to set up a tantalising last 32 showdown, in a repeat of their quarter-final epic at the Grand Slam, which De Sousa won en route to lifting the title.
John Brown is the solitary player left in the tournament who started their campaign in round one. The 21-year-old – son of Steve – defeated Gavin Carlin, Nathan Rafferty, Chas Barstow and Mark McGeeney on a marathon day at the Marshall Arena, to continue his fine start to life on the PDC tour.
Nevertheless, Steve endured a day to forget, after being timed out of his second round clash against former Grand Slam champion Scott Waites. Waites then produced impressive displays to defeat Martin Atkins and Keegan Brown, and now faces Devon Petersen for a place in the last 16.
‘The FA Cup of Darts’ is notoriously a tournament that throws up intriguing storylines and so it proved in the early stages, as two nine-darters were recorded in the opening two rounds.
The first was hit by 17-year-old Polish star Sebastian Bialecki in his opening round win over Jim McEwan, before Dutchman Jitse van der Wal achieved perfection against Bialecki in the second round. Bialecki enjoyed a run to round four on debut, before his campaign was halted by a clinical Suljovic.
Lisa Ashton also made history on Friday afternoon in Milton Keynes. The four-time women’s world champion posted a 100.34 average in her 6-2 win over Aaron Beeney in the second round – the highest average recorded by a woman on the televised stage.
‘The Lancashire Rose’ also became the first woman to triumph at the UK Open since Deta Hedman in 2005, although Ashton’s joy at her first televised win in the PDC was short-lived, as she was beaten 6-2 by Darius Labanauskas, who is also through to round five on Saturday.
The draw for the fifth round was made live on the Main Stage at the conclusion of the fourth round, and defending champion Van Gerwen has been pitted against two-time quarter-finalist Suljovic.
That will be one of four games played on the Main Stage on Saturday afternoon, along with Price’s clash against Ian White’s conqueror Ricky Evans and Smith’s showdown with De Sousa. However, the action will kick off with a tie between two of the world’s top five, as Cross plays Wade.
Masters champion Jonny Clayton will look to continue his rampant start to 2021 against World Grand Prix finalist Van Duijvenbode, while John Brown continues his fairytale campaign against two-time major semi-finalist Chris Dobey.
Image Credit: Chris Dean/PDC
2021 Ladbrokes UK Open
Friday March 5
Martin Schindler 6-5 Berry van Peer
Danny Baggish 6-3 Brett Claydon
Kirk Shepherd 6-3 Gordon Mathers
Boris Koltsov 6-1 Rusty-Jake Rodriguez
Jim Williams 6-5 Zoran Lerchbacher
Geert Nentjes 6-5 Richie Burnett
Rhys Griffin 6-5 Sean Fisher
Nathan Rafferty 6-3 Matt Jackson
Kevin McDine 6-5 Keelan Kay
Rowby-John Rodriguez 6-4 Brian Raman
Niels Zonneveld 6-2 Geert De Vos
Maikel Verberk 6-4 Martin Lukeman
Scott Taylor 6-4 John Michael
Jack Main 6-2 Shane McGuirk
Jason Heaver 6-2 Lorenzo Pronk
Lewis Williams 6-3 Luc Peters
Sebastian Bialecki 6-2 Jim McEwan
Chas Barstow 6-4 Lukas Wenig
Joe Murnan 6-2 Matthew Dennant
Kevin Doets 6-3 Joe Davis
Gino Vos 6-4 Adam Gawlas
Damian Mol 6-4 Ritchie Edhouse
Dom Taylor 6-5 Jake Jones
Peter Hudson 6-1 Ryan De Vreede
John Brown 6-3 Gavin Carlin
Byes: Robert Collins, David Evans, Andrew Gilding, Michael Rasztovits, Martin Thomas, Scott Mitchell, Jitse van der Wal.
Lisa Ashton 6-2 Aaron Beeney
Maik Kuivenhoven 6-4 Rusty-Jake Rodriguez
Alan Soutar 6-3 Raymond van Barneveld
Keane Barry v Geert Nentjes
Martin Atkins 6-3 Bradley Brooks
Martijn Kleermaker 6-3 Wayne Jones
Scott Mitchell 6-5 Lewis Williams
Ciaran Teehan 6-5 Danny Baggish
Nick Kenny 6-5 Ryan Meikle
Martin Schindler 6-1 Jeff Smith
Andy Hamilton 6-5 Damian Mol
Jim Williams 6-1 Kirk Shepherd
Peter Jacques 6-2 Michael Rasztovits
Peter Hudson 6-1 Jesus Noguera
Scott Waites Bye (Steve Brown timed out)
Rowby-John Rodriguez 6-3 Kevin McDine
David Evans 6-4 Steffen Siepmann
Derk Telnekes 6-2 Niels Zonneveld
Gino Vos 6-5 Alan Tabern
Kai Fan Leung 6-3 Joe Murnan
Andrew Gilding 6-1 Jon Worsley
Jack Main 6-4 Robert Collins
Rhys Griffin 6-4 Mike De Decker
Scott Taylor 6-5 Maikel Verberk
Karel Sedlacek 6-0 Harald Leitinger
Gary Blades 6-0 Dom Taylor
John Brown 6-5 Nathan Rafferty
Chas Barstow 6-1 Martin Thomas
Krzysztof Kciuk 6-2 Ryan Murray
Kevin Doets 6-4 William Borland
Sebastian Bialecki 6-3 Jitse van der Wal
Eddie Lovely 6-5 Jason Heaver
Max Hopp 6-3 William O’Connor
David Evans 6-1 Damon Heta
Alan Soutar 6-3 Mickey Mansell
Mark McGeeney 6-5 Steve Beaton
Callan Rydz 6-5 Ross Smith
Darius Labanauskas 6-2 Lisa Ashton
Kim Huybrechts 6-5 Krzysztof Kciuk
Keegan Brown 6-1 James Wilson
Scott Waites 6-4 Martin Atkins
Luke Woodhouse 6-2 Keane Barry
Adam Hunt 6-0 Scott Taylor
Ron Meulenkamp 6-2 Eddie Lovely
Kai Fan Leung 6-5 Nick Kenny
Madars Razma 6-2 Jim Williams
Jason Lowe 6-1 Steve West
Andy Boulton 6-3 Jelle Klaasen
Steve Lennon 6-4 Kevin Doets
Karel Sedlacek 6-0 Rhys Griffin
Peter Jacques 6-1 Ciaran Teehan
John Henderson 6-5 Matt Edgar
Andy Hamilton 6-1 Gary Blades
Martijn Kleermaker 6-5 Martin Schindler
John Brown 6-3 Chas Barstow
Brendan Dolan 6-1 Maik Kuivenhoven
Peter Hudson 6-1 Gino Vos
Rowby-John Rodriguez 6-5 Josh Payne
Darren Webster 6-4 Ted Evetts
Ryan Searle 6-5 Jack Main
Scott Mitchell 6-3 Andrew Gilding
Sebastian Bialecki 6-3 Derk Telnekes
Byes: Ryan Joyce, Luke Humphries
Daryl Gurney 10-8 Jason Lowe
Ryan Searle 10-7 Adrian Lewis
Max Hopp 10-6 Vincent van der Voort
John Brown 10-6 Mark McGeeney
Callan Rydz 10-6 Jermaine Wattimena
Jonny Clayton 10-7 Rowby-John Rodriguez
Darius Labanauskas 10-5 Darren Webster
Michael Smith 10-9 Joe Cullen
James Wade 10-9 Ryan Joyce
Michael van Gerwen 10-8 Scott Mitchell
Gerwyn Price 10-5 Peter Hudson
Ricky Evans 10- 7 Ian White
Alan Soutar 10-5 Stephen Bunting
Brendan Dolan 10-7 Kai Fan Leung
Dave Chisnall 10-5 Peter Wright
Rob Cross 10-8 Andy Hamilton
Martijn Kleermaker 10-8 Jamie Hughes
Simon Whitlock 10-7 Karel Sedlacek
Krzysztof Ratajski 10-5 Nathan Aspinall
Dirk van Duijvenbode 10-9 Gary Anderson
Devon Petersen 10-5 Jeffrey De Zwaan
Luke Woodhouse 10-5 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Peter Jacques 10-9 Andy Boulton
Mensur Suljovic 10-6 Sebastian Bialecki
Gabriel Clemens 10-4 Adam Hunt
José de Sousa 10-9 Mervyn King
Ron Meulenkamp 10-7 Steve Lennon
Madars Razma 10-6 David Evans
Scott Waites 10-6 Keegan Brown
Chris Dobey 10-6 John Henderson
Danny Noppert 10-6 Glen Durrant
Luke Humphries 10-8 Kim Huybrechts
Saturday March 6
Afternoon Session (1230 GMT start)
Rob Cross v James Wade
Gerwyn Price v Ricky Evans
Michael Smith v Jose de Sousa
Michael van Gerwen v Mensur Suljovic
Darius Labanauskas v Simon Whitlock
Daryl Gurney v Gabriel Clemens
Chris Dobey v John Brown
Jonny Clayton v Dirk van Duijvenbode
Luke Humphries v Ryan Searle
Callan Rydz v Martin Kleermaker
Alan Souter v Ron Meulenkamp
Luke Woodhouse v Brendan Dolan
Peter Jacques v Max Hopp
Scott Waites v Devon Petersen
Krzysztof Ratajski v Madars Razma
Dave Chisnall v Danny Noppert