Fallon Sherrock and Michael van Gerwen produced record-breaking averages on a historic night at the Grand Slam of Darts on Sunday evening.
Sherrock kept her qualification hopes alive with a blistering whitewash win over Mike De Decker in Group E – averaging 101.55 and landing four maximums in the process.
‘The Queen of the Palace’ kicked off proceedings with seven perfect darts and that set the tone for a dominant display, as she recorded the highest televised average by a woman in darting history on day two in Wolverhampton.
Three-time Grand Slam champion Van Gerwen created his own slice of history just hours later – registering a staggering 115.19 average in his 5-2 success over Joe Cullen – the highest in Grand Slam history.
The world No 3 signalled his intent with a sparkling 138 checkout, and the merciless Dutchman fired in legs of 12, 11, 14, 10 and 11 darts to book his place in the knockout phases, where Gary Anderson or Raymond van Barneveld could await.
The two darting juggernauts will collide in a winner-takes-all clash in Group H on Sunday evening, after Michael Smith booked his place in the last 16 with a comprehensive 5-2 victory over ‘The Flying Scotsman’.
Smith raced into a 3-0 advantage only for Anderson to reel off back-to-back legs to reduce the arrears, but the two-time finalist was punished for squandering two darts at tops in a crucial sixth leg, as Smith closed out victory with a 98.3 average.
Meanwhile, Van Barneveld swept aside a struggling Joe Davis 5-0 to secure his first televised win since coming out of retirement. The 2012 Grand Slam champion averaged 93.94 in a professional display, which featured a delightful 121 finish in leg four.
Elsewhere on Sunday evening, world No 2 Peter Wright was punished for a profligate display in his Group E tussle against Gabriel Clemens – succumbing in a dramatic last-leg decider to leave his qualification hopes in doubt.
In an absorbing clash featuring eight maximums, Wright appeared poised to prevail after ‘The German Giant’ squandered two match darts, but the Scot returned the favour as Clemens closed out the win with a 98.29 average.
World Cup winner John Henderson ignited his hopes of retaining his PDC Tour Card, courtesy of a hard-fought 5-2 victory over Lisa Ashton.
The four-time women’s world champion trailed 3-0 despite averaging in three figures, and although she opened her account with a clinical 94 kill on the bull, she was unable to clinch a maiden Grand Slam victory at the eighth attempt.
Reigning champion Jose De Sousa cemented top spot in Group F after surviving a spirited fightback from Mensur Suljovic to prevail in a curious contest.
‘The Gentle’ produced two ton-plus finishes and landed a sublime 11-darter in an inconsistent display, but he was left to rue an extraordinary capitulation in the latter stages, which gifted ‘The Special One’ a precious two points.
De Sousa will now play UK Open finalist Luke Humphries in his final Group F tie, after ‘Cool Hand’ lived up to his name to account for Canadian qualifier Matt Campbell. Campbell showed glimpses of his class with finishes of 103 and 107, but a vital 120 kill from Humphries in leg seven inspired him to victory.
Earlier in the afternoon, world No 1 Gerwyn Price continued his bid for a third Grand Slam crown with a ruthless 5-0 demolition of World Matchplay semi-finalist Krzysztof Ratajski, which confirms the Welshman’s place in the last 16.
Jonny Clayton joined his compatriot in the winner’s circle after recovering from 3-2 adrift to edge out a brilliant Bradley Brooks, averaging 103.43 and piling in five 180s to maintain his pursuit of a fifth televised title in 2021.
Newly crowned European Champion Rob Cross is on the cusp of sealing his place in the knockout stages after fending off a late fightback from Jim Williams in Group C, and ‘Voltage’ will meet three-time finalist James Wade on Monday night, after ‘The Machine’ battled past Boris Krcmar to keep his destiny in his own hands.
Ryan Joyce was the first player to secure his progression to the knockout stages – dispatching Rowby-John Rodriguez with a sublime 108.11 average – his best on the big stage. The other Group D tie saw Stephen Bunting prevail against Chris Dobey, which curtailed Dobey’s qualification hopes.
Mervyn King bounced back from his abject opener in Group B to defeat Rusty-Jake Rodriguez in an enthralling nine-leg encounter. ‘The King’ averaged 99.95 in a high-quality contest, and sealed the deal with a stylish 145 finish on tops.
The opening match of Sunday’s blockbuster double session saw Northern Ireland’s Nathan Rafferty celebrate his first Grand Slam win, as ‘The Natural’ reeled off four consecutive legs to ease past Martin Schindler, which sets up a straight shootout for qualification against Ratajski in Group A.
Image Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
2021 Grand Slam of Darts
Schedule of Play
Sunday November 14
8x Group Matches
Nathan Rafferty 5-2 Martin Schindler (A)
Mervyn King 5-4 Rusty-Jake Rodriguez (B)
James Wade 5-2 Boris Krcmar (C)
Stephen Bunting 5-3 Chris Dobey (D)
Ryan Joyce 5-1 Rowby-John Rodriguez (D)
Rob Cross 5-3 Jim Williams (C)
Gerwyn Price 5-0 Krzysztof Ratajski (A)
Jonny Clayton 5-3 Bradley Brooks (B)
8x Group Matches
Luke Humphries 5-3 Matt Campbell (F)
Raymond van Barneveld 5-0 Joe Davis (H)
John Henderson 5-2 Lisa Ashton (G)
Fallon Sherrock 5-0 Mike De Decker (E)
Jose de Sousa 5-4 Mensur Suljovic (F)
Michael Smith 5-2 Gary Anderson (H)
Gabriel Clemens 5-4 Peter Wright (E)
Michael van Gerwen 5-2 Joe Cullen (G)
Monday November 15
8x Group Matches
Chris Dobey v Ryan Joyce (D)
Gerwyn Price v Martin Schindler (A)
Boris Krcmar v Jim Williams (C)
James Wade v Rob Cross (C)
Bradley Brooks v Rusty-Jake Rodriguez (B)
Jonny Clayton v Mervyn King (B)
Krzysztof Ratajski v Nathan Rafferty (A)
Stephen Bunting v Rowby-John Rodriguez (D)