Sherrock secures second Suljovic scalp to continue fairytale Grand Slam run

Fallon Sherrock will take on world No 2 Peter Wright in a fascinating quarter-final tie at the Grand Slam of Darts, after continuing her fairytale run in Wolverhampton with a comprehensive victory over Mensur Suljovic.

Sherrock made a sluggish start to proceedings, but responded superbly to seize the initiative, before winning seven of the last nine legs to complete a repeat of her memorable World Championship win over the floundering Austrian.

The 27-year-old posted a stunning 101.55 average on Sunday – the highest televised average by a female player, before conjuring up an inspired 170 checkout to defeat Gabriel Clemens and secure group stage qualification in extraordinary fashion on Tuesday.

However, Sherrock’s win over Suljovic was relatively routine; ‘The Queen of the Palace’ averaged 90.58, landed three maximums and converted two ton-plus checkouts to become the first woman to reach the quarter-finals of a major televised PDC event.

‘The Gentle’ established an early 2-0 cushion before Sherrock roared into action, opening her account with a 100 finish for an 11-dart hold, which was soon followed by a magnificent 124 kill on the bullseye for a 12-dart break.

The Milton Keynes ace nailed double nine to secure the lead and although Suljovic stopped the rot to restore parity at three apiece, Sherrock enjoyed another sequence of three consecutive legs – including a crucial 90 checkout on the bull in leg eight.

Suljovic posted ton-plus averages to top Group F with victories over Luke Humphries and Matt Campbell, but the amiable Austrian crumbled under the pressure and Sherrock kept her composure to create another slice of history.

“It wasn’t the greatest of games but I don’t care, I’ll take the win. I’m just so proud of myself, I’m so happy,” said Sherrock post-match.

“There was more pressure on me tonight but I’ve tried to keep it out of my head and focus. I love the crowd, I feed off the buzz. I want them to be out of their seats when I hit big scores.

“I’m really looking forward to playing Peter, hopefully I can hit the doubles I missed against him last time out and it will be a closer game.”

Earlier in the evening, Wright ended Jose De Sousa’s reign as Grand Slam champion with a hard-fought 10-9 success, as both players failed to produce their blistering best.

The pair squandered 38 darts at double between them and although ‘Snakebite’ landed eight maximums, he could only muster a 90.41 average in an inconsistent display.

The pendulum swung at regular intervals of the contest, but De Sousa appeared poised to continue his title bid after Wright squandered FIVE match darts in a dramatic penultimate leg, but ‘The Special One’ lost his range completely in a nervy decider, which saw ‘Snakebite’ seal the deal in 15 darts.

“It was a struggle tonight. I will have to make huge improvements if I’m going to have a chance of winning this title,” Wright conceded.

“I only received these darts at 11am this morning. I had a practice with Fallon’s darts [on Tuesday] so I asked for the same shaped dart to be sent to me.

“It’s the best dart I’ve ever thrown, even though my average tonight doesn’t reflect that. If I’d produced my practice game, I would’ve won easily but I knew that wasn’t going to happen tonight.”

The match of the evening saw three-time champion Michael van Gerwen edge out his old adversary Gary Anderson in a high-quality affair between two of the sport’s all-time greats.

‘The Flying Scotsman’ backed up a vintage display against Raymond van Barneveld with another top performance against the world No 3, but Van Gerwen kept his cool to prevail, with both men averaging just over 100.

The Dutchman drew first blood with a sensational 11-dart break of throw but Anderson was unperturbed, replying with an effortless 124 finish on the bull to secure a slender 3-2 advantage at the first break.

The two-time world champion fashioned out break opportunities on the Van Gerwen throw but wasn’t able to execute, and a crucial 116 combination finish from MvG in leg eight propelled him to a 6-4 lead.

Anderson refused to relent and continued to cut the deficit, but Van Gerwen was imperious on his own throw, producing clinical two-dart 82 and 78 finishes to maintain his two-leg buffer.

The pendulum appeared to shift after ‘Mighty Mike’ squandered four match darts for a 10-7 victory, but Anderson missed one dart at tops moments later to force a deciding leg, and Van Gerwen cleaned up double eight to continue his bid for a first major title of 2021.

“Overall, I think that game was a credit to darts. It had tension, pressure, good scoring – what more can you want?” reflected Van Gerwen.

“We all know Gary is capable of performing to this level, so of course I’m happy to beat such a phenomenal player. The most important thing is I won this game, which gives me huge confidence.”

Van Gerwen will now take on 2015 semi-finalist Michael Smith for a place in Sunday’s last four, after the five-time major finalist punished a profligate display from Joe Cullen to complete a 10-5 win in Thursday night’s curtain-raiser.

‘Bully Boy’ almost wrapped up proceedings in perfect style; missing double 12 for a nine-darter in the final leg of the match, before returning a visit later to book his place in the quarter-finals for a third year in succession.

The pair registered six maximums apiece in an entertaining affair, but Cullen’s 20% success rate on the outer ring proved decisive, and after Smith established a 4-3 cushion, the world No 10 never relinquished his advantage.

“Every dart felt like it was going in [on the nine-darter], it was a shame I couldn’t hit it for the fans, but hitting the nine isn’t as important as winning the match,” Smith acknowledged.

“I’ve got so much respect for Joe, I think there was too much respect between us which is why the game never took off I got lucky all the way through that match, Joe just kept letting me in. If he’s going to let me in, I’m going to take my chances.”

The opening two quarter-final ties take place on Friday, with World Cup partners Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton colliding in a heavyweight tussle between the world champion and the Premier League champion.

Elsewhere, UK Open champion and three-time Grand Slam runner-up James Wade takes on newly crowned European Champion Rob Cross, after ‘The Machine’ ran out an emphatic 5-2 winner in their earlier Group C showdown.

Image Credit/Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Cazoo Grand Slam of Darts
Thursday November 18
4x Second Round

Michael Smith 10-5 Joe Cullen
Peter Wright 10-9 Jose de Sousa
Fallon Sherrock 10-5 Mensur Suljovic
Michael van Gerwen 10-8 Gary Anderson

Friday November 19 (1900 GMT)
2x Quarter-Finals

James Wade v Rob Cross
Gerwyn Price v Jonny Clayton

Saturday November 20 (1900 GMT)
2x Quarter-Finals

Michael van Gerwen v Michael Smith
Peter Wright v Fallon Sherrock

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