Price survives opening night scare as Lewis sets up Anderson showdown

Gerwyn Price was forced to contend with a hostile reception on his Alexandra Palace return, as the world No 1 recovered from a tentative start to begin his World Darts Championship title defence with an impressive 3-1 victory over Ritchie Edhouse.

The opening night of the sport’s flagship event saw Price become the first man to book his place in the third round, while Adrian Lewis and Ricky Evans also tasted victory.

Price made his way to the stage amid a chorus of boos from the 3,000 fans in attendance, and ‘The Iceman’ endured a nightmare start against Edhouse, who edged out Peter Hudson in a scrappy curtain-raiser to set up a showdown against the Welshman.

‘Madhouse’ was plagued by double trouble against Hudson, although he raced out of the traps against a shell-shocked Price, winning the first set without reply and converting a clinical 106 kill to force a second set decider.

Price produced a sublime 12-dart hold to restore parity at one set apiece, but Edhouse was undeterred, moving 2-0 ahead in set three to move to the cusp of a 2-1 advantage.

Nevertheless, the defending champion fought back and snatched set three with a pivotal 130 checkout, and he repeated the feat en route to clinching the fourth without reply, closing out a 3-1 success with an impressive 101.28 average.

The 36-year-old will now face either Kim Huybrechts, Steve Beaton or Fallon Sherrock when he continues his defence of the Sid Waddell Trophy after the Christmas break.

“The two 130 checkouts won me the game I think. I played pretty well toward the latter stages of the game. Sometimes you have nitty gritty games, you have to dig deep and get through them,” Price reflected.

Thursday’s action will be headlined by a clash between former two-time world champions Adrian Lewis and Gary Anderson in a repeat of the 2011 and 2016 finals, after ‘Jackpot’ also recovered from an early deficit to prevail against capable Canadian Matt Campbell.

Campbell – a former World Cup quarter-finalist – maintained his composure to close out a tightly-contested opening set, but the Stoke-on-Trent star came roaring back to level up at 1-1.

Lewis seized the initiative by firing in a 14-dart break in a dramatic third set decider, and set four also went the distance, with the world No 34 landing a timely maximum before sealing the deal with another 14-dart leg.

“That was a tough game, it took me a while to settle in. I missed too many doubles in the first set and I was thinking ‘oh no, here we go again’,” admitted the 36-year-old.

“I’ve had pressure all my career; there’s no more pressure than walking in Phil Taylor’s footsteps.

“Six months ago I might’ve got angry with myself and lost the match but I’ve been working that hard on the practice board and I thought ‘it’s time to step up now’. I can’t wait to play Gary. Bring it on, it’s as simple as that really,” Lewis added.

Evans will also return to the Ally Pally stage on Thursday afternoon, after breezing past Indian qualifier Nitin Kumar to set up a meeting with 22nd seed and stablemate Daryl Gurney, twice a quarter-finalist at the World Championship.

‘Rapid’ lived up to his nickname, racing through in just over 20 minutes. The former World Youth finalist relinquished just two legs, posted four 180s and converted checkouts of 167 and 130 to triumph with a 96.20 average.

The darting drama continues on Thursday with the first double session of this year’s event, including the blockbuster clash between Anderson and Lewis, plus four-time women’s world champion Lisa Ashton plays Ron Meulenkamp.

Image Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

2021/22 William Hill World Darts Championship
Schedule of Play

Wednesday December 15
3x First Round, 1x Second Round

Ritchie Edhouse 3-2 Peter Hudson (R1)
Ricky Evans 3-0 Nitin Kumar (R1)
Adrian Lewis 3-1 Matt Campbell (R1)
Gerwyn Price 3-1 Ritchie Edhouse (R2)

Thursday December 16
Afternoon Session (1230 GMT)
3x First Round, 1x Second Round

Steve Lennon v Madars Razma (R1)
Scott Mitchell v Chris Landman (R1)
Chas Barstow v John Norman Jnr (R1)
Daryl Gurney v Ricky Evans (R2)

Evening Session (1900 GMT)
3x First Round, 1x Second Round

William O’Connor v Danny Lauby (R1)
Ryan Meikle v Fabian Schmutzler (R1)
Ron Meulenkamp v Lisa Ashton (R1)
Gary Anderson v Adrian Lewis (R2)

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