Aspinall dethrones defending champion Price as Van Gerwen stars in Anderson rout at Grand Slam of Darts
World number six Nathan Aspinall dethroned defending champion Gerwyn Price as the second round of the Grand Slam of Darts reached its conclusion at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena.
Price, who was looking to lift the Eric Bristow Trophy for a third time in succession didn’t start too well, trailing Aspinall 3-2 heading into the first break.
The Englishman took a stranglehold on the match by holding his throw to open up a two-leg advantage. Price had been ran close in all three group stage matches so it wasn’t a surprise for Aspinall to take the lead and put the defending champion into dangerous territory.
Price finally showed some emotion by winning the ninth leg and handed himself a chance to break his opponent’s throw. ‘The Asp’ hit an efficient 94 checkout to knock that notion on the head and cement a four-leg lead heading into the latter exchanges.
However, the Welshman doesn’t buckle easily, and he began the last session excellently, with an 87 finish on the bull showing his trademark passion to keep hold of his crown. The tide was seemingly turning and Price rattled off another two legs to restore parity at seven apiece.
The tie was just classic matchplay, shot by shot and blow by blow – they were not giving each other breathing space. The match came to a fantastic conclusion as Aspinall held his nerve under extreme pressure to take out 94 on the bullseye to seal an impressive victory.
World number three Price will maybe think himself unlucky as he nearly pulled off a remarkable comeback, but Aspinall proved the deserved winner.
Nathan Aspinall sends back-to-back reigning Champion Gerwyn Price out of the 2020 @BoyleSports Grand Slam of Darts!
A truly incredible match as The Asp clinches it 10-8 to reach the Quarter-Finals
You can see what that means to him… what a game 🔥 pic.twitter.com/yzAIKc6DVw
— PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC) November 21, 2020
Elsewhere, there were also victories for world number one Michael van Gerwen, Michael Smith and former champion James Wade on an intriguing Saturday evening in Coventry.
A couple of years ago, a matchup between Gary Anderson and Michael van Gerwen would have always produced quality performances from both men, but this time around had a rather differing feeling surrounding it.
Reminiscent of games of old, the match exploded into action, with Anderson taking out an impressive 132 finish on the bullseye in the second leg. Van Gerwen kicked into top gear, however, and strolled to the next three legs to establish a 4-1 lead.
Without ever having to play at his very best, MVG was being efficient and taking advantage of Anderson’s poor form and dodgy knee. It was becoming a rout as 4-1 quickly became 9-1, with an 88 finish being the highlight, ending on the bullseye.
It didn’t take long after the final interval for MVG to finish the job, prevailing 10-2. The Dutchman, on this form certainly, must be the man to beat and to reclaim the crown that he last held three years ago.
Certainly the most intriguing and closely matched tie of the night was between Devon Peterson and Damon Heta. Both players having improved massively this season, this was a chance for one to go deeper into the tournament.
Heta started the better of the two, hitting four out of seven on the doubles and leading 4-1 approaching the first break, putting Peterson on the ropes already. Heta asserted his dominance by winning three out of the next five legs to hold an almost unassailable 7-3 advantage.
Another fine leg put the Australian within touching distance of the quarter-finals. a rejuvenated Peterson, however, notched a fine 110 finish that looked like it might be the catalyst for a charge.
The dancing South African managed to pull it back to 8-6, before Heta hit the best checkout of the match – a scintillating 144 that gave him the confidence to win the next leg and seal a 10-7 victory. Heta moved into his first televised quarter final and what a performance it was.
Michael Smith defeated Rob Cross in an extraordinary match to kick-start Saturday evening’s action. The World Cup of Darts teammates went toe-to-toe over the first ten legs, with the scores sitting at 5-5 heading into the second interval.
Cross emerged with a fine 119 checkout to lead 6-5 before Smith hit back to level up proceedings once again. The match ebbed and flowed until Smith eventually took control by winning two legs on the trot to go within one leg of victory.
Holding three match darts at double double the match was surely his. He duly failed to convert all three and Cross saw a glimmer of hope.
The former world champion subsequently chose the wrong time to play his worst leg of the tournament as Smith kept his composure to win in a deciding leg. Smith was the deserved winner, though, Cross will rue the last leg.
The quarter finals take place on Sunday, with only Van Gerwen having won the title before, there may be a new name on the trophy come Tuesday evening.
2020 GRAND SLAM OF DARTS
Ricoh Arena, Coventry
Saturday November 21
Michael Smith 10-9 Rob Cross
Damon Heta 10-7 Devon Petersen
Michael van Gerwen 10-2 Gary Anderson
Nathan Aspinall 10-8 Gerwyn Price
Sunday November 22
Afternoon Session (1pm GMT)
Michael Smith v Jose De Sousa
Damon Heta v James Wade
Evening Session (7pm GMT)
Nathan Aspinall v Dimitri Van den Bergh
Michael van Gerwen v Simon Whitlock
Best of 31 legs
(Featured Image: Lawrence Lustig/PDC)