Brown beats MVG again but nine-dart Price steals show at Czech Darts Open
Gerwyn Price hit a sublime nine-darter, the first of his career, to complete a fantastic comeback over three-time World Champion Glen Durrant at the Czech Darts Open and progress to the third round of the wide open tournament after eleven seeds were eliminated in their first match, including world number one and 32-time European Tour winner Michael van Gerwen.
The last 32 saw a plethora of closely-matched games, including some blockbuster clashes, especially in the evening session, but nobody could’ve predicted the carnage that was to follow in the sweltering heat in Prague, with the record broken for the highest amount of seeds to lose their opening match in the current Euro Tour format. The day got underway with a routine win for Jermaine Wattimena against Jonny Clayton, who is going out on European Tour Saturdays more often than not this year, but when he manages to reach the final day of action he seems very dangerous indeed.
Danny Noppert then saw off Darren Webster 6-4 in a frosty ending with ‘The Demolition Man’ getting worked up after seeing 12 darts at doubles go begging. ‘Noppie’ was joined in the last 16 by Simon Whitlock, who came through another dramatic game; Justin Pipe was set to continue his resurgence with a 130 checkout and complete a sensational comeback, but the dart in the T20 cruelly fell out allowing ‘The Wizard’ to sneak through.
Nathan Aspinall’s first match as a Euro Tour seed didn’t go to plan as he was beaten 6-4 by Andrew Gilding, but he similarly suffered from an almost unprecedented number of bounce-outs, the stifling conditions seemingly having an effect. It’s a first European Tour final day appearance for ‘Goldfinger’ for over four years, while Aspinall is off to Las Vegas in midweek for his World Series debut as he looks to regain his form immediately.
An all-Irish battle saw Daryl Gurney beat the in-form William O’Connor 6-4, while home hero Karel Sedláček couldn’t beat Ian White for the second time this year as ‘Diamond’ produced a near-100 average. Ron Meulenkamp kept his faint World Matchplay hopes alive with a 6-4 win over the legendary Steve Beaton, before four-time title winner in 2019 James Wade suffered a 6-2 defeat to Mervyn King. ‘The Machine’ is still waiting for his first Euro Tour title since 2016 among all his other successes recently.
The evening session incredibly saw even more seeds fall; Ted Evetts getting things started with a 6-3 victory over Ricky Evans, who has only won one game since he became a seed in Europe earlier this year. Danish Darts Open runner-up Chris Dobey dealt with the heat excellently in his match with Joe Cullen, while Stephen Bunting defied a 98 average from Peter Wright to set up a meeting with the aforementioned ‘Hollywood’.
After that, it was time for the world number one Michael van Gerwen to take to the oche for the first time since the Netherlands’ semi-final defeat at the World Cup. Keegan Brown was faultless in their meeting earlier in 2019, and he punished 13 missed doubles from the World Champion to move a step closer to a return to the Winter Gardens and sensationally throw the Czech Darts Open wide open.
John Henderson seemed to be one of the players particularly struggling with the heat, and failed to win a leg against Mensur Suljović, who is now the only seeded player in his quarter of the draw and has a great chance of saving his seeding for European Tours later in the year. Similarly to Henderson, Adrian Lewis also failed to average 80 and Jamie Hughes dispatched him to book a clash with Ron Meulenkamp.
The two most eye-catching ties of the entire second round came towards the end of proceedings: Glen Durrant carried on where he left off after his stunning 110 average and 6-1 win over Daniel Larsson and took a 3-0 lead over Gerwyn Price, but ‘The Iceman’ came roaring back. The Grand Slam champion averaged 114 for the last seven legs and amazingly sealed it with the first nine-darter of his career; 180, 180, 141 to send the Prague crowd crazy and already equal the PDC’s record number of 180s for a calendar year (29) with six months to go!
Price had been threatening the perfect leg in virtually every match he’s played this season, and maybe it could spark a run to a second Euro Tour title this weekend in Prague. He will play Simon Whitlock on Sunday afternoon, and they are joined in a fiendishly difficult bottom quarter of the draw by Mervyn King, and his nickname namesake Corey Cadby, who raced into a 5-1 lead against Michael Smith before eventually getting over the line at 6-5 to continue his dream European Tour debut.
The fourth meeting between King and Cadby in a few months arguably headlines Sunday’s third round at the Czech Darts Open, and if Saturday’s carnage is anything to go by, the first ever PDC tournament in the Czech Republic will continue to amaze as it reaches its conclusion, with any of the 16 players remaining having a great chance of lifting the trophy.
2019 Czech Darts Open
Saturday June 29
Afternoon Session (1300 local time, 1200 BST)
Jonny Clayton 2-6 Jermaine Wattimena
Darren Webster 4-6 Danny Noppert
Simon Whitlock 6-5 Justin Pipe
Nathan Aspinall 4-6 Andrew Gilding
Daryl Gurney 6-4 William O’Connor
Ian White 6-4 Karel Sedláček
Steve Beaton 4-6 Ron Meulenkamp
James Wade 2-6 Mervyn King
Evening Session (1915 local time, 1815 BST)
Ricky Evans 3-6 Ted Evetts
Joe Cullen 3-6 Chris Dobey
Peter Wright 4-6 Stephen Bunting
Michael van Gerwen 5-6 Keegan Brown
Mensur Suljović 6-0 John Henderson
Gerwyn Price 6-4 Glen Durrant
Adrian Lewis 0-6 Jamie Hughes
Michael Smith 5-6 Corey Cadby