Masters Roundup: Clayton stuns Van Gerwen; wins for Smith, Aspinall and Lewis
Jonny Clayton caused a major upset on the first night of the Masters by beating five time defending champion Michael Van Gerwen by 10 legs to 6.
It was an inspired performance from the 45 year old who is the lowest ranked player in the tournament, and wasn’t expected to trouble the world number one, at a venue he was, before this match, unbeaten at.
Clayton raced into a 3-0 lead, breaking Van Gerwen’s throw in the very first leg of the match with a fine checkout of 92 before consolidating his lead with a comfortable hold of throw in the second leg. It was the third leg, though, that offered the first glimpse of what could possibly be on the cards.Van Gerwen got himself in a position to break straight back but missed double top with his first dart at a double in the match. Clayton, pounced on this by flawlessly checking out 116.
The pair then exchanged legs before the interval meaning Clayton led 4-1.
After the break, Van Gerwen came out much sharper, winning the first two legs and cutting Clayton’s lead to just one leg. Clayton regrouped to win leg eight before Van Gerwen hit back with the next two legs to level the match for the first time at 5-5.
Leg eleven proved a pretty decisive moment in the match. Van Gerwen missed two darts at a double which would have given him the lead for the first time in the match. Instead, Clayton hit double 12 to edge back into the lead. It proved to be a lead he would not relinquish as he reeled off another three straight legs to put himself on the brink of a famous victory at 9-5.
Leg 15 was the leg of the match, Clayton needed 121 to win but could only hit the 25 instead of the bull. Van Gerwen then produced a moment of match saving magic to hit a 164 checkout and make it 9-6. However, it proved to be just a fleeting act of defiance, as Clayton, with his fourth match dart, clinched the crucial leg he needed to make history and dump the world number one out in the first round.
Elsewhere, Michael Smith impressed, as he averaged 101.85 on his way to a 10-6 win over Mensur Suljovic in an entertaining encounter.This average coupled with a checkout percentage of 59 saw him overwhelm his opponent despite a slow start.
Suljovic checked out 124 in the opening leg and soon had a 2-0 lead. However, this seemed to wake Smith up and he claimed five consecutive legs to lead 5-2. He followed this up by winning three of the next four to hold a commanding 8-3 advantage. Suljovic rallied, and cut the deficit to 8-6 as the match threatened to go down to the wire. Smith steadied himself though, and produced two clinical legs to book his place in the quarter finals.
Nathan Aspinall is also safely through after thrashing James Wade 10-4 in a low quality affair. Neither player managed a triple figure checkout and both players struggled to register big scores with Aspinall just averaging north of 90 to Wade’s 87.55 and managing just one 180 in the entire match.
There was a similarly drab affair at the end of the evening between two former World Champions, Adrian Lewis and Rob Cross. In the end, it was Lewis who was victorious, his average just shy of 88 helping him to have almost three times as many darts at a double as Cross. This was enough for him to record a 10-5 victory.
The tournament continues tomorrow evening with the remaining first round matches taking place to decide the quarter final lineup. The quarter finals will be played on Sunday afternoon before the semi finals and final take place on Sunday night.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC