World Matchplay Day Two: Anderson and Cross battles through while Gurney punishes a wasteful West
Joint tournament favourites Gary Anderson and Rob Cross battled through to the second round while Daryl Gurney punished a wasteful Steve West in Blackpool.
After last night’s shenanigans at the Winter Gardens, day two would have to had been an extraordinary to better a flattering start to the 25th edition of the World Matchplay. Jeffrey De Zwaan made the headlines as he sent Michael Van Gerwen packing in round one while Michael Smith, Dave Chisnall and Adrian Lewis gathered wins.
Rob Cross, who is making just his second appearance at the Winter Gardens, set down a marker to the remainder of the field as he blew away Mervyn King.
Cross trailed 3-1 in his sixth encounter with King but a checkouts of 153 and 47 got him back in contention. From there, it was plain-sailing for ‘Voltage’ as he hit a 121 checkout to move 8-5 ahead before winning the next two legs in 33 darts to close out a comfortable 8-5 win.
Cross’ second round opponent will be Darren Webster, a quarter-finalist at last year’s World Matchplay.
Webster produced a solid display to defeat Ireland’s Steve Lennon, one of six debutants at the 32-man tournament.
‘The Demolition Man’ led right the way through the match with Lennon not showcasing his full potential in Blackpool and it was an ease to the finishing line for Norwich-based Webster.
“I had to make sure I was at my best with my finishing because with Steve if you miss he will punish you every time,” said Webster.
“I’ve got good memories from last year when I did well here and hopefully I can go even further this year if I improve from this game.”
Two-time semi-finalist Gary Anderson battled back from 3-1 and 5-3 down to eventually see off Stephen Bunting.
After starting well early on, Bunting’s form faded as the match went on enabling Anderson to push on. After going ahead for the first time in match in the 13th leg, Anderson breezed to the finishing line, hitting his favourite double top to close out a 10-7 win over ‘The Bullet’.
When talking to Josh Phillips of the PDC after his first round success, Anderson said: “I’m glad to get past the first around against a tricky opponent in Stephen who matched me for long periods of the game.
“I was happy with my scoring and once I went ahead at 8-6 I felt comfortable and got the job done from there.”
Anderson added: “I’ll keep plodding on and see how far I can go, it’s well documented that this isn’t my favourite tournament but I’ll give it a good go.”
Mensur Suljovic recorded his maiden win over Steve Beaton in nine attempts as he fired in impressive checkouts of 120, 124 and 112 en route to a 10-6 win over the ‘Bronzed Adonis’.
Suljovic was on the cusp on victory at 9-6 but squandered nine match darts and was punished by Beaton, who converted a 120 shanghai shot, only for Suljovic to get the job done in the next leg on double 18.
“I am over the moon to win that game, I thought Steve Beaton would retire before I finally beat him!” admitted Suljovic.
“I always give my best, there are so many good players in this tournament so it will be hard to win it but I will give it my best shot.”
Ian White bounced back from last year’s disappointing first round exit 12 months ago with a 10-7 over Max Hopp.
Hopp has turned into a real darting icon over in Germany following his maiden title win in Munich but failed to produce the goods as was dumped out in round one by a impressive White in Blackpool.
White fired in eight maximums and two ton-plus finishes en route to setting up a second round clash with Mensur Suljovic.
Following a rare win over Hopp, White said: “Going into the match I knew I didn’t have a good record against Max, we’ve had some good battles and that was another tough one.
“Now I have to make sure I play well for a full match rather than just spells, I need to start taking out finishes in one dart rather than three.”
Daryl Gurney will know he’s very lucky to be in the second round after surviving 11 match darts against a wasteful Steve West.
West was fancied by many to cause yet another first round upset, though, after the match being sent into extra time due to West’s squandered attempts at the outer ring.
West confidence levels dropped from there and Gurney found the winning double eight to prevail in Blackpool.
Joe Cullen secured his first win at the World Matchplay by trashing Gerwyn Price 10-3 and will next play Daryl Gurney, who produced a stunning comeback to beat Steve West.
Bradford’s Cullen raced into a 5-0 lead, hitting a clinical four doubles from six attempts before firing in a stunning 170 finish, the highest of the tournament so far, to extend his lead to 7-0.
Premier League star Price fought back to reduce the deficit to 9-3 but missed doubles to make it 9-4 and Cullen found double eight to wrap up one of the biggest wins of his career.
Cullen, who was the highest ranked non-seeded player heading into the tournament, told the PDC: “It feels like the time for me to have a good run on TV. It’s a relief to win up there for the first time and I’m happy with the win.
“Gerwyn was struggling with his injury but it’s my job to capitalise on that and that’s what I did. My finishing was good and the 170 topped it off.
“I haven’t fulfilled my potential yet but time is on my side and it feels like the time for me to have a good run on TV.”
Raymond Van Barneveld and Kyle Anderson rounded off this evening’s action with another televised major meeting.
Barney prevailed fairly comfortably to setup a second round clash with tournament-favourite Gary Anderson and hit doubling and scoring power will need to improve if he is to make his first World Matchplay quarter-final for seven years.
Anderson took the opening leg of the match but that proved to be the only time the Australian would have the advantage as Van Barneveld reeled off six straight legs to give him a hefty lead.
Despite Anderson winning five of the next eights, the deficit proved too big as Barney closed out a 10-6 win with a 20-dart leg.
The first round action will come to a close tomorrow in Blackpool as just four matches remain. The coverage will resume tomorrow from 7pm on Sky Sports.
2018 BetVictor World Matchplay
Sunday July 22
Afternoon Session (1pm BST)
Darren Webster 10-6 Steve Lennon
Ian White 10-7 Max Hopp
Joe Cullen 10-3 Gerwyn Price
Daryl Gurney 12-10 Steve West
Evening Session (7.30pm BST)
Mensur Suljovic 10-6 Steve Beaton
Gary Anderson 10-7 Stephen Bunting
Rob Cross 10-5 Mervyn King
Raymond van Barneveld v Kyle Anderson
Photography courtesy of Lawrence Lustig / PDC.