The UK Open 2024 - Spring in Exmoor 2

The second day of the tournament started sunny - but it was cold and windy and it got colder throughout the day. In the afternnoon we had only four degrees celsius and the weather forecast said it would be even colder during the night..

On the second day from the 158 players only 32 were still in the tournament, most of them from the Top 32 of the PDC Order of Merit. The number of boards for the fifth round was reduced to four - four matches on each were played in the afternoon session. The format was longer now as well. It was far less hectic than on the first day and it was possible to stay on tops of things. Some of the Top 32 players I had skipped on Friday as one can see them more often anyway. So I had concentrated on those you rarely or never can see on TV. That was one of the reasons I seemed to run all the time into Benjamin Drue Reus and Ricky Evans.

From the Top 32 some were eliminated on day 1 immediately: Michael van Gerwen, Gerwyn Price, James Wade, Kim Huybrechts, Raymond van Barneveld, Dirk van Duijvenbode, Joe Cullen, Ryan Searle, Brendan Dolan, Darryl Gurney, Gabriel Clemens and Scott Williams didn't survive their first match. Instead eleven players ranked between 34 and 63 in the Order of Merit - ranked the lowest was Mervyn King on rank 63 but far from unknown - and Dane Benjamin Reus who as new Tour Card Holder stood at the end of the ranking - were still in. Well, to be sure it was him who was drawn against the World Number 1 Luke Humphries.

That of course is the beauty of the open draw, which most players seem to like as well and which provides the attraction of the UK Open. German Martin Schindler was drawn against teenage sensation Luke Littler - another fierce match. I am not sure Gary Anderson was delighted either to play once again against Chris Dobey. But the matches in the UK Open often not develop to plan though the match between Humphries an Reus was as one-sided as awaited . the Dane just couldn't keep up. Martin Schindler on the other side had his chances to win, he had even been in front, but it was very similar to the Clemens - Noppert match - Luke Littler seems to have some more gears as well he can use when he is in danger and he won the close match. Mensur Suljovic was ahead first too well but Chisnall as well sparked his turbo and won the last six legs of the match in a row.

Some matches were hard fought and the losers had a problem to get over the disappointment - one could see Nathan Aspinall was devastated after his loss to Damon Heta as was Kevin Doets who just couldn't believe he had lost 9:10 to Stephen Bunting after he had been in the lead most of the match. I can't tell you how Danny Noppert, Krzysztof Ratajski and Michael Smith reacted to their 9:10 defeats as I didn't see it.

Other matches of the fifth round were surprising one-sided - it looked as if Ryan Meikle had completely burned out himself on Friday, he had no chance at all against Keane Barry. Reigning champion Andrew Gilding had just nothing left against Peter Wright and only won a single leg.though of course Wright played a convincing match. Josh Rock had no chance at all against a strong playing Rob Cross.

Gian van Veen just did his own thing against Graham Usher as did Ricky Evans against Mike de Decker. I was not sure who was the favourite in the Vincent van der Voort v Dimitri van den Bergh match - one hadn't heard much of either recently. The winner was adequate to the ranking van den Bergh. That Jonny Clayton prevailed over Ross Smith was a bit of a surprise as Smith scored a lot better, but Clayton's finishing helped him over the line. And Anderson v Dobey - I was not sure either what would happen. From both it was not a great match but in the end an average Anderson was better then a weak playing Dobey and deserved the win.

The fifth round ended with a draw as well and the break followed. It really was rather could now and the wind was getting stronger as well but only eight matches were played in the evening session and one hadn't to go outside all the time.

On the main stage the evening session started with Clayton v van den Bergh and from the performances it was evenly matched. But the Welshman had far more problems to hit his doubles and lost. Why Dave Chisnall lost clearly to Luke Littler is not quite clear when you look at the statistics. The reason probably was that Littler timed his high scores much better than his opponent and thanks to this set up his finishes much better. Mervyn King had not really a chance against Luke Humphries though Humphries - as he said after the match - somehow disappeared from the match near the end and played some really awful legs. Hard fought was the last match on the main stage between Stephen Bunting and Peter Wright - Bunting won it deservedly in the end.

On the second stage it started with a rather surprising win of Ricky Eveans over Luke Woodhouse who had looked so good when he won against Michael Smith in round five. Evans had no problems at all to win. Perhaps the support of the crowd helped him a little bit as he is a very popular player. After that Martin Lukeman played the match of his life against Gary Anderson. Anderson once again had some problems to hit his doubles. The way Lukeman played it were just too many mistakes. Damon Heta once again somehow managed to turn around a match - this time against Gian van Veen - and crossed the finishing line first. Though probably Gian van Veen was not too disappointed as he finally had again quite a good run in a tournament. Rob Cross in the final match on this stage had no problems at all against Kean Barry though he didn't play as well as against Josh Rock.

And so after the second day the quarterfinalists were known. Luke Humphries and Luke Littler were no surprise, Rob Cross had shown in the Premier League he's almost back in form. Dimitri van den Bergh, Damon Heta and Stephen Bunting were probably not among the favourites to win the tournament but not a sensation either - but who would hve thought before the event Martin Lukeman and Ricky Evans would be among the last eight?

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