VAN GERWEN STUNS TAYLOR WITH BETWAY PREMIER LEAGUE DARTS WHITEWASH
Michael van Gerwen kicked off the Betway Premier League Darts season with a stunning whitewash of Phil Taylor at the Echo Arena in Liverpool on Thursday, as brilliant duo Raymond van Barneveld and Adrian Lewis and debutants Dave Chisnall and Peter Wright opened with victories.
Reigning Premier League Darts champion van Gerwen left the six-time winner stunned as he averaged 109.59 in a flawless performance during a repeat of last year's final.
Taylor, returning to competitive action for the first time since his second round exit at the World Championship exit in December, had only four darts at a double during the 13-minute contest as he suffered his heaviest-ever Premier League Darts defeat.
Van Gerwen showed his intentions by breaking throw with a 13-darter in the game's opening leg, and finished 121 on the bull to double his lead before another 13-darter moved him three legs clear.
Taylor hit three 140s in the fourth leg, but missed two darts at double 12 as the Dutchman finished a 14-darter before pinning a 12-dart leg for a 5-0 cushion.
Taylor, using a new design of dart in competition for the first time, landed a 180 in the sixth leg but was left waiting on a finish as tops put van Gerwen 6-0 up, before the new World Champion posted a 180 in a 15-dart leg as he wrapped up an incredible win.
"To start the Premier League with a 7-0 win over Phil Taylor is amazing," admitted van Gerwen, who hit seven doubles from nine attempts. "I hope I can keep up this form for the next 15 weeks! All the pressure was on me and I was the favourite after winning the World Championship, but that didn't bother me and I played well. Phil didn't play his top game but I played really well and finished everything. I can't remember anyone beating Phil 7-0 before but he'll be back - he's a true great and he's won 16 World Championships, but it might take him a few weeks to get used to his new darts."
The night also saw another brilliant performance from the Premier League's other Dutch star, as Raymond van Barneveld averaged 108.52 in a superb 7-2 win over 2011 Premier League Darts champion Gary Anderson.
The five-time World Champion opened the game with a 13-darter and added two 11-dart legs as he moved 3-0 up, with Anderson replying on tops only for the Dutchman to hit a third 11-dart finish of the game in another burst as he moved 6-1 up.
Anderson - last weekend's German Darts Championship winner - traded 180s with his rival as double top kept him in the game, but he missed the bullseye for a 126 checkout in the next as van Barneveld sealed a huge victory.
"I'm very happy with that," said van Barneveld, who took out 70 percent of his darts at a double. "Gary had a great weekend in Germany so I had to play that well to keep him at arms length. In the first couple of legs I scored brilliantly and every double went in, and Gary said there was nothing he could do about it. The nine-darter was very close and I really wanted to hit one here because it's a great venue, but I had a couple of 11-darters and I'm delighted with the performance. If I believe in myself week in, week out, I know I can win this league, I really do believe that."
Two-time World Champion Adrian Lewis was another heavy winner on the opening night, bringing the Echo Arena crowd to their feet with a 7-1 romp against another former Premier League Darts finalist, Simon Whitlock.
Lewis raced into a four-leg lead with some superb finishing on double top and ten, took out 61 on double four to win a fifth leg and then posted a 130 finish to lead 6-0.
Whitlock finished 61 to reply as he got avoided a whitewash, but two missed doubles in the next allowed Lewis to complete a heavy win, ending with a 99.13 average and seven doubles from 11 attempts.
"It's a belting start for me to beat a player like Simon so well," said Lewis. "I was trying to get the whitewash - I was annoyed with myself when Simon won a leg! Since I lost to Michael van Gerwen in the World Championship semi-finals, I haven't been off the practice board. Michael was the better player on the night, but I've tried to put it right. This is a new season and a new me, and I'm looking to the future."
Debutants Dave Chisnall and Peter Wright also enjoyed victories as they opened their Premier League Darts campaigns with defeats of Robert Thornton and Wes Newton respectively.
Chisnall punished missed doubles from Thornton as he won two of the opening three legs, and though the Scot edged into a 3-2 lead, the world number five hit back to regain the edge before breaking throw in the game's final leg to claim victory.
"I'm very happy to kick off the season with a win," admitted Chisnall. "I'll get used to it out there and that's going to give me bags of confidence, and the crowd were great and really got behind me. When it went to three-all tonight I started to feel comfortable, and I think I'll embrace it as the league season goes on."
World Championship finalist Wright, meanwhile, was a 7-3 winner against world number eight Newton, who never recovered from falling 3-0 and 4-1 down early on.
Newton pulled back to 4-3 only to miss two darts at double six to level the game, and Wright raced clear to punish further wayward finishing by securing the points.
"I've got admit that I was very nervous before the game, but I went out there to enjoy it and I'm full of beans now," smiled colourful Wright afterwards. "The crowd were great and that spurred me on, and I want to play like this every week. I didn't want to lose on night one because it can be downhill from there, but I'm a totally different player since reaching the World Championship final. There's no pressure on me and I feel I can do some real damage here and in the major tournaments this year."
|108.52||2||7/10||v.Barneveld ||7:2|| Anderson||100.71||0||2/4|