TAYLOR AND WADE KNOCKED OUT IN PARTYPOKER.COM WORLD GRAND PRIX
FORMER champions Phil Taylor and James Wade were sensationally knocked out of the partypoker.com World Grand Prix by Vincent van der Voort and Mensur Suljovic on a thrilling night of first round action on Monday.
Taylor had travelled to Dublin aiming to win the double-start tournament for a 12th time since 1998, but saw his hopes dashed at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin as he lost in straight sets - despite missing the bullseye for a nine-dart finish!
Taylor's narrow miss for a perfect leg came in the game's second leg, which he won in 14 darts, but he found himself 2-1 down as van der Voort punished missed doubles in the other two legs.
An 81 checkout for Taylor levelled the set, but van der Voort opened the decider with a 160 score - as his rival missed his first three opening doubles - before finishing double two to claim the lead.
A high-scoring second set saw the first four legs go with throw - despite van der Voort landing a 180 in each - as Taylor sought to level, but the deciding leg saw him miss double 16 for a 105 finish to allow the Dutchman in on double eight to claim a momentous win.
"Phil's the best player every and everything around him is magical," said van der Voort. "To beat him here is an amazing feeling. I was very focused and determined to win today and I'm glad I pulled it off. My finishing helped me - I can score as well as anybody but my finishing sometimes lets me down, and today it didn't so I'm really happy. I've got a day off now and I've got to realise that the next match is just as important as this."
World number six James Wade, the 2007 and 2010 winner, was also eliminated as Austrian ace Mensur Suljovic came from a set down to win 2-1 with six straight legs in a high-quality clash.
Wade took out 118 as he claimed the first set 3-1 and also led 1-0 in the second before a superb response from Suljovic saw him take the next three legs to level the game with a 13-darter, a 114 finish and a 14-dart leg.
Checkouts of 148 and 129 then put the Austrian 2-0 up in the deciding set before he took out double 14 to claim victory on his World Grand Prix debut.
Suljovic will now face Australia's Simon Whitlock, who dropped only one leg in a straight sets victory over Andrew Gilding in the night's opening fixture, sealing the win with a 13-darter as he prevailed 3-0, 3-1.
"I expected a much tougher game than that and I think the key was starting with my first three darts in every leg, which makes a big difference," said Whitlock, the former European Champion. It wasn't too special a performance but it's a win. I've worked hard going into this and worked out which doubles work best for me and narrowed it down to two doubles which I've worked on, and it paid off for me. I've been playing really well lately and have had some good results and I'm comfortable again playing darts, so all the practice is paying off. I'm confident and that's a big thing, and no matter who I play I just want to play the best darts I can."
World Champion Gary Anderson began his challenge with a superb straight sets win over Scottish rival John Henderson, who was only able to win one leg as the number two seed averaged almost 98 in the double-start format.
Anderson took out 85 on the bull to claim the opening leg, and though Henderson levelled it was his opponent who landed seven perfect darts in the third leg before sealing the set 3-1 with a 96 finish.
Anderson then landed a 180 in the second set's opener and added a 174 score as he took the set without reply to seal a second round spot.
"I'm pleased with that and when the doubles go in like they did tonight it helps with your confidence," said Anderson. "My darts have been going well for the last week or so but there's a lot of great players still in the tournament."
Anderson will now meet Ian White, who enjoyed a 2-0 win over Jamie Caven as he moved into the last 16 in Dublin for a second time.
White took the opening set 3-1 before finding himself 2-1 down in the second, but after landing a 180 as he levelled he fired in another maximum before taking out 81 in the deciding leg to complete the win.
"At 2-1 in the second set I knew I had to hit back because if Jamie had taken that set he'd have been on a high, and the final leg went nicely for me," said White.
"My performances have been good this year and I had a nice win at the weekend on the ProTour, and I'm hitting a lot of 140s and 180s. I'm enjoying the game and it's going well at the moment. I want to start doing well on the TV stage because that's where everyone sees you, as opposed to the ProTour where you earn your bread and butter, so that's my goal now."
Robert Thornton - who landed a nine-dart finish in Dublin 12 months ago alongside Wade - impressed with a straight sets win over Daryl Gurney, averaging 97, hitting two ton-plus checkouts and six doubles from ten attempts.
Thornton finished 60 and 110 to move 2-0 up in the opening set, and though the Northern Irish ace hit back to level, a 106 checkout gave the former UK Open champion the set.
He shared the opening two legs of set two, but kicked off the third with a 160 score as he moved 2-1 up before finishing 56 on tops to move into the last 16.
"You're always nervous in the first round but I'm happy enough," said Thornton. "To average just under 97 is good but they don't matter if you don't hit your doubles and I did that too.
look forward to playing Justin Pipe now that I've got this game out of the way because with the longer format you're not as edgy, and I'm feeling good."
Thornton now takes on Justin Pipe, who came from a set down to defeat Steve Beaton 2-1 in their first round clash.
Beaton had punished nine missed doubles from his opponent to win the opening set without reply, only for Pipe to turn the tables by taking the second set 3-1.
Pipe then finished 105 and 106 to move 2-0 up in the decider, and though Beaton hit back on tops, a 71 checkout sealed victory for the Taunton thrower.
"I was very nervous in the first set and I think Steve was as well, so to get through the first round is massive for me and I had to dig deep," said Pipe.
"My starting and finishing was okay, and I can relax and go up and play in the next round. I think it will be a different game."
Two-time World Grand Prix finalist Terry Jenkins - who turned 52 recently - overcame 2012 runner-up Mervyn King in another three-set thriller as he moved into the last 16.
King, using a new style of dart for the first time on TV, took the game's opening two legs before Jenkins replied with three in a row to move 3-2 up.
Jenkins also led 2-1 in the second before King battled back to win the set with a 13-darter to force a decider, but the Ledbury ace was to strong with a 12-darter, a 14-dart leg which featured a 100 checkout and a 76 finish as he sealed victory in style to continue his bid for a maiden major title.
"I'd love to win this event," admitted Jenkins. "I'm always good on the doubles and this is my favourite tournament, and over the longer format I'm more dangerous. When I was 2-0 down in the first set I still felt alright and pretty confident, and maybe Mervyn was trying too hard to win that first set with the darts. I punished him for it but he got it back in the second set. There were a lot of nerves there but I'm glad I managed to get the win."
|Ave||180s||Doubles In||Doubles Out||Player||v||Player ||Ave||180s||Doubles In||Doubles Out|
|84.60||2||13/29||5/15||King ||1:2|| Jenkins||86.01||4||13/29||8/14|
|97.03||3||10/26||4/17||Taylor ||0:2|| v.d.Voort||90.14||4||10/19||6/18|