Former champions Michael van Gerwen and Phil Taylor remain on course to collide in the semi-finals of the Grand Slam of Darts, whilst Peter Wright and Brendan Dolan also booked their quarter-final spots at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall on Wednesday evening.
The performance of the night was delivered by world number one Michael van Gerwen, who averaged 103.24 to defeat a tenacious Robert Thornton 10-5. ‘The Green Machine’ posted six maximums and converted 40% of his doubles, and although Thornton landed four maximums and two big ton-plus finishes, his lack of consistency cost him.
Van Gerwen kicked off proceedings in masterful fashion, registering his first maximum en route to an 11-dart opening salvo. However, Thornton was unperturbed and fired back instantly with a stunning 129 finish (T19, T16, D12).
The pair exchanged 14-darters as the high-quality contest continued, before Thornton squandered a wonderful opportunity to break. MvG missed four darts at D16 but ‘The Thorn’ then missed darts at D10 and D5 to complete an 80 kill and the Dutchman exploited this reprieve to hold throw on D8.
Van Gerwen wasn’t at his clinical best but Thornton was posting too many mediocre scores and the Dutchman took full advantage to establish a commanding 5-2 cushion. Van Gerwen then won his fourth consecutive leg after following up his fourth maximum with a clinical 96 finish to complete an impressive 11-dart leg.
Nevertheless out of nowhere, Thornton averted his slump. The Scot landed his first maximum and then took out a majestic 145 finish to break throw, before reducing the arrears to 6-4 by hitting another maximum and pinning tops for a 14-darter.
However, Van Gerwen emerged from the interval in rampant mood. He won the eleventh leg with a sparkling 170 checkout, before surging 8-4 ahead with a 15-darter. Thornton left 81 after 9 darts as he attempted to break back, but the former Grand Prix champion missed two darts at D12 as MvG nailed D10 to move to within a leg of victory.
Thornton prolonged his hopes by hitting tops after the world number one was unable to threaten a 114 checkout, although the Scot’s respite was short-lived. Van Gerwen fired in his sixth maximum to leave 87 after just 9 darts, and he duly converted the checkout in two-darts to book his place in Friday’s quarter-finals.
Six-time Grand Slam winner Phil Taylor cruised into the quarter-finals with a 10-5 victory against last year’s Lakeside finalist Jeff Smith. The Canadian acquitted himself well, but he was unable to trouble ‘The Power’, who secured victory with a 98.04 average and three maximums.
‘The Silencer’ certainly subdued Taylor in the opening stages as the first four legs all went with throw, but Smith spurned an opportunity to break just before the interval after missing the bullseye for an 83 checkout.
Taylor capitalised on this fortune and later secured the first break of throw in the sixth leg with a clinical 12-darter. The 16-time world champion then punished further missed doubles from Smith to move 5-2 ahead, before winning his fourth straight leg in sumptuous style, with a crowd-pleasing 100 checkout (S20, D20, D20).
Taylor made it five legs in succession to extend his lead to 7-2, but Smith halted the 56-year-old’s charge with a stunning 152 finish. The Canadian missed further doubles to win his second straight leg and this essentially ended his faint hopes. The next four legs all went with throw as ‘The Power’ sealed his progression with a 15-darter.
Taylor will meet Peter Wright in the quarter-finals after Snakebite reeled off eight successive legs to ease past BDO World Trophy winner Darryl Fitton. Fitton started brightly but was unable to maintain his form, as Wright rounded off an impressive win with a 99.69 average and 58% on the doubles.
The Scot opened his account with a fine 13-darter and narrowly wired D12 for a 141 finish which would have extended his advantage. However, Snakebite then profited from Fitton’s missed doubles in the third leg; ‘The Dazzler’ left 50 after 9 darts but missed two at double, allowing Wright to step in and convert 82 in two-darts.
However, the Scot suffered a momentary lapse and the BDO World Trophy champion took advantage, reeling off back-to-back legs to establish a 3-2 lead with a break of throw at the first interval.
Fitton was looking assured but Wright emerged from the break in determined mood. The world number five levelled up proceedings with a 13-darter, before producing finishes of 106 and 72 to lead 5-3. Snakebite won his fourth straight leg on D8, before rounding off a whitewash session by converting a nerveless 76 checkout.
The pair traded maximums in a high-quality eleventh leg but the advantage of throw proved critical as Wright clinched his sixth successive leg with a 14-dart leg. Fitton’s game was slowly disintegrating and Snakebite pounced. He won his seventh leg on the spin with a fine 13-darter, before sealing the win with a classy 99 checkout.
Elsewhere, Brendan Dolan produced an inspired comeback from 5-1 down to edge out Gerwyn Price in a nerve-jangling deciding leg, in a match which involved ten breaks of throw. Dolan averaged 91.36, hit seven maximums and produced three ton-plus checkouts to reach his first major quarter-final in over two years.
Price made a confident start to the contest and capitalised on a sloppy start from the Northern Irishman to establish a 4-0 lead. Dolan pinned D8 to open his account just before the interval, before Price regained his four-leg cushion after Dolan missed a dart at the bullseye to claim one break back.
However, Dolan reeled off four successive legs of his own as Price suffered a sudden dip in form, therefore the scores were level at five apiece heading into the second interval. Price stopped the rot by breaking throw immediately after the interval, but Dolan levelled up proceedings by virtue of a magnificent 160 finish.
Nevertheless, the topsy-turvy nature of this tussle continued as the pair again exchanged breaks of throw, before Dolan converted a majestic 157 kill to lead for the very first time. ‘The History-Maker’ then had the opportunity to move within a leg of victory but he spurned three darts at D5 and D1 respectively and was subsequently punished.
The momentum shifted once more as Price won back-to-back legs to move 9-8 ahead, but after the Welshman failed to convert 74 for the match, Brendan hit D2 to force a last-leg decider. Dolan had the advantage of throw and duly capitalised, kicking off with his seventh maximum, before completing his triumph with a classy 101 checkout.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
SINGHA Beer Grand Slam of Darts
Wednesday November 16
4x Second Round
Gerwyn Price 9-10 Brendan Dolan
Phil Taylor 10-5 Jeff Smith
Michael van Gerwen 10-5 Robert Thornton
Peter Wright 10-3 Darryl Fitton