Michael van Gerwen began the defence of his Shanghai Darts Masters title in style as he averaged 112.70 and hit a 170 checkout in a 6-0 whitewash of Hai Long Chen in the first round earlier today.
The world number one made a statement of intent as he reeled off six straight legs to beat the Chinese qualifier and set up a clash with rival Phil Taylor in the quarter-finals on Friday.
“I played phenomenally tonight and I will have to do it again against Phil tomorrow,” the defending champion said.
“I always have great matches against Phil but my performance today will send a message to the rest and also give me a lot of confidence.”
Taylor was also in good form on the opening day at the Hotel Pullman, averaging 104.21 in a 6-1 victory over South Korean qualifier Hyun Chul Park.
The 16-time world champion quickly took a 2-0 lead, before then holding throw in the third leg on double 12 to pull a leg back, but it was to be his only winning leg as Taylor took the next four to get over the line.
“I don’t get nervous as much anymore but when he won the bullseye I was a bit worried,” Taylor said.
“I didn’t know much about my opponent beforehand but he really impressed me and hopefully we see him again.”
Dubai Darts Masters champion Gary Anderson kicked off his bid for back-to-back World Series titles with an impressive display, averaging 108.65 in a 6-0 whitewash of Chinese qualifier Wei Hong Li.
The 2015 and 2016 world champion fired in three 180s and was 6/9 on the doubles, with a 121 finish in the opening leg setting the tone for a comfortable victory for the Scot.
“You can see the commitment to the game over here and in a few years we might be in trouble,” Anderson said.
“I just play darts, I’m not worried about what the others do. I’ll do my best and see what happens.”
Anderson will face Raymond van Barneveld in the quarter-finals tomorrow after the Dutchman booked his place in the last eight with a whitewash win against Chinese qualifier Cheng An Liu.
The five-time world champion, who was playing his first televised match since switching darts manufacturers to Target, averaged in the low 80s and was 6/16 on the doubles, but it was enough to advance to the final day.
“Gary is one of the best players in the world so I’ll need to get in a bit more practice with the new darts before tomorrow,” van Barneveld said.
“6-0 is a great result, I can’t do any better than that so it’s a good start to the tournament for me.”
World number three Peter Wright began his bid for a 10th tournament victory of the season with an excellent performance, as he averaged 106.09 in a whitewash win over former World Cup quarter-finalist Haruki Muramatsu.
Wright, who won his ninth title of 2017 in Leverkusen at the weekend, hit three maximums, fired in a 138 checkout and was 6/9 on the doubles in a 6-0 win.
The Scot will go up against James Wade in the quarter-finals tomorrow after the multiple time major winner eased past young Chinese qualifier Xiao Chen Zong 6-0.
Elsewhere, Dave Chisnall and Gerwyn Price will lock horns in the quarter-finals on Friday following comprehensive first round wins against Asian opposition today.
Chisnall took out 144 and hit three 180s on his way to a 6-1 win over recent World Cup star Paul Lim, while Price fired in five maximums and a 156 finish in a 6-2 triumph against Hong Kong’s Royden Lam.
2017 Shanghai Darts Masters
Thursday, July 6
Gerwyn Price 6-2 Royden Lam
Raymond van Barneveld 6-0 Cheng An Liu
James Wade 6-0 Xiao Chen Zong
Phil Taylor 6-1 Hyun Chul Park
Dave Chisnall 6-1 Paul Lim
Peter Wright 6-0 Haruki Muramatsu
Michael van Gerwen 6-0 Hai Long Chen
Gary Anderson 6-0 Wei Hong Li
All games are the best of 11 legs
Friday, July 7 (6.30pm local time)
Gary Anderson v Raymond van Barneveld
Gerwyn Price v Dave Chisnall
Michael van Gerwen v Peter Wright
Peter Wright v James Wade
Anderson/Van Barneveld v Price/Chisnall
Van Gerwen/Taylor v Wright/Wade
All games are the best of 15 legs