Peter Wright avoided a huge scare as he battled back from 3-0 and 8-6 down to beat James Wilson 10-8 in the first round of the World Matchplay tonight.
The UK Open champion looked destined to be heading for an early exit at the Winter Gardens this year, as debutant Wilson took an early lead which he maintained for the majority of the game.
However, missed doubles at crucial times proved costly for Wilson, as Wright won four legs in a row to squeeze through a 10-8 winner in the last match of the opening night in Blackpool.
It was a confident start for Wilson as the Huddersfield ace landed a 12 darter on his way to opening up a surprise 3-0 lead over the third seed.
Wright showed some resistance by taking the next two legs to only trail 3-2 at the first break, but Wilson responded brilliantly with legs in 11 and 10 darts helping him regain his three-leg cushion.
The World Matchplay debutant established leads of 6-3 and 7-4 and, despite Wright checking out 78 for a break to close to 7-6 behind, a superb 127 checkout on the bullseye moved him two legs away from the finishing line.
However, missed doubles in the next two legs from Wilson proved to be the turning point and the catalyst of a late fightback from Wright.
The number three seed finally claimed the 16th leg in 22 darts to level up at 8-8, but only after Wilson had missed the chance to go 9-7 in front.
Wright then hit double eight in the next leg to go ahead for the first time in the match, before an impressive 147 checkout in the 18th leg sealed a comeback win for the Scot.
“I’d have been distraught if I’d lost but I got through it,” Wright said.
“James was very nervous and I was too, coming here as the number three seed.
“I played rubbish in Shanghai and Las Vegas, I brought 10 sets of darts with me and I didn’t know what darts to use – it feels like I’ve never thrown a dart in my life before and it’s really weird.
“I won’t be using these darts again and I can go back and prepare for my next match now. I got away with it.”
Wright (89.26): 100+ 23, 140+ 15; 180s 2, Highest checkout 147, Checkout percentage 10/33 30.3% Wilson (90.51): 100+ 22, 140+ 10, 180s 4, Highest checkout 127, Checkout percentage 8/24 33.33%