A confident Simon Whitlock finished with a flash, throwing four 180s in the last two legs—each of which was won in 11 darts—to beat Mervyn King 6-1, in the third round of the HappyBet International Darts Open.
Both players started slowly, but Whitlock pounced after King missed the bull for a 170 out in the fourth leg, earning the first break of the match.
“That was a turning point,” Whitlock told Love The Darts. “If I miss the bull for a 170 and my opponent takes out the next finish, it deflates you.”
Whitlock consolidated the break in the next leg for 4-1, before he accelerated for the finish line. Whitlock couldn’t be touched, throwing in consecutive 11-darters, with a pair of 180s in each.
“I think my game’s really solid at the moment,” Whitlock said. “I feel confident and that’s the important thing.”
Ian White also put in one of the top performances of the afternoon, but it was not enough to get past Kim Huybrechts.
White could have struck first blood in leg three, earning two darts to break. But he missed inside, and Huybrechts held with a two-dart 74 out, before breaking White’s throw in the next leg.
But White fought back, winning the next two legs to get back to level pegging. In the seventh leg, White was first to a finish against the throw, but missed bull for a 124. Huybrechts then got a dart at bull himself from 127, nailing it to move back into the lead.
“I knew if I missed, Ian [White] was going to have two darts at double,” Huybrechts told Love The Darts after the match. “Ian White is one of the players who is very good on his own leg, so I knew it would be very difficult if I missed that shot.”
White kept in the match, holding the next two legs, one with a 116-out and the other in 11 darts.
But Huybrechts kicked off the decider with a 180, before adding another to leave 61 after nine. With White still not a finish, he landed double eight two visits later to complete the 6-5 win. The win continues a bounce-back weekend for the world number 13, after a poor run of form since the end of the Premier League.
“Last couple of months have been real hard on me,” Huybrechts said after his win. “I’ve had a couple of injuries, my mom died, moving—and all those things have affected my game.
“I was happy with the way I felt and with the way I was myself again on stage.”
Earlier in the afternoon, Peter Wright moved into the quarter-finals with a 6-4 win over Ronny Huybrechts, despite missing his first 11 darts at double.
Both players struggled to get going, exchanging six holds of throw. But Wright broke in the seventh leg, landing double 14 after Huybrechts missed double 16.
In the tenth leg, Huybrechts had two darts to break back and send the match to a decider, but he missed. Wright stepped in and hit double four to win.
Wright will play Jelle Klaasen in the quarter-final, after Klaasen saw off a game Peter Jacques 6-4.
Jacques twice broke into the lead, but Klaasen immediately leveled, first at 2-2 and again at 4-4. Klaasen then threw in a 13-dart hold to lead 5-4.
In the final leg, Klaasen had six darts from 127 to wrap up the match, but could only manage a dart at bull. But Jacques couldn’t punish him, missing double 16 and then three more at double after Klaasen failed to clean up 25.
But Klaasen got over the line next visit to reach his second Euro Tour quarter-final on the bounce.
In the third match, Dave Chisnall looked like he was too much for Dennis Nilsson, but the Swede continued his fairytale run, overturning a 3-0 deficit to win 6-5.
Chisnall got out of the blocks quickly, not even giving Nilsson a chance at an outshot during the first three legs. But he missed two darts at double in the fourth leg, allowing Nilsson to punish with a 120 outshot.
Nilsson leveled at three before missing three darts at double to break in the seventh leg. Chisnall cleaned up, and the two exchanged holds to 5-5.
In the final leg, the crowd got behind the Swede, cheering each time Chisnall missed the treble, and it seemed to affect the world number six. He went six visits without a treble and required 21 darts to leave a finish.
Nilsson eventually took out double 18 to advance to a Euro Tour quarter-final on debut.
He will face another unseeded player in the quarter-final, Netherlands’ Ron Meulenkamp, who beat John Payne 6-3.
Meulenkamp—who averaged over 100 much of the match before finishing with a 96 average—pressured Payne’s throw early on, but couldn’t get a break, as Payne took out 72 and 130 in his first two legs with throw.
But after holding for 3-2, Meulenkamp finally earned an opportunity, leaving tops after 12 darts. He took it out, and never looked back from there.
Gerwyn Price put in one of his best performances on the European Tour stage, as he beat defending champion Mensur Suljovic in a last-leg decider.
After Suljovic broke in the first leg, Price wheeled off three legs on the spin, including two breaks of throw, to grab the lead.
But Suljovic bounced back, winning consecutive 15-dart legs with outs of 75 and 120.
Suljovic took the lead for the first time at 5-4, breaking in fourteen darts, before leaving 110 for the match in the tenth leg. Suljovic missed a dart at double 18, and Price stepped in to hit 112 on tops to send the match to a decider.
Price then powered home, kicking off with visits of 134, 177, and 130 to leave 60 after nine, before eventually finishing off a 14-darter on double 10 for a 6-5 win.
Both players averaged north of 100 for the match, and Suljovic only missed two darts at double. Price meets Kim Huybrechts later tonight.
Joe Cullen, who had the best performance of the second round, could not match the sparkling heights of Saturday, but still progressed with a 6-3 win over Alan Norris.
Neither player had a good look at the other’s throw for the first five legs, as Norris moved into a narrow 3-2 lead. The sixth leg was not much different, except that Cullen kicked off with six perfect darts before taking out 76 for a 12-dart hold.
Cullen would earn the first break opportunity in the next leg, hitting 174 to leave 36 after 12. Norris failed to take out 116, and Cullen landed double 18 to move into the lead.
He would never look back, taking the next two legs without much bother to complete a regulation win over a sub-par Norris. Cullen plays Whitlock in the last quarter-final tonight.
Picture: PDC Europe