Robert Thornton survives five match darts against Dave Chisnall to progress to World Grand Prix quarter-finals

Robert Thornton became the first player to reach the quarter-finals of the Unibet World Grand Prix after surviving five match darts to beat Dave Chisnall 3-2 in the second round in Dublin.

The Scot’s bid to win a second World Grand Prix title in three years looked set to end when Chisnall came from a set down to lead 2-1 in the match and then take the lead in the deciding set.

Thornton had earlier produced a superb opening set, hitting successive 14-darters before sealing the set with a 98 finish, with Chisnall taking the second set 3-1 with the aid of a 100 checkout on two double tops to level.

Thornton then opened set three with a 123 checkout and also took out 90 on the bull to force a decider in leg four, only for world number seven Chisnall to claim the decider with a brilliant 130 finish to move 2-1 up in sets.

But the 2015 World Grand Prix champion replied by winning the fourth set 3-1 to send the last 16 clash all the way to a decider, only for Chisnall to then move 2-1 up in the final set.

Chisnall, a runner-up in the double-start tournament back in 2013, then crucially missed five match darts in leg four, which allowed the Scot to scramble home on double ten to keep his hopes alive.

Thornton punished four missed opening doubles from Chisnall in the sudden-death leg with tops to seal his place in a first TV ranking quarter-final since the 2015 Grand Slam of Darts.

“I’m over the moon,” Thornton said. “I thought I threw it away after a great first set but I dug deep and fought back.

“This format is brilliant and for the last couple of weeks I’ve been practising my doubles and they’re the important thing in this event.

“I’m not in as good form as I was two years ago when I won it but it seems to be getting better.

“My first game was scrappy and went to a deciding leg too but the bookies write me off all the time and I’ve proved I can hold my bottle up there.”

Picture: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

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Dave Chisnall averages 101 and is 6/6 on finishing doubles in 2-0 win against Jelle Klaasen in World Grand Prix first round

Dave Chisnall produced the most impressive performance of the opening night of the Unibet World Grand Prix, averaging 101 and hitting six finishing doubles from as many attempts to beat Jelle Klaasen 2-0 in the first round.

The world number seven, a finalist in the double-start tournament in Dublin back in 2013, kicked off his latest bid for a maiden major with an eye-catching display on Sunday night.

Trailing 2-1 in the opening set, Chisnall fought back with finishes of 101 and 80, punishing Klaasen for failing to close out the deciding leg, before taking set two without reply with the aid of two 12-darters.

“I’m really happy, it’s great to play so well,” said Chisnall, who also hit six 180s in his first-round win.

“I missed a couple of doubles to start but my finishing was really good.

“I had to play well to beat Jelle and I did. I’m glad to win tonight and I can come back on Tuesday for the second round now, I love it here.”

Picture: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

World number 32 John Henderson dumps out defending champion Michael van Gerwen in World Grand Prix first round

John Henderson pulled off the biggest win of his career to knock out defending champion Michael van Gerwen in the first round of the Unibet World Grand Prix.

World number one van Gerwen had won three of the last five titles at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin, but the Dutchman suffered a first-round exit in the double-start tournament for the first time since his debut in 2009 after losing in a dramatic last-leg decider with Henderson.

The Scot punished a slow start from the top seed to take a 2-0 lead in the opening set, and although van Gerwen won the next two legs to force a decider it was Henderson who capitalised on six missed opening doubles from his opponent to claim the set on double 10.

Van Gerwen bounced back after the break by winning the second set in straight legs, but he was unable to find a break of throw as the third set went to a sudden-death leg.

Henderson kicked off the decider with scores of 120 and 140 to edge clear, with van Gerwen replying with four 96s, but the Scot was first to a double and hit tops to secure a memorable win.

“It’s probably the best win of my career on television,” said the world number 32, whose most recent win on TV had been in the second round of the 2015 European Championship more than 700 days ago.

“I played really well in the Players Championships over the weekend so my form was good but against Michael you expect to be the underdog – he’s the main man at the minute.

“It’s not often Michael plays like that so you’ve got to jump on it when he does and I have tonight, so I’m glad to be through.

“I knew there was going to be a big comeback from Michael but luckily for me I got there in the end.

“It’s been my night and I’m going to enjoy it – I’ve got to try and come down from this and hopefully I can progress.”

Picture: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Daryl Gurney confident of chances in World Grand Prix after edging past fourth seed Adrian Lewis in first round

Daryl Gurney booked his place in the second round of the Unibet World Grand Prix with a 2-1 win over fourth seed Adrian Lewis.

The Northern Irishman, who reached the quarter-finals in Dublin twelve months ago, is closing in on the top 10 on the PDC Order of Merit for the first time.

But after seeing off the two-time world champion in a deciding set, the world number 12 could not be blamed for having his eyes on a maiden TV title, and he believes he has the game to win one.

“I knew if I could play my best game I could beat Adrian,” said Gurney. “I try my best in every game and I know I can win a TV tournament – if I switch it on this week then I know I can beat anybody, and so does everyone else.”

Gurney breezed through the opening set against Lewis 3-0, with the help of a 132 checkout, via two bullseyes and double 16, in leg two, before Lewis, a finalist in the World Grand Prix back in 2010, clinched the second set in a deciding leg, taking out 77 to level the match.

Lewis would have no answer for Gurney in the third set though, as the US Darts Masters runner-up reeled off three straight legs to secure his place in the last 16 and a clash with Joe Cullen on Tuesday.

“Joe Cullen firmly believes he’s going to beat me in the next game because he’s got a very good record against me,” Gurney said, “but he hasn’t played me on TV yet, where I’m a better player.”

Match Statistics: Adrian Lewis (87.49), 100+ 17, 140+ 5, 180s 3, Highest checkout 124, 100+ checkouts 1, Checkouts 3/13 (23.08%). Daryl Gurney (90.09), 100+ 13, 140+ 7, 180s 5, Highest checkout 132, 100+ checkouts 1, Checkouts 8/29 (27.59%).

Picture: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

2015 champion Robert Thornton comes from behind to knock out Kim Huybrechts in World Grand Prix opener

Robert Thornton began his unlikely bid for a second Unibet World Grand Prix title in three years with a comeback 2-1 win against Kim Huybrechts in the first round.

The world number 17, who stunned Michael van Gerwen 5-4 in the final in Dublin two years ago as an 80/1 pre-tournament outsider, is only in the field due to 11-time champion Phil Taylor’s decision not to compete in the double-start tournament.

But the Scot is determined to make the most of his reprieve and showed a steely determination to come from a set behind to beat Huybrechts 2-1 in the first round.

The Belgian came into the tournament in good form having reached the final of the HappyBet International Darts Open last weekend, and he raced through the opening set in three straight legs.

However, Thornton fought back after the break, taking the second set 3-1 to level the tie before firing in a 157 checkout to establish a 2-0 lead in the decider.

Huybrechts responded with back-to-back legs to force a deciding leg, but the world number 13 was left waiting on a double as Thornton found tops with his last dart to seal a comeback win.

“I always seem to make it hard for myself in the first round here but I’m delighted to get through,” said Thornton, who has now gone to a deciding set in five of his eight first-round games in the World Grand Prix.

“Kim’s one of the toughest players out there but he missed a few starting doubles and I took my chances.

“I’ve got good memories here and it’s good to be in the second round again.”

Match Statistics: Robert Thornton (78.93), 100+ 14, 140+ 6, 180s 2, Highest checkout 157, 100+ checkouts 1, Checkouts 6/14 (42.86%). Kim Huybrechts (85.82), 100+ 11, 140+ 6, 180s 5, Highest checkout 76, 100+ checkouts 0, Checkouts 6/15 (40.00%).

Picture: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Alan Norris fights back from a set down to beat Justin Pipe in opening game of World Grand Prix in Dublin

Alan Norris fought back from a set down to defeat Justin Pipe 2-1 to reach the last 16 of the Unibet World Grand Prix for a second year running.

The world number 18 has enjoyed runs to the semi-finals of the UK Open and the quarter-finals of the World Matchplay this year, but at one set behind and trailing 2-1 in the second set to Pipe he looked to be heading for an early exit in Dublin.

Pipe, a semi-finalist in the World Grand Prix back in 2013, produced a 170 checkout in the second leg of the match as he went on to claim the opening set 3-1.

A 104 finish on double 12 gave Norris the first leg in the next set, before Pipe picked up the next two legs to go 2-1 up and begin the fourth leg throwing for a place in the second round.

However, on the brink of defeat Norris replied with back-to-back 12 darters, including finishes of 101 and 102, to take the set 3-2 and force a deciding set.

Norris had begun to find his range and after kicking off the last two legs of set two with a 160, the 45-year-old began the first two legs of the deciding set with 160 starts as he moved 2-0 up.

Pipe kept his hopes alive with a 58 checkout to hold throw in the next leg, but an 81 finish on the bullseye moved the Yeovil-born ace into the last 16 of the double-start tournament for the second year running.

Match Statistics: Alan Norris (81.72), 100+ 17, 140+ 9, 180s 0, Highest checkout 104, 100+ checkouts 3, Checkouts 7/18 (38.89%). Justin Pipe (81.53), 100+ 16, 140+ 8, 180s 1, Highest checkout 170, 100+ checkouts 1, Checkouts 6/13 (46.15%).

Picture: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

James Wade keeps hopes of qualifying for European Championship alive by securing place in final European Tour event

James Wade kept his chances of qualifying for the Unibet European Championship alive after booking his place in the HappyBet European Darts Trophy – the last event on this year’s European Tour – last night.

The world number 10 has played in all nine European Championships to be held so far, but heading into last night’s UK Qualifier for the 12th European Tour event he found himself outside of the top 32 qualifying places.

But Wade, a guest on this week’s Weekly Dartscast podcast, squeezed through two deciding legs to secure his spot in Gottingen, as he headlined a list of 18 qualifiers at the end of play in Dublin.

Wade battled past Wayne Jones, this year’s Unicorn Challenge Tour Order of Merit winner, with a 6-5 victory in his opener, and then edged out South Africa’s Devon Petersen by the same scoreline in the final round.

Former European Championship winner Adrian Lewis, who missed the event last year, will also miss out on playing in Hasselt for a second year running after losing in the UK Qualifier last night.

The world number five, who beat Simon Whitlock 11-6 in the 2013 final, lost 6-2 to Chris Quantock in the first round which means he can no longer qualify for the European Championship, joining fellow former world champions Gary Anderson, Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld in being out of the field in Hasselt.

HappyBet European Darts Trophy UK Qualifier
Preliminary Round
Warrick Scheffer 6-4 Darren Johnson
Terry Temple 6-4 Aden Kirk
Richie Burnett 6-2 Tony Newell
Peter Jacques 6-4 Harry Robinson
Paul Nicholson 6-2 Robert Owen
Lee Bryant 6-2 Richie Corner
Craig Gilchrist 6-4 Brendan Dolan
John Norman Jnr 6-2 Wes Newton

First Round
Steve Beaton 6-1 Ryan Meikle
Andy Boulton 6-3 Dean Forde
Keegan Brown 6-4 Kyle Anderson
William O’Connor 6-5 Jamie Bain
Darren Webster 6-2 Andy Hamilton
Mick Todd 6-4 Brian Woods
Stephen Bunting 6-3 Peter Hudson
Callum Loose 6-2 Joe Murnan
Luke Woodhouse 6-4 John Henderson
Jonathan Worsley 6-5 Ross Twell
James Wade 6-5 Wayne Jones
Devon Petersen 6-4 Callan Rydz
Chris Quantock 6-2 Adrian Lewis
Mick McGowan 6-3 Steve Hine
Steve West 6-0 David Pallett
Diogo Portela 6-2 Jim Walker
Justin Pipe 6-4 Matthew Dennant
Jamie Caven 6-2 Mickey Mansell
Robert Thornton 6-2 Stephen Burton
Ryan Searle 6-2 John Part
Richard North 6-0 Ritchie Edhouse
Ricky Evans 6-4 Darren Johnson
Chris Dobey 6-3 Paul Harvey
Terry Temple 6-4 Ted Evetts
James Wilson 6-1 Kirk Shepherd
Richie Burnett 6-3 Mark Walsh
Jonny Clayton 6-3 Scott Taylor
Peter Jacques 6-3 Matt Clark
John Bowles 6-3 Mark Webster
Andrew Gilding 6-5 Paul Nicholson
Kevin Painter 6-5 Ryan Palmer
Steve Lennon 6-1 Lee Bryant
James Richardson 6-2 Simon Stevenson
Josh Payne 6-3 Craig Gilchrist
Jamie Lewis 6-2 Andy Jenkins
Nathan Aspinall 6-2 John Norman Jnr

Final Round
Andy Boulton 6-4 Steve Beaton
Keegan Brown 6-3 William O’Connor
Mick Todd 6-5 Darren Webster
Stephen Bunting 6-1 Callum Loose
Jonathan Worlsey 6-3 Luke Woodhouse
James Wade 6-5 Devon Petersen
Chris Quantock 6-2 Mick McGowan
Steve West 6-4 Diogo Portela
Jamie Caven 6-4 Justin Pipe
Robert Thornton 6-2 Ryan Searle
Ricky Evans 6-4 Richard North
Chris Dobey 6-1 Terry Temple
James Wilson 6-1 Richie Burnett
Jonny Clayton 6-4 Peter Jacques
John Bowles 6-4 Andrew Gilding
Kevin Painter 6-4 Steve Lennon
James Richardson 6-4 Josh Payne
Nathan Aspinall 6-5 Jamie Lewis