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

Peter Wright can move up to number two in the world with run to semi-finals in Dublin this week

Peter Wright has the chance to move up to a career-high of number two in the world in Dublin this week.

The world number three begins his Unibet World Grand Prix campaign in the first round against former world champion Stephen Bunting tonight.

Following Gary Anderson’s withdrawal from the tournament yesterday, a run to the semi-finals for Wright this week would see him leapfrog his World Cup partner and into second on the PDC Order of Merit.

Elsewhere, Dave Chisnall’s first-round win against Jelle Klaasen has seen him open up a gap of £8,750 on Mensur Suljovic in sixth spot.

The recent Unibet Champions League of Darts winner is defending £23,500 in prize money this week after reaching the semi-finals in Dublin two years ago, while Chisnall only reached the second round of the 2015 World Grand Prix.

Alan Norris has provisionally moved into the top 16 for the first time following his comeback win over Justin Pipe last night.

The former World Championship finalist battled back from a set down to edge past Pipe in a deciding set, with the victory provisionally moving him above Ian White and into 16th place.

Robert Thornton has began his climb back up the rankings after knocking out Kim Huybrechts in the first round yesterday.

The 2015 World Grand Prix champion is defending £100,000 in prize money this week, and the Scot only got into the tournament this year following Phil Taylor’s decision not to compete.

Thornton, who was 17th in the Order of Merit heading to Dublin, is provisionally down in 24th place, but the Scot can move up another spot were he to defeat Chisnall in the second round tomorrow.

Provisional PDC Order of Merit (Players in green are still in the World Grand Prix) (as of 02/10/2017)

Pos  Player Prize Money
1 Michael van Gerwen £1,632,750
2 Gary Anderson £748,250
3 Peter Wright £738,000
4 Adrian Lewis £403,000
5 Phil Taylor £399,250
6 Dave Chisnall £348,750
7 Mensur Suljovic £340,000
8 Raymond van Barneveld £320,250
9 James Wade £309,250
10 Jelle Klaasen £297,750
11 Michael Smith £294,250
12 Daryl Gurney £287,250
13 Kim Huybrechts £273,500
14 Benito van de Pas £265,250
15 Simon Whitlock £255,250
16 Alan Norris £253,000
17 Ian White £251,000
18 Gerwyn Price £235,250
19 Joe Cullen £210,750
20 Mervyn King £186,000
21 Stephen Bunting £179,500
22 Steve Beaton £172,500
23 Darren Webster £158,750
24 Robert Thornton £158,000

Second seed Gary Anderson withdraws from World Grand Prix and is replaced by Mark Webster

Gary Anderson has withdrawn from the Unibet World Grand Prix to stay at home ahead of the impending birth of his second child with partner Rachel.

The world number two, who lost 5-2 to Michael van Gerwen in last year’s final in Dublin, was due to face debutant Richard North in the first round on Monday evening.

However, it was confirmed shortly before the start of play on Sunday that the second seed had withdrawn, electing to instead remain at his Somerset home.

Under PDC Rule 3.7, the Scot has been replaced by the next non-qualified player from the PDC Order of Merit, from which Anderson had qualified, meaning Webster takes his place in the draw bracket.

The world number 24 reached the semi-finals of the World Grand Prix on his most recent appearance in the double-start event two years ago, and also made a run to the quarter-finals on his debut back in 2011.