Friday, 30 December 2011

G'Day for Simon Whitlock

Simon Whitlock withstood a terrific fightback from Michael van Gerwen to book his place in the quarter-finals of the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship with a 4-3 victory over the Dutchman.

Whitlock looked to be cruising to an easy win as he took advantage of an erratic display early on from van Gerwen to pull into a 3-0 lead.

Van Gerwen kicked off the match with a maximum on his first visit but still ended up losing the leg after missing four darts at a double.

That rather summed up his display for the first three sets as he mixed numerous 180s with even more missed doubles allowing the clinical Whitlock to take complete control.

With the darts in the fourth set, the Australian looked poised to close out the match, especially after taking the opening leg.

But van Gerwen suddenly found his form and, after hitting back in the next, he checked out 72 and then 53 to get on the board at 3-1.

That breathed renewed life into the contest as the resurgent Dutchman began to find the accuracy on his doubles to match his heavy scoring.

After taking the last two legs of the fifth set to stay alive, he breezed through the sixth without dropping a leg to level at 3-3 with Whitlock suddenly cutting a fragile figure.

But, having got back on terms, the Dutchman lost his way in the decider after being broken in the opening leg.

Whitlock checked out 96 to move within one of victory and then, after van Gerwen missed a dart at tops to stay alive, took out 52 to get over the line.

"Relief is the biggest thing, Mikey came back at me so well and he played some fantastic darts - I've just got to take my hat off to him," the Australian told Sky Sports afterwards.

Of his broken ankle, he added: "The ankle feels good actually, the pain disappears when you win!

"I believe I can win this tournament now, I'm throwing good darts, you've just got to believe in yourself."
Anderson in a hurry

Gary Anderson conjured a quite sensational display to seal a showdown with Whitlock in the next round as he brushed aside Colin Lloyd 4-1.

The Scot started sluggishly and was rather fortunate to pinch the first set after hitting double-one in the deciding leg.

But he then produced an extraordinary display of darts to double his advantage, producing legs of 11, 12 and then 10 darts to wrap up the set in just 4 minutes and 13 seconds with a three-dart average of 125.5.

His standards slipped in the next as he required a whole 5 minutes and 23 seconds to extend his lead to 3-0, this time averaging 107.

The Scot took the opening leg of the fourth to make it eight legs in a row, but Lloyd showed some character to stop the rot and even fought back to take the set against the darts.

But it proved a temporary reprieve as Anderson rediscovered his flow in the next, taking it three legs to nil to clinch victory and finish with an overall three-dart average of 101.

The Scot said afterwards: "We're warming up now, I struggled the first two games but I think I've woken up so we'll see what happens now. I'm looking forward to it."

Of his clash with Whitlock he added: "He's doing alright for playing on one leg, if it's that sore I'll give it a kick and really see how sore it is!"
Easy for Hamilton

The other match of the evening session was a far less tense affair as Andy Hamilton comprehensively beat Dave Chisnall 4-0.

Chisnall never came close to hitting the heights of his victory over 15-time world champion Phil Taylor in the previous round and departed the tournament with barely a whimper.

Indeed, Chisnall managed just five legs in the entire contest as he was blown away by Hamilton who now meets Belgium's Kim Huybrechts in the last eight.

The decisive moment of the match came in the second set when, having taken out 127 to move two legs to one ahead, Chisnall allowed Hamilton to come from way back to steal the final two legs and the set - the Hammer checking out 120 to ease 2-0 up.

From that point he was always in control and almost closed out the match with a 170 finish only to hit the inner ring with his third dart. But he duly returned a couple of visits later to seal a facile triumph.