Sherrock and Greaves bow out of the Grand Slam but Women’s darts continues to thrive
On a dramatic night in Wolverhampton, Stephen Bunting eliminated Peter Wright from the Mr. Vegas Grand Slam of Darts, while Damon Heta defeated an impressive Beau Greaves with a composed performance.
Groups E–H concluded on Tuesday night, the fourth day of the £650,000 competition, as Greaves came dangerously close to making Grand Slam history at WV Active Aldersley.
In an attempt to become the first female group winner in the Grand Slam, the Women’s World Matchplay champion put on yet another outstanding performance in her third Group H shootout match versus Heta.
Greaves opened her account with a 101 finish, displaying no early nervousness at all. She then wired a dart at the bull for a breathtaking 170 finish.
The 19-year-old came back to finish a 14-dart hold and then extended her lead with a clinical 99 kill, but Heta came back strong, nailing 164 and 130 outshots in back-to-back legs to tie the match at three.
Greaves recovered to lead 4-3, but in the penultimate leg, she missed a match dart at double 16, and Heta took advantage to finish 105 in the decider to complete the reversal.
“Fair play to Beau! I hope she doesn’t get a Tour Card because we’re going to be in trouble,” joked Heta, who now faces three-time winner Michael van Gerwen after eliminating the teenage sensation.
“Those big finishes were extremely crucial. Every other ton-plus checkout had to go. If I didn’t hit it, I was gone.
“Beau was insane tonight. We all know what she can do and I’m shaking like crazy after that, but to get over that line is massive for me.”
In other news, Rob Cross defeated Fallon Sherrock 5-2 in their pivotal Group G match, preventing Sherrock from moving on to the knockout stage for the second time in three years.
With a 15-dart break in the first round, Sherrock got off to the ideal start. However, Cross won five of the following six legs to advance to a thrilling last-16 match against World Matchplay champion Nathan Aspinall.
“Fallon is a fantastic player,” insisted 2018 World Champion Cross, who has advanced to the knockout stage in all seven of his Grand Slam appearances.
“I have been steady in the last few games. I threw the game against Michael [van Gerwen] away in my opinion, but tonight the doubles went in and that was the difference.
“I feel great at the moment. I have still got so much more to offer, but I’m sure that will come later on [in the tournament].”
Earlier in the evening, Bunting defeated Wright in their Group E shootout with three ton-plus checkouts, condemning the world number two to his third group stage departure in four years.
After an intense first leg, Bunting bounced back with a brilliant four-leg stretch, capping finishes at 103, 101, and 107 with a 13-darter to put himself in position to win 4-1.
Bunting countered with a third maximum before Wright’s unflappable 116 skin-saver and 14-darter cut the lead to 3–4. Bunting then pinned double 16 to win.
“When you’re playing on stage against a legend like Peter it’s always difficult,” conceded Bunting, who averaged 99.38 to advance to the last 16 for the fourth time in five appearances.
“Everyone is questioning Peter’s form at the minute, but he’s one of the best players in the world, and every time I play him it’s always a huge battle.
“I held it together well and I’m so happy to be through to the next round. I’ve put a lot of hard work in behind the scenes, so this is a special moment.”
In order to advance to the round of eight, Bunting will face world number seven Danny Noppert. Brendan Dolan was defeated by the Dutchman in a last-leg match to secure first place in Group F with maximum points.
Noppert needed four legs against Dolan to guarantee his spot in the knockout round. Once he established a 4-2 lead, he withstood the Northern Irishman’s late charge to win with a 124 outshot on the bull.
With a dominant 5-1 victory over PDC Asian Champion Haruki Muramatsu, UK Open champion Andrew Gilding also verified his qualification as the Group F runner-up.
After Gilding ripped off five straight legs without answering, including a 136 finish in the penultimate leg, Muramatsu took the lead with a 101 checkout.
Gilding’s next challenge is to take on American rookie Stowe Buntz, who finished first in Group E despite losing to 2014 runner-up Dave Chisnall in the final leg, which was a great way for him to end his season.
In a tense Group G match, Van Gerwen overcame a 4-2 deficit to upset his eliminated countrymate Martijn Kleermaker, preserving his perfect record in the process.
Aspinall’s subpar performance was punished by Germany’s Ricardo Pietreczko, who won their nine-leg match; nonetheless, Aspinall was guaranteed to remain top of Group H thanks to Heta’s victory over Greaves.
2023 Mr Vegas Grand Slam of Darts
Tuesday November 14
Group Stage x8 – Groups E-H Final Matches
Dave Chisnall 5-4 Stowe Buntz (E)
Ricardo Pietreczko 5-4 Nathan Aspinall (H)
Michael van Gerwen 5-4 Martijn Kleermaker (G)
Andrew Gilding 5-1 Haruki Muramatsu (F)
Danny Noppert 5-4 Brendan Dolan (F)
Stephen Bunting 5-3 Peter Wright (E)
Rob Cross 5-2 Fallon Sherrock (G)
Damon Heta 5-4 Beau Greaves (H)
Wednesday November 15 (1900-2300 GMT)
Second Round x4
Josh Rock v Krzysztof Ratajski
James Wade v Chris Dobey
Gerwyn Price v Gary Anderson
Luke Humphries v Ryan Searle
Thursday November 16 (1900-2300 GMT)
Second Round x4
Stowe Buntz v Andrew Gilding
Danny Noppert v Stephen Bunting
Michael van Gerwen v Damon Heta
Nathan Aspinall v Rob Cross
Best of 19 legs