GIBRALTAR DARTS TROPHY SUPER SULJOVIC SINKS PRICE
On a dramatic day of second round action at the Gibraltar Darts Trophy, Mensur Suljovic knocked out defending champion Gerwyn Price, while Nathan Aspinall produced one of the greatest comebacks in European Tour history on Saturday.
Price sent packing
The final PDC European Tour event of the year will be held at Gibraltar’s Victoria Stadium, with £140,000 and a place in the upcoming Cazoo European Championship on offer.
Price will be one of the top names in Dortmund, but the Welshman was sent packing in Gibraltar by a nerveless Suljovic, who exacted revenge for his 8-0 loss to Price in last year’s final.
Price took a 3-2 lead with 110 and 160 checkouts, but Suljovic responded magnificently, winning four of the last five legs with back-to-back 13-darters in the final stages.
Aspinall stuns Van der Voort
However, Aspinall stole the show with an incredible comeback against Vincent van der Voort, coming back from 5-0 down to stun the Dutchman earlier in the afternoon.
Van der Voort took advantage of Aspinall’s poor start to establish a commanding lead, but after squandering five match darts for a 6-1 victory, the Dutchman began to falter and Aspinall stormed back.
The World Grand Prix runner-up followed a 121 finish in leg eight with 14 and 15-darters to tie the match at five apiece, before surviving two more match darts in an incredible finale, pinning double 4 to progress.
Wright and Van Gerwen comfortable
Michael van Gerwen, who defeated Aspinall to win the World Grand Prix last weekend, demonstrated his title credentials with a sparkling performance against Steve Beaton, winning 6-3 in a high-quality tussle.
The three-time champion fired three 180s and a fantastic 130 finish on the bull to keep his blistering form going, while Beaton bowed out despite averaging 102.
World Champion Peter Wright ended home hopes in Gibraltar, winning 6-2 against Host Nation Qualifier Craig Galliano after reeling off five consecutive legs.
Galliano, who had a day off from his police work, raised the roof with a superb 120 checkout in leg two, but Wright responded with consecutive 14-darters and a 116 combination midway through to end the youngsters hopes.
Young Guns fire
Top seed Luke Humphries scored lavishly in his match against Belgian qualifier Kenny Neyens, averaging 99, landing five 180s, and registering a pair of 11-darters to win 6-3.
Humphries, who is competing for the first time since the birth of his first child, Rowan, earlier this week, will now face Wesley Plaisier, who defeated Belgian Darts Open champion Dave Chisnall 6-3 to keep his European Championship qualification hopes alive.
Plaisier overcame Chisnall’s ton-plus average to win a high-quality battle, hitting a 126 combination in leg six before finishing with a fine 101 checkout.
Josh Rock continued his dream 2022 campaign with a 6-3 victory over former Gibraltar Darts Trophy winner Michael Smith, converting six of his 11 double attempts to set up a mouth-watering last 16 match against Jonny Clayton.
Seeds saunter through
Clayton easily defeated Stephen Bunting 6-2 to advance to Sunday’s third round, kicking off proceedings with a 122 checkout, with Bunting unable to replicate his 105 average from his first round win over Daryl Gurney.
Damon Heta advanced to Sunday’s finals with a 6-4 victory over Chris Dobey, and he will now renew his rivalry with Masters champion Joe Cullen, who survived a late onslaught from Ritchie Edhouse to win by the same scoreline.
Dirk van Duijvenbode overcame a scare from Jason Lowe to meet comeback king Aspinall in round three, while Jose De Sousa will face Van Gerwen on Sunday afternoon after defeating a returning Rowby-John Rodriguez 6-3.
In other action, fifth seed Rob Cross held off a late rally from Austrian youngster Rusty-Jake Rodriguez in Saturday’s opener. His reward is a match-up against Ryan Joyce, who came back from a 5-3 deficit to defeat UK Open champion Danny Noppert.
In the last 16, Searle will face World Champion Wright, who averaged 98 and produced two ton-plus finishes to end William O’Connor’s European Championship qualification hopes.
Meanwhile, Gabriel Clemens will face Price’s conqueror Suljovic for a place in the last eight after defeating a below-par Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-1 in the evening’s penultimate match.
The last 16 will be played on Sunday afternoon, followed by the quarter-finals, semi-finals, and final in an evening session.
Plaisier will qualify for the European Championship if he defeats Humphries, while Suljovic and Joyce must win to secure their places in Dortmund. Chris Dobey and Krzysztof Ratajski are the two players who could miss out.