Gerwyn Price overcame a second-round scare at the PDC world darts championship, battling past his Welsh compatriot, Jamie Lewis, in an entertaining five-set encounter.
Lewis, a former semi-finalist at this tournament, has struggled with poor form this year but started well against the No 3 seed, winning the first set 3-1 as Price slipped to a 77 average. Despite struggling to find a rhythm, Price bounced back to level at 1-1 and then hit checkouts of 104, 73 and 160 to take the third set.
Price looked in control but Lewis fired back with a 110 finish of his own, then broke his opponent’s throw to set up a decider. ‘The Iceman’ was under pressure but got a lucky break when Lewis inadvertently hit a treble-16, busting his score. Price nailed a 116 checkout to break, and closed out victory on double top.
“I just couldn’t get going,” Price said afterwards. “It doesn’t matter how someone’s played in the past. Jamie didn’t play brilliant but he played better than he has. I was thinking about that and that’s where I went wrong.”
Price is not exactly a fan favourite at Alexandra Palace, but even he admitted to missing the crowd with the tournament taking place behind closed doors. “It’s different without them. I know they get on my back a lot, but it gives me that energy. Sometimes when you can’t get going, you need that crowd to push you on a little bit.”
Ian White became the highest seed to crash out of the draw, the world No 10 losing 3-1 to Kim Huybrechts in a high-scoring contest. Both players averaged more than 100 but White was punished for poor finishing, hitting just eight of 32 doubles attempted as he fell at the first hurdle for the third year in a row.
Huybrechts took a 2-0 lead in the first set and although White rallied with a 127 checkout, the Belgian broke straight back with a 121 checkout. With the second set poised at two legs each, White could not take out 32 with three darts and his opponent took advantage.
White rallied to win the third set but Huybrechts got the crucial break at 1-1 in the fourth, taking out 39 after White had again missed multiple chances to hold. “These are the games you spend all year working for,” Huybrechts said after closing out victory. “When it all comes together on that stage, wow. What a relief.”
Huybrechts will play Ryan Searle, who upset No 23 seed Jeffrey de Zwaan on Sunday, in the third round. Either could prove a dangerous outsider in Peter Wright’s quarter of the draw, which also includes James Wade and Krzysztof Ratajski, who hit an 11-dart leg on his way to a 3-0 win over Ryan Joyce 3-0 in Monday night’s opening match.
Ratajski’s victory was tinged with sadness, however, with the No 15 seed unable to return to his native Poland due to travel restrictions. “I am here for Christmas and it’s really hard for me because I would like to stay with my family at home and celebrate,” he said. “But the border with Poland is closed and I don’t have a choice.”
In the final match of Monday’s evening session, Gabriel Clemens overcame Nico Kurz in the first-ever all-German encounter at the PDC world championships. Clemens, the No 31 seed, will face defending champion Wright in the third round.
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