Anderson and Van Gerwen set for Melbourne clash

Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson will face off in the quarter-finals of the 2019 Melbourne Darts Masters after the pair comfortably came through their first round matches at Melbourne Arena. 

The opening night of action also saw Brisbane Darts Masters champion Damon Heta produce another superb performance to beat James Wade for the second time in a week.

Meanwhile, Raymond van Barneveld produced the performance of the day with a 106 average and 75% on his doubles as he brushed aside Haupai Puha. 

Anderson booked his place in the last eight with a 6-0 whitewash win over James Bailey with the Scot averaging 96.97 on his way to the win.

The 48-year-old, who had to take time away from the sport earlier in the year with a back injury, is looking for his first individual title of 2019 and believes the form is starting to come back.

“It’s getting there. I had six months off and in the past I could just get right back into it.

“It has not turned out that way and it has been a hell of a difference.

“It’s going to be hard work I think, I need to get back into it. I know what I need to do.”

The win sets up a mouth-watering clash with world number one Van Gerwen after the World Champion overcame Tim Pusey 6-2.

The Dutchman has now gone seven PDC events without winning a title but will be hoping to end that run on Saturday night in front of an expected 3000-strong crowd. 

Premier League champion Van Gerwen, who hit four maximum scores in the match, dominated the game for the majority and is relishing the prospect of another encounter with his old rival Anderson.

“Gary and I always have great games and I can’t afford to make any mistakes against him.

“I have not played my best but I just have to keep giving myself chances and doing the right things at the right moments.

“I am happy to get the win today but now I have to focus on playing Gary.”

Defending Melbourne Darts Masters champion Peter Wright will continue his quest to retain his title after knocking out Corey Cadby in a 6-4 win.

Both players struggled to find form but it was Wright who took his chances early in the encounter.

Home-favourite Cadby battled back in to the match and missed a dart at tops to level at 5-5 and send it to a deciding leg before Wright pinned the same target to progress in to the last eight.

“Tonight was diabolical, I’m sorry and I don’t know what happened up there tonight but sometimes it just doesn’t go,” said a frustrated Wright.

“I have to play Barney tomorrow and if I play anything like that then I won’t be the champion anymore.”

The Scot will resume his title defence against Van Barneveld, who began his final competitive tournament in Australia in style as he defeated Puha 6-1 with an average of 106.13 – the highest of the night.

“I felt really relaxed up there. I took a few days off after Brisbane to get my mind in the right place and it seemed to have worked.

“I have been doing it on the practice board and I always feel confident there but it’s nice to finally do it out on the stage.”

The Dutch legend missed just two darts at doubles throughout the night and threw three 180s in his victory.

New Aussie sensation Heta picked up where he left off in Brisbane in emphatic style as he defeated James Wade 6-1 in their first round tie.

The pair met the week before where the eventual champion Heta edged out Wade in a last leg decider, however this victory was far more comprehensive.

The 2019 Brisbane Darts Master averaged almost 100 as he put his English opponent to the sword to book his place in the quarter finals.

“Things just feel so good right now, I’m just in the moment and absolutely loving it,” said Heta after his win.

The 32-year-old ace will take on Rob Cross in the quarter-finals after the former World Champion beat Robbie King 6-2.

Home hero Simon Whitlock opened the evening’s play with a comprehensive 6-3 win over Mick Lacey.

A 97 average and three maximums were more than enough for the former World Championship finalist to book himself a spot in the last eight.

The Australian will face Daryl Gurney in the quarter-finals after he beat Kyle Anderson 6-3.

Gurney flew out of the blocks taking a 3-0 lead, averaging almost 120 before a fightback saw Anderson miss a dart to level at 4-4.

The former Grand Prix champion eventually made it over the line and was happy with the victory.

“I was pleased with the way I started so I was happy with that but it was my own fault that I let Kyle back in.

“I’m been working really hard at home and whilst I’ve been away so beating quality players shows the hard work is paying off.”

The 2019 Melbourne Darts Masters will conclude on Saturday as the remaining eight players battle it out for the title. 

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