Smith ends De Sousa’s winning run on Players Championship Finals Day Two

Michael Smith ended Jose de Sousa’s winning run at the Ricoh Arena stage on day two of the Ladbrokes Players Championship Finals in Coventry.

De Sousa, who was crowned Grand Slam champion on the stage on Tuesday, saw his six-match winning run curtailed by Michael Smith, who won 10-7 to move a step closer to claiming a first televised ranking title.

A tight last 16 contest saw both players finish the match with averages over 100, with seven 180s hit each.

With the scores tied at 7-7, Smith secured the crucial break of throw, taking out 61 on double nine to move in front having trailed 6-3.

The former World Championship runner-up then won the remaining two legs to gain revenge for his loss to De Sousa at the Grand Slam and move in to the quarter-finals.

“Mentally I feel better than I ever have,” said Smith, pictured.

“My scoring isn’t what it normally is but I know I can get that back, what really pleases me is how strong I feel in my own head at the moment.”

Day Two of the £500,000 tournament saw the second round take place in the afternoon, before the last 16 in the evening, with both sessions played across two stages.

Prior to defeating De Sousa, Smith defeated his former mentor Gary Anderson in round two, recovering from 4-1 down to defeat his older rival, who was still suffering from a knee injury.

Smith will now face Peter Wright in the quarter-finals after the World Champion came through a last-leg decider to beat Callan Rydz, who was appearing in the last 16 of a televised event for the first time.

Wright was left dissatisfied with his performance, having averaged 102 in his 6-1 defeat of Simon Whitlock earlier in the day, but promised more for the quarter-final with Smith.

“I felt rubbish up there, I tried changing my darts and nothing was working, I’m a bit lucky to have won that,” Wright admitted.

“I can’t be as bad as that again tomorrow so everybody better watch out.”

Defending champion Michael van Gerwen will also be back in action on Finals Day after the Dutchman claimed a 6-4 win over Jonny Clayton and then a 10-7 victory over Jeffrey de Zwaan.

The world number one again averaged over 100 and hit 50% of his double attempts in the third round tie with fellow Dutchman De Zwaan.

Van Gerwen raced in to an 8-3 lead against De Zwaan but gave his opponent hope as he lost four of the next five legs to lead by just two.

The three-time World Champion did eventually get over the winning line but was disappointed with his slip in concentration.

“At 8-3 I made a big mistake and started to play really bad, which is annoying,” said Van Gerwen.

“This is a big tournament and I have to give 100% and not make any mistakes if I am going to win.”

The win for Van Gerwen sets up another all Dutch affair in the last eight where Dirk van Duijvenbode awaits.

The World Grand Prix runner-up dropped just two legs across an impressive day’s work in defeating Niels Zonnerveld 6-1 and Luke Woodhouse 10-1, the latter of which saw him average just under 100.

The afternoon session saw Damon Heta and Ross Smith make it through to the last 16 by beating Ryan Murray and Nathan Aspinall respectively before the two took to the stage for a place in the last eight.

Heta broke throw in the tenth leg, checking out 84 on the bullseye to move 6-4 ahead before going on to lead 9-5.

Smith attempted to produce a comeback, but ultimately it wasn’t enough as Heta ran out a 10-7 victor.

The Australian will now face a resurgent Mervyn King, who has gone about his business in classy fashion so far this weekend, as he first beat Danny Noppert 6-1 before registering a 10-5 victory over Karel Sedlacek.

“The Winter Series took it out of me a bit and I needed that last day off just to recharge my batteries. That did me the world of good and a couple of changes to my darts and all of a sudden I’m feeling a lot better,” said King.

Gerwyn Price completed another successful day after he overcame Jamie Hughes 6-2 with an average just shy of 100, before grinding out a 10-6 win over Luke Humphries to reach the quarter-finals.

Humphries had been involved in arguably the game of the day in the afternoon session as he beat Jermaine Wattimena 6-4, with both players averaging over 107.

The clash with World Cup winner Price was a tamer affair however, with both men struggling to find their top form.

“I am here to win and will always do my best, I will never throw in the towel but for whatever reason I was struggling tonight,” Price revealed.

“It has been a very long few months and it is starting to catch up with me, but if I can take another trophy in to the two-week break before the Worlds I will be very happy.”

Price will take on Joe Cullen in the last eight after he overcame Rob Cross and then Ian White.

Cullen needed a last-leg decider in his second round game with Cross but after surviving two match darts he kept his composure to finish 83 in two darts.

The last 16 victory over White was a far more impressive performance, with Cullen averaging the best part of 100 in his 10-8 win.

Sunday’s final day of action will be centred on the main stage, with the quarter-finals in the afternoon session followed by the semi-finals and final in the evening session.

The PDC Unicorn World Youth Championship final, between Bradley Brooks and Joe Davis, will be played between the second semi-final and final and will be shown as part of the main broadcast.

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