Taylor cruises to victory in World Darts Championship opener as Stein stuns Stuart

 

Phil Taylor started his William Hill World Darts Championship bid with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Germany’s Jyhan Artut in the first round last night, as Sascha Stein became the second debutant to reach the last 32 as he dumped out Stuart Kellett at Alexandra Palace.

Taylor recorded the first three-figure average of the tournament so far as he finished with 100.57, landed two 180s and completed a superb 60 percent checkout ratio when hitting nine of his 15 shots at double.

Artut posed few problems for Taylor throughout the match, especially early on when the second seed rattled off the first six legs without reply – the first three all coming with a perfect three-out-of-three on his doubles.

A 64 outshot to start the second set made if four from four, and even when Taylor missed his first double in leg five he had time to recover. Two more doubles were missed in the next, but with Artut not on a finish Taylor comfortably made the scoreline 2-0.

Artut finally got a leg on the board at the start of the third set after hitting his first 180, but Taylor instantly put his foot down and hit a 180 before taking out 84 to complete an 11-darter, and moved 2-1 in front only for Artut to grab a second leg with a fine 95, outshot finishing on double 16.

Artut could not find a way to get right back into the contest, though, as Taylor hit a 180 in the next leg which gave him enough breathing space to hit double 16 and book his place in the second round.

“That was job done tonight,” said Taylor. “I’m up for this and I’m after this World Championship, trust me, I’m not sure how many of these I’ve got left so I’m fully going after this one.

“I’m not 100 percent right for this first round right now, so I’m going to go back and top up, get prepared and come back fully ready for the next round.

“I’ll be practising on Christmas Day for a couple of hours, then I’ll probably spend four hours cooking the Christmas dinner for the grandkids!”

For the second time in 24 hours, an International Qualifier booked a place in the second round as Germany’s Sascha Stein joined Spain’s Cristo Reyes in the last 32 by knocking out Stuart Kellett 3-1 to earn a prize tie with Michael van Gerwen.

The German had earlier seen off Kim Viljanen in the preliminary round with a 4-1 triumph, and – just as Reyes had done on Thursday’s opening night against Wes Newton – then doubled up by returning to the stage to cause a big upset against the 32nd seed.

Kellett was punished for six missed doubles in the opening set as Stein took the advantage, before the Cheshire ace hit back to level by taking the second.

Kellett then led for the first time in the match by taking the opening leg of the third set, but a 180 in the next left Stein with 57, which he mopped up easily before he produced a 14-darter to move 2-1 ahead and on the verge of picking up a famous win.

Stein made the perfect start to the fourth set by hitting double eight and double 16 to lead 2-0, but nerves started to tell as he missed two darts for the match, allowing Kellett a lifeline after hitting double 16.

Another missed match dart slipped by for Stein and Kellett chose that moment to hit the first three-figure finish of the match, with a 108 combination keeping him in the tie.

It was only a temporary reprieve though as Stein held his nerve to see off an unconvential 79 finish on the bull to book his dream showdown with reigning champion van Gerwen in round two.

Former finalist Andy Hamilton survived a big scare to battle back from a set down to beat Dave Richardson 3-2, despite the Scottish-born Canadian hitting seven of the 12 180s in the match and taking two sets on the bounce to put his opponent under serious pressure.

The 2012 runner-up and 12th seed this year made a regulation start to his match against the Alexandra Palace debutant, with the Stoke thrower taking the first three legs.

Richardson hit his second 180 of the match at the start of the second set, before taking out 67 on tops to get his first leg on the board.

Hamilton responded with a 64 checkout on double 16, before both men hit some form when they landed 180s in successive legs, but it was Richardson who came out on top by taking both – the second courtesy of a 96 two-dart finish.

Richardson continued the run with double top giving him a break of throw to start the third set, which he then took 3-1 thanks to three 180s in successive legs, with Hamilton’s sole response being a brilliant 114 outshot.

Hamilton was up against it at 2-1 down, but he turned the game around in a hurry as he rattled off six straight legs as the big scoring from Richardson deserted him.

Hamilton took his time completing the win as he missed six match darts but eventually hit double six to move through to meet Steve Beaton or Kyle Anderson.

“I struggled early on and he played well at times, but I managed to come back in the end,” said Hamilton. “This longer format really suits me and I know I can always hang on in there even when I’m struggling.

“I just need a little bit of luck – I’ve not had much of it but I feel I’ve been playing well and when I play like I know I can, I know I can do well.”

Last year’s beaten finalist Peter Wright overcame Welsh debutant Gerwyn Price in straight sets, but it was not as easy as the scoreline suggested as the Scot made it through a tough first round encounter.

Former rugby union player Price showed he can be equally as adept on the oche as in a scrum as he pushed last year’s runner-up all the way, including hitting five 180s to Wright’s two.

Wright quickly took the opening two legs but Price hit back with a 180 to set up 38, which he took out at the first attempt by hitting double 19.

Wright then hit three scores of 100 before a 54 finish gave him the set with an impressive 104 average – while Price was hardly struggling with an average of 100 of his own.

After sharing the first two legs of the next set, Price hit his second 180 as a 14-darter broke the Wright throw and moved him 2-1 ahead in the set.

Wright hit back immediately and took out 96 in great style by finishing with single 20, double 18 and double top, and when Price missed tops for the set in the next he mopped up 66 for a two-set advantage.

The third set also went all the way, with Price going 2-1 in front before Wright dug out his best darts just when he needed it again, finishing off a 12-darter with a checkout of 100 to draw level before a 14-darter and 86 outshot put him through.

“I’ve had an up and down year, swapping my darts around and stuff like that, but now I’m feeling a lot more settled,” said Wright – who sported a mistletoe pattern on his head and a Christmas tree on his goatee beard.

“I’ve got some time off now to practice more and get myself on top form for the rest of the tournament.”

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