Wade and van Gerwen rock in Blackpool

James Wade began his challenge to win a second Betfair World Matchplay title with a clinical win over Richie Burnett last night, as Steve Beaton, Mark Walsh and Michael van Gerwen all came from behind to take first round wins in Blackpool.

2007 champion Wade looked in confident mood as he defeated Welshman Burnett 10-6 at the Winter Gardens, finishing ten of 18 attempts at a double during the contest.

Wade led 3-0 and 8-1 before Burnett rallied to threaten a fightback, but the world number three proved too deadly on double top as he progressed to a second round clash with Mark Walsh on Wednesday.

“Richie’s been playing well recently so I was nervous going into the game, and I know I can improve but it’s great to get through,” said Wade.

“Richie threw a little bit back at me but I got there in the end – I actually got more nervous as the game went on, and I haven’t quite got the confidence I had a few years ago, but I’m practising hard and hopefully it will come back within time.”

Walsh had to show his battling qualities as he fought back from 6-3 and 7-4 down against Colin Osborne before taking a 10-8 win to progress to the second round for the seventh time.

“I missed doubles early on and Colin took advantage, and I was always chasing the game until it was eight-all,” said Walsh. “I normally get to the second round, which I have done six times before, but this year hopefully I can break that hoodoo.”

A night of fightbacks also saw Beaton and van Gerwen hit back to set up a second round clash following their wins over Kevin Painter and Simon Whitlock respectively.

Beaton trailed 2-0 and 3-1 against Painter, but won five successive legs to turn the game in his favour, and even though the number 11 seed fired in a 160 checkout it was not enough to save his hopes.

“I’m really pleased with that performance but I made it hard for myself early on,” said Beaton. “It’s hard not to get frustrated with yourself, and I’ve gone into the first break 3-2 down, but you have to forget that and hit him hard.

“I’d have been happy with five-all at the next break, so to go in 6-4 up was a bonus and I took my chances.”

Van Gerwen, meanwhile, knocked out number six seed Simon Whitlock with a thrilling performance, winning five successive legs to come from 6-5 down to take a 10-6 triumph – hitting finishes of 110, 104 and 99 in that run.

“It was a very difficult game for me but I played very well and I’m happy with that,” said van Gerwen. “I’ve been practising hard for the last few weeks and been playing well for a few months, so I’m happy it came out on stage.

“It was a big moment for me. It’s three years since I played here and it’s a great venue and a great crowd, and I played a good game so I’m very happy with that.”

The first round continues tonight (7pm) with a further four matches, headed by reigning champion Phil Taylor’s clash with Mervyn King as the 12-time champion begins his challenge for a record-equalling fifth successive title.

2005 champion Colin Lloyd plays number nine seed Mark Webster, last year’s semi-finalist Andy Hamilton takes on World Grand Prix finalist Brendan Dolan and Vincent van der Voort faces debutant Ian White.

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