White overcomes Van Gerwen in Unibet European Championship

Ian White produced one of the performances of his career to defeat Michael van Gerwen in the Unibet European Championship second round on Friday, as Peter Wright overcame Gerwyn Price in a thriller.

World number 12 White booked his quarter-final spot in superb fashion with his first televised win over Van Gerwen, averaging almost 104 at the König Pilsener Arena in Oberhausen.

The Stoke ace, pictured, raced into a five-leg lead as he punished six missed doubles from Van Gerwen in the early stages, hitting three 13-darters and a 14-dart leg in the process.

The pair traded 11-darters as Van Gerwen pulled back to 7-4, but White reeled off the next three to secure a quarter-final tie with Devon Petersen on Saturday.

“It’s brilliant, a big moment,” said White. “It was a good game and everything went for me. Michael missed a few doubles at the beginning and I kept taking them out.

“You want to be leading at the first break but at 5-0 it was a matter of carrying on doing what I was doing. You know Michael can come back at you, he’s the best player in the world so even when I got to nine legs I had to keep hitting it.

“It’s a good win. I’ve beaten him a few times before but I know I can play like that, and the luck went for me tonight.

“I’ve got to focus on the next game against Devon now because he’s playing good darts. I’m feeling confident and playing well, and if I can keep playing like that then people will keep talking about me.”

Petersen also averaged over 100 as he reached his first individual TV quarter-final since the 2015 UK Open in a 10-8 comeback win over Martijn Kleermaker.

Kleermaker, who defeated reigning champion Rob Cross in round one, took leads of 3-0 and 4-1 as he started the brighter, only for Petersen to respond with five straight legs – including finishes of 70, 72 and 73 – as he moved into the lead at 6-4.

The Dutchman hit back with legs of 13 and 15 darts to level after 12 legs, but the 13th proved crucial as he missed one dart at tops to regain the lead, allowing Petersen to follow two 180s as he finished an 11-darter.

Double 16 gave Petersen breathing space at 8-6, and he added a 12-darter to keep Kleermaker at bay before holding his nerve to close out the win.

“I’m happy to go through,” said Petersen. “Martijn is an amazing talent and is probably the quickest player in the world at this point in time.

“In the first session I needed to catch my breath, find my rhythm in a sense and I was hanging onto his coat-tails and he was so clinical on his finishing.

“I was quite mesmerised by his pace. I recomposed myself at the start of the second session and those five legs I think put him in a wobble a little bit.

“I’m ecstatic that I’m performing at that level. As long as I play well, that’s the only thing that matters.”

Wright, meanwhile, showed his World Champion class to defeat Price 10-6 in a second round thriller as the pair both averaged over 100.

Welshman Price, who has won two televised titles this autumn, hit back from 2-0 down with a pair of 12-darters only to see the World Champion pull clear by landing two 11-dart legs in moving 9-3 up.

Price responded with checkouts of 148, 127 and 80 to threaten a comeback as he kept his hopes alive, but Wright pinned tops to secure his quarter-final spot on Saturday.

“It’s nice to get the win over Gezzy,” said Wright. “He’s on form at the moment, winning everything and hitting big averages.

“I just wanted to win because Gezzy has got the better of me a couple of times. I’m not relaxing with these darts but when I do, they’re going to be awesome.

“At 9-3 up I was thinking about not throwing it away, and he’s capable of coming back and winning. He took out the 148 and the 127 and I was doing nothing wrong, so fair play to him.

“I’m still in and still battling so we’ll see how it goes. This would be a nice one to win but I’ll just take each game as it comes.”

Steve West booked his spot in the quarter-finals for a second time in three years by coming through a dramatic 19-leg tie with Mensur Suljovic.

West came from a leg down to lead 5-1, hitting four 14-darters and a 144 finish in a superb spell of darts only to see Suljovic hit back to win five of the next seven, including an 11-dart leg, as he pulled back to 7-6.

Tops saw West regain breathing space, but Suljovic took advantage of three missed doubles with an 88 finish in leg 15 before levelling on double nine in the next.

West took out 90 for a 12-darter to regain the lead, with Suljovic finishing 84 with a bullseye, double 17 combination to send the tie into a decider, but the Austrian was left waiting on 40 as West checked out a fine 106 combination for victory.

“I’m over the moon – it means the world to me,” said West, who now plays Wright. 

“It’s probably the best I’ve played since two years ago when I played Michael van Gerwen in this event. At 7-3 up I was cruising but I let him get close and he pushed me all the way – I was in massive trouble.

“Peter Wright doesn’t like playing me, and we’ve had a good few battles. If I can play my game, I’m good enough to beat him.

“I came here believing that I can win this event and if I win this, I’d retire!”

James Wade is the only former champion left in the field after the 2018 winner saw off Nathan Aspinall 10-8 in a high-quality encounter to set up a tie with William O’Connor.

With the pair both averaging almost 97, it was Wade’s more clinical finishing which proved superior as he punished Aspinall for 19 missed doubles, including three chances to level in the second half of the tie.

Wade fired in a 161 finish as he moved 2-0 up, and after Aspinall levelled he posted another 12-darter in moving two legs clear again.

Aspinall posted legs of 14 and 13 darts as he remained in touch, but he ultimately paid for missing his chances to level as Wade held his advantage to secure a quarter-final spot.

“I think it was a steady performance,” said Wade. “I was probably a little bit more nervous than I should have been but I’m happy to win and happy to go further forwards.

“I’ve got to make the most of the opportunity – at the moment I think it’s very open. I’m looking forward to my next game.”

O’Connor won through to only his second individual televised quarter-final by defeating Jamie Hughes 10-3 in a dominant performance.

O’Connor had come into the event as 32nd seed with Glen Durrant ruled out, but is grasping his opportunity in Oberhausen after seeing off top seed Joe Cullen and now Hughes.

The Irish star won the opening five legs without reply as he took charge of the game, and though Hughes took out 122 as he pulled back three legs, checkouts of 138 and 100 secured O’Connor’s quarter-final place.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” said O’Connor, a World Cup finalist for Ireland last year. “I’ve got a huge opportunity now to push on a little bit further.

“It was easier than I was expecting today but I felt Jamie was a little bit nervous and I wanted to win my leg and break him early on to get 2-0 up and use that throughout the game, but Jamie never got into the game.”

O’Connor is also closing on a spot in the top 32, but is focusing on continuing his run in Oberhausen.

“I’m trying to play myself back into form and the more I play the closer I feel I’m getting to where I want to be,” he added. “Every time I go out there I try to play the best I can and have no regrets.

“I need more match practice under my belt but I’ll be giving it 100 percent and hopefully I’ll feel comfortable, relaxed and refreshed. I’ll have to play well to win.”

Dirk van Duijvenbode continued his brilliant October form with a 10-8 comeback win over Michael Smith, who had hit back from 3-0 down to take command of the tie.

The World Grand Prix finalist made a brilliant start, finishing 95 and 94 to complete back-to-back 12-darters as he moved 3-0 up, only to see Smith open his challenge with an 11-darter to spark a run of six straight legs.

Smith maintained the edge as a 12-darter moved him 8-6 up, but Van Duijvenbode replied in kind in leg 15 and capitalised on missed doubles from the world number four in the next two to move 9-8 up, before finishing 110 to seal the win.

“I’m very happy that I won,” said Van Duijvenbode. “I know we’re both fast players but I said to myself I had to not go at his rhythm, and I stopped playing well and lost my confidence.

“He missed some chances and I regained my composure. I was upset with myself for missing three darts to go 4-1 up because I could have relaxed then. He played well then but happily I composed myself to play normal again.

“I’m still not playing my best darts but it’s about regaining your confidence and if making a major final doesn’t give you confidence then nothing does.”

Van Duijvenbode will take on Jonny Clayton in the last eight, after the Welshman ensured a best-ever run in the event with a 10-6 win over Jose De Sousa, who was unable to repeat the heroics of Thursday’s nine-dart finish.

De Sousa landed an early 11-darter as he moved 2-1 up, only for Clayton to move ahead in leg five with a break as finishes of 68 and 76 moved him into a lead he would never relinquish.

The Portuguese ace finished 121, 80 and 137 as he pulled back to 6-5, but legs of 13 and 14 darts gave Clayton breathing space before he sealed his first quarter-final in the event.

“I’m really happy to be through,” said Clayton. “I find difficult with the quiet arenas but I seem to be playing okay so I’m happy.

“I’m into the quarter-finals now so we’ll see what happens. It’s going to be a tough encounter but I’m always confident – hopefully I can relax and show my best game.”

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