2018 champion Rob Cross became the highest-profile exit at this year’s PDC World Darts Championship after a second-round defeat in a last-leg thriller against Dirk van Duijvenbode.
From the minute the draw was made, this looked like a contest to watch and the pair delivered with 11 maximum 180s and a pair of huge averages – but it was the Dutchman who prevailed as Cross joined Adrian Lewis as former world champions heading home before Christmas.
Van Duijvenbode, the 28-year-old aubergine farmer beaten by Gerwyn Price in the World Grand Prix final just a couple of months ago, had battled back from 2-0 down to beat Bradley Brooks in the first round and he rallied from losing the opening set to see off Cross.
A spectacular final leg that featured seven treble 17s and a 99 finish sealed the deal for the Dutchman and meant for the second year in a row, Cross bowed out in the second round.
7 treble 19’s in one leg! Amazing!
— Wayne Mardle (@Wayne501Mardle) December 22, 2020
Voltage memorably made headlines on his World Championship debut three years ago by beating Phil Taylor in the final, and he has gone on to add the World Matchplay and the European Championship titles to his CV.
But there will not be a second world crown as he followed Premier League elimination and first-round exits at the World Matchplay and the World Grand Prix with a second successive second-round defeat at Alexandra Palace.
Instead it’s Van Duijvenbode who continues his remarkable rise through the darting ranks, winning a last leg decider after a game that went the distance. The pair traded maximums and clinical combination finishes in a high class first set, but it was Cross who had the better of it, averaging 104 and hitting 50 per cent of his double he took an early lead.
The Dutchman, five years on from his Ally Pally debut where he was beaten by Raymond van Barneveld, has been a revelation since winning his Tour Card for a third time in January and he bounced back to claim the second 3-1 as Cross’ inconsistencies of the season returned to haunt him with an average in the 70s.
World no 5 Cross edged the second set before a trademark burst from Van Duijvenbode. 11 and 13 dart legs took him to the brink of the fourth set which he clinched before the drama of the final set.
Fittingly for a classy contest, it went the distance and Van Duijvenbode, with Cross waiting on a double, underlined his status as a contender for the title by taking out 99 to win the match and set up a third-round match with Adam Hunt.
Paul Lim had made headlines on Friday night with his remarkable win over Luke Humphries, but World Matchplay champion Dimitri Van den Bergh got revenge for the current generation with a statement 3-0 victory over the legendary 66-year-old.
The Belgian needed just 39 darts to sweep into the lead. A blistering start saw the World Matchplay champion average 115 while missing four darts at a double as Lim did not even get a sight of a finish.
Lim, who recorded the first televised nine-darter four years before Van den Bergh was even born, grabbed the opening leg of the second set but The Dreammaker was not to be held up as finishes of 100 and 121 helped him into a 2-0 lead.
The Singapore Slinger had fought back from 2-0 down against Humphries and while he added one more leg that was as good as it got for the veteran as Van den Bergh underlined his title credentials for the biggest tournament of them all.
A 105 average, six maximums, two 100+ finishes and a 53 per cent success rate on the doubles saw him through to a date with Jermaine Wattimena or Nick Kenny.
Devon Petersen missed eight match darts but still managed to find a way past Steve Lennon, whose doubling was even worse.
Lennon recorded a remarkable 39 missed darts at double to hand Petersen a potentially mouthwatering third-round match with Michael Smith.
A high class 106 from Petersen was the high-point of a first set that went the distance, the African Warrior somehow claiming the fifth leg decider but only after Lennon had missed eight darts for the set himself.
Lennon’s doubling had let him down in the opening set and his misery continued, hitting double 15 when he needed double 10 for the first set of the second and Petersen pounced. The pair traded the next three legs to send the match into another decider and having improved his finishing Lennon was first to the outer ring but another two darts for a set went begging.
Petersen mopped up on 52 to stand within one set of the last 32 for only the third time in his career. Lennon switched his attention from the doubles to hit bullseye and claim the first leg of the third set – after Petersen had bust 140.
Lennon went on to claim the set, but only after Petersen had missed a remarkable seven match darts to allow the former World Cup runner-up to hit double one after 33 missed darts at double across the first three sets.
Petersen pinned his next dart for a finish at bullseye for a classy 121 and added a third three-figure finish on his way to the three-leg burst he needed to seal his third round spot and a date with Smith, if the world no 4 can see off Jason Lowe on Wednesday,
Sloppy Noppie struggles into last 32
Danny Noppert battled his way past South Africa’s Cameron Carolissen with a 3-1 victory but he will need to improve significantly when he faces Dave Chisnall or Keegan Brown after Christmas.
Just a few days on from being handed a bye into the second round on his tournament debut after Martijn Kleermaker’s positive test for Covid-19, Carolissen settled into a rhythm early.
The 24-year-old from Strandfontein, who won the African qualifier in Cape Town, averaged 79 in the opening set but remarkably it was enough to win all three legs for a 1-0 lead against his more experienced opponent, who was averaging 10 points lower.
After losing the first five legs of the match, Noppert launched his comeback by winning the next four to level matters but with neither man able to find their range, a scrappy third set went the distance before the Dutchman shaded the decider, although he needed 23 darts to do it.
Rather than galvanise the 2017 BDO runner-up, Noppie continued to struggle and Carolissen rose to the challenge forcing the fourth to go the distance where the Dutchman scrambled over the line, surviving a couple of missed darts for the set from Carolissen to pin double 10 and breathe a huge sigh of relief.
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