PETER WRIGHT produced arguably the performance of his career to end Phil Taylor's bid to win a seventh SINGHA Beer Grand Slam of Darts
PETER WRIGHT produced arguably the performance of his career to end Phil Taylor's bid to win a seventh SINGHA Beer Grand Slam of Darts title with a brilliant 16-10 win on Friday night as Michael van Gerwen cruised into the semi-finals at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall.
Number five seed Wright had never previously won past the last 16 in the Grand Slam before this event, but continued his series of assured displays by landing four ton-plus checkouts and ten 180s to see off the sport's greatest ever player.
Wright raced into a 5-0 lead in a clinical opening to the contest before six-time Wolverhampton Civic champion Taylor found his range to claim four of the next five as he cut the gap to 6-4.
Wright then missed double 12 for a nine-dart finish as he edged 7-4 up, and after Taylor cut the gap to one leg the Scot took out brilliant checkouts of 152 and 101 in successive legs to pull away once more.
Taylor followed a 14-darter with a thrilling 143 finish to again hit back to within a leg at 9-8, but Wright once more edged away with two killer checkouts, as he took out 141 and 121 in taking a 13-8 lead.
Finishes of 62 and 64 kept Taylor in touch at 14-10, but Wright landed a tenth 180 of the contest in closing out a memorable win with double eight for a 14-dart leg.
"I felt really calm and I enjoyed the game - I was so relaxed and I thought I played a nice game of darts," said Wright, who will also move above Taylor and Adrian Lewis to third in the PDC Order of Merit following this event.
"It was like I was playing Phil back at my house, just with a little bit of noise in the background! It was a great game and it was nice to be involved in it.
"I felt in control and then Phil took over, but in the past I've relaxed and let Phil play his game. Phil has come back and beaten me before and I was waiting for it again, but I've learned a lot and I focused more.
"Finishing is the most important part of the game and the hard work in practice paid off tonight. I'm really happy."
Earlier, reigning champion van Gerwen romped into the last four with a 16-3 demolition of Brendan Dolan, who had won through to his first Wolves Civic quarter-final but was unable to match the world number one's scoring power.
Van Gerwen took the opening five legs without reply to take command, finishing 104 and 121 in the process, before Dolan stepped in to claim leg six.
The Dutch star, though, finished 90 for another break of throw as he pulled away with eight successive legs to move 13-1 up, with Dolan landing tops to hit back with two legs.
However, the Northern Irish ace missed his chance to continue the fightback as van Gerwen stepped in to win the next three legs and secure his semi-final place.
"Of course, 16-3 is a good win but to be fair Brendan didn't really put me under pressure in this game," conceded van Gerwen. "I'm glad I got through but I didn't play fantastic darts, I was a bit sloppy on my doubles but I won the game.
"I'd rather have a bit more action, but it's nice to win like that. Brendan said sorry that he didn't give me a game, maybe I was too relaxed but if it was closer he wouldn't be in that position.
"I feel good, I feel confident and I can prepare for the semi-finals now."
Wright has not defeated van Gerwen since the 2015 Japan Darts Masters, with the Dutchman's 15 successive wins including triumphs in the finals of this year's UK Open, World Series of Darts Finals and in three European Tour events.
However, Wright added: "It will make a change not playing him in the final and I'm looking forward to it. I believe I've got the next step and we'll have to wait and see."
The quarter-finals conclude on Saturday (8pm) with the remaining two matches, with 2010 Grand Slam runner-up James Wade taking on emerging star Chris Dobey before World Champion Gary Anderson comes up against 2012 Wolverhampton winner Raymond van Barneveld.
Van Gerwen is now the 4/9 favourite to take the title on Sunday with Sun Bets, the official betting partner of the SINGHA Beer Grand Slam of Darts.
Anderson is the 4/1 second favourite, with Wright 6/1, Wade 12/1, van Barneveld a 16/1 chance and Dobey the 100/1 outsider.
SINGHA Beer Grand Slam of Darts
Friday November 18
Michael van Gerwen 16-3 Brendan Dolan
Peter Wright 16-10 Phil Taylor
Saturday November 19 (8pm)
Chris Dobey v James Wade
Gary Anderson v Raymond van Barneveld
Best of 31 legs
MICHAEL VAN GERWEN stepped up his bid to retain the SINGHA Beer Grand Slam of Darts title as he powered into the quarter-finals by defeating Robert Thornton on Wednesday, as Peter Wright, Phil Taylor and Brendan Dolan also enjoyed second round wins.
Reigning champion van Gerwen was in dominant mood as he defeated 2013 Grand Slam finalist Thornton 10-5 as the last 16 kicked off at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall.
The world number one's opening 11-darter was followed by a 129 finish from Thornton as the Scot shared the first four legs, but van Gerwen pulled clear with four in a row to move 6-2 up.
Thornton hit back with a brilliant 145 checkout, but van Gerwen bettered that with the maximum 170 finish on his way into a 9-4 lead before landing another 11-darter to secure the victory.
"I felt comfortable and I played okay in patches, but Robert is a fighter and you know you have to take an extra step against him," said van Gerwen.
"I'm in great form and the next game is Brendan Dolan - he's a good player who I played in the group and I hope I can beat him again. That's the next target in this tournament."
Northern Irish ace Dolan won through to Friday's quarter-finals by producing a memorable comeback to edge out Gerwyn Price in a deciding leg as he moved into the quarter-finals for the first time in Wolverhampton.
Price raced into a 4-0 lead and also led 5-1 before Dolan hit back to level, and the former World Grand Prix finalist then followed up a 160 checkout with a brilliant 157 finish as he moved ahead for the first time at 8-7.
Price levelled and shared the next two to force a decider, but Dolan opened the final leg with his seventh 180 before finishing 101 to complete the fightback.
"I'm so relieved," said Dolan. "I had to dig really deep there to try and get the result and I'm delighted to get through.
"At the start it wasn't looking good for me and I was snatching my darts, so to get back to five-all was a bonus. I knew I still had a job to do because Gerwyn's a fighter, but I stuck with him and kept the pressure on with some big finishes."
Six-time Grand Slam winner Taylor continued his bid to complete another Wolverhampton triumph with a 10-5 win over Canada's Jeff Smith, the BDO Lakeside Championship finalist who had won through to the last 16 in his debut in the event.
However, despite sharing the opening four legs, Smith was punished for missed doubles as Taylor took five legs in a row - including a neat 100 finish with two double tops - to move 7-2 up.
Smith took out a memorable 152 checkout as he hit back, but the Canadian was unable to prevent Taylor from securing his place in the quarter-finals on Friday.
"I'm pleased to be through but not pleased with my performance," said Taylor, who averaged 98 and finished 42 percent of his chances at a double. "That performance isn't good enough and I've got to improve for the quarter-finals.
"I felt good tonight but I'll get back on the practice board on Thursday now and make sure I'm right for the quarter-finals."
Taylor now meets number five seed Peter Wright, who claimed eight successive legs as he overcame Darryl Fitton 10-3 to reach the quarter-finals in Wolverhampton for the first time.
A pair of 14-dart finishes gave Wright an early edge before BDO World Trophy champion Fitton finished 76 and 48 to move himself 3-2 up.
Wright, though, ignited his challenge by following a 13-darter with a 106 finish as he pulled clear, before completing victory with a 99 checkout - and although he progressed to the last eight was unimpressed with his performance.
"I still know there's more in the tank," said Wright. "I thought I was terrible but I set myself high standards and I didn't meet them tonight.
"I'm not just happy with going through, I want to do to people what Phil Taylor did years ago, and that's why I'm coming off annoyed. I have some great battles with Phil and it should be another one on Friday."
The second round concludes on Thursday night with the remaining four matches, including 2012 champion Raymond van Barneveld taking on BDO number one Glen Durrant.
2010 Grand Slam of Darts runner-up James Wade meets Benito van de Pas, PDC World Champion Gary Anderson plays Dutchman Danny Noppert and local ace Jamie Hughes meets youngster Chris Dobey.
Tickets for the SINGHA Beer Grand Slam of Darts can be purchased by calling 0870 320 7000 or online at www.theticketfactory.com/PDC.
SINGHA Beer Grand Slam of Darts
Wednesday November 16
Gerwyn Price 9-10 Brendan Dolan
Phil Taylor 10-5 Jeff Smith
Michael van Gerwen 10-5 Robert Thornton
Peter Wright 10-3 Darryl Fitton
Thursday November 17 (7pm)
4x Second Round
Jamie Hughes v Chris Dobey
Benito van de Pas v James Wade
Gary Anderson v Danny Noppert
Raymond van Barneveld v Glen Durrant
All games are the best of 19 legs
GLEN DURRANT whitewashed Nathan Derry to secure progression to the knockout phase of the SINGHA Beer Grand Slam of Darts on Monday, as Brendan Dolan, Chris Dobey and Darryl Fitton also qualified for the second round at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall.
BDO number one Durrant continued his impressive Grand Slam debut as he joined PDC World Champion Gary Anderson in progressing from Group E in the £400,000 tournament.
Durrant had lost narrowly to Anderson in their opener on Saturday, but followed up his win over Alan Norris with a clinical clean sweep against newcomer Derry, who was restricted to only two darts at a double in the match.
"I'm absolutely delighted to be in the last 16," said Durrant, who took out a superb 150 finish during the contest. "I felt really good there and I'm loving this event so far.
"Nathan's a nice guy but you can't take any prisoners on stage and I'm really happy with this win."
Number two seed Anderson had earlier completed his group stage with a third successive win as he overcame Norris 5-2 to secure the £2,500 Group Winner's Bonus as well as continue his challenge for a first Grand Slam triumph.
Northern Irish ace Dolan eliminated three-time BDO Lakeside Champion Martin Adams with his victory in their decisive Group A clash, in a result which also knocked out Germany's Max Hopp.
Dolan now qualifies alongside Michael van Gerwen - who won his third successive group match as he saw off Hopp 5-1 - to move through to Wednesday's second round.
"It means so much for me to get through the group," said Dolan. "There was a lot of pressure and tension there for both of us.
"I've never been one to suffer from nerves and I don't usually get like that, but as soon as I got on stage the importance of the game and the fact that I was playing a great player like Martin hit me.
"I didn't handle it as well as I could but I got the result. I've had a poor year but this is the third time I've made the last 16 on TV and I can build on this."
Six-time Grand Slam of Darts winner Phil Taylor had already qualified for the knockout stage after two Group D wins over the weekend, but ended the round-robin phase with an uncharacteristic whitewash to Darren Webster.
The Stoke legend was punished for missing seven darts at doubles as Webster claimed a consolation victory, with Darryl Fitton joining him in qualifying after a dramatic win over Ian White.
"Phil was out of sorts but that's a huge result for me because it will give me confidence going forward," said Webster. "It's not been a great tournament for me but I can take a lot from that win to set me up for the rest of the year."
White looked set to progress alongside Stoke rival Taylor when he led 3-1 and 4-3, but twice missed the bull for victory and then saw a dart at double four agonisingly land in double 13 in the deciding leg, as Fitton stepped in to land double eight to snatch victory.
"It was a difficult game for us both but I never give up," said Fitton. "Ian gave me a chance and I took it. I was hoping that he'd miss and he did, and I squeezed that double eight in.
"There was no pressure on me and I'm so happy to have won."
Dutchman Benito van de Pas also closed out the group stage with a third successive win as he overcame Adrian Lewis 5-2, with the two-time World Champion knocked out without claiming a point over the three days.
"I was already through but I wanted to win this game, like I want to win every game," said van de Pas "I'm feeling good, I'm playing well and every week I'm getting better on the stage.
"It was an important game and I've topped the group, and wins like this make me stronger."
Van de Pas was joined in qualifying from Group H by youngster Chris Dobey, whose emergence continued with a composed 5-3 win over former Lakeside Champion Scott Mitchell as he progressed.
"It was a tight group but I knew I'm good enough to get out of the group and I've shown that I deserved to go through," said Bedlington's Dobey.
"It was a struggle near the end of the game but Scott let me in with a few missed doubles, and it was nice to get over the winning line."
The round-robin phase concludes on Tuesday with the remaining eight matches as the other four groups play their third games.
While Peter Wright and James Wade have already secured their progression, two other groups see all four players still in with a chance of qualifying for the knockout stage.
Van Gerwen is now the 4/6 tournament favourite with Sun Bets, the official betting partner of the SINGHA Beer Grand Slam of Darts, with Anderson the 5/1 second favourite and Taylor a 6/1 chance to win his seventh Wolverhampton title. For the latest odds, visit www.sunbets.co.uk.
SINGHA Beer Grand Slam of Darts
Monday November 14
Groups A-D-E-H Final Games
Adrian Lewis 2-5 Benito van de Pas (H)
Gary Anderson 5-2 Alan Norris (E)
Phil Taylor 0-5 Darren Webster (D)
Michael van Gerwen 5-1 Max Hopp (A)
Brendan Dolan 5-3 Martin Adams (A)
Chris Dobey 5-3 Scott Mitchell (H)
Nathan Derry 0-5 Glen Durrant (E)
Ian White 4-5 Daryl Fitton (D)
Tuesday November 15 (7pm)
Groups B-C-F-G Final Games
James Wade v Dave Chisnall (G)
Peter Wright v Ted Evetts (C)
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Scott Waites (B)
Nathan Aspinall v Danny Noppert (F)
Robert Thornton v Gerwyn Price (B)
James Wilson v Jamie Hughes (G)
Mensur Suljovic v Raymond van Barneveld (F)
Simon Whitlock v Jeff Smith (C)
Best of nine legs
FORMER champions Michael van Gerwen, Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld enjoyed victories on the opening day of the 2016 SINGHA Beer Grand Slam of Darts on Saturday, as Scott Mitchell stunned Adrian Lewis in Wolverhampton.
Reigning Grand Slam champion van Gerwen began his title defence with a 5-2 defeat of three-time Lakeside Champion Martin Adams in their Group A opener.
The Dutch superstar took the game's first three legs to assume control, with Adams taking two to cut the gap to 4-2 before the PDC world number one sealed victory with a 12-darter.
"I didn't play my best darts but I didn't have to, and the most important thing was getting the two points with the win," said van Gerwen. "It's not always easy to get off with a win but now I can relax in the next two games."
Van Gerwen now meets Brendan Dolan in Sunday's second Group A matches, after the Northern Irish ace edged out former World Youth Champion Max Hopp 5-4, with the German ace missing two match darts in a dramatic decider.
"After I went a leg up, Max played really well and I found it very hard to break him," said Dolan. "Luckily he missed a few shots because if he didn't I wouldn't have won the game - it was a very tight game and there was nothing between us.
"People are expecting Michael to win our group, and you have to be realistic that if Michael plays the way he's been playing in the last few tournaments then he probably will - which leaves it open for the rest of us.
"That probably put extra pressure on the match against Max and I'm doing my best to make sure I go through.
"I'll have less pressure and expectation against Michael. Everyone knows how great Michael is at the minute - but he does have blips and I need to be at the top my game to take advantage of them."
Six-time Grand Slam of Darts winner Taylor enjoyed a comfortable start to his Group D challenge with a 5-1 win over BDO World Trophy champion Darryl Fitton, who was unable to match the Stoke legend's 104 average.
"It's difficult and it was a scrap early on but I'm pleased I won," said Taylor. "I wish I'd have got a 5-0, even though I love Darryl, because you can't sit on your laurels and I've got to get ready for tomorrow.
"I'm just focusing on getting through to the second round on Wednesday, and I'll see what happens from there. It's a longer format then but this is nip and tuck and it's scary, so I just want to get through!"
Taylor now faces a Sunday evening clash with Stoke rival Ian White, who took out key finishes of 118 and 98 in his 5-3 win over Darren Webster, finishing five doubles from six attempts.
"I felt comfortable and that's a good win," said White. "My finishing was really good, better than my scoring, and I had some nice finishes there, the 118 and 98."
2012 Grand Slam of Darts champion van Barneveld hit his highest-ever average in this event as he made a superb start to the group stage with a 5-1 win over former World Youth Championship finalist Nathan Aspinall, averaging 110.15.
Van Barneveld opened the match with a 180 in an 11-darter, and led 3-0 before Aspinall responded - but a 140 checkout from the five-time World Champion proved a killer blow as he secured the points.
"It's brilliant," said van Barneveld. "I feel comfortable and I played really well from the start, and to win 5-0 with a 110 average is phenomenal, I'm really happy.
"It's a tough group I know, but if I focus well and play like this, with this standard I can beat everyone."
Van Barneveld will face Noppert in their second Group F game on Sunday afternoon, after the 25-year-old averaged over 100 in his superb 5-3 win over number seven seed Mensur Suljovic, finishing five doubles from seven attempts.
"I'm really happy with this result," said Noppert. "I want to keep this going for the next match now, because I know I can show more, but I enjoyed this."
Van Barneveld's average was almost matched by 2015 Lakeside Champion Scott Mitchell, who rounded off proceedings on Saturday with a memorable 5-1 win over two-time World Champion Adrian Lewis, averaging 107.78.
The number three seed opened the game with a 177 as he took the opening leg, but Mitchell's brilliant 161 checkout levelled, and he also finished 86 on the bull in a run of five straight legs to claim the win.
"I'm delighted," said Mitchell. "Last year I came here as World Champion and the whole year passed me by, and I had a really tough draw, but everybody expects me to get out of the group.
"I was due a bit of luck and I'll enjoy tonight for what it is but tomorrow's another day.
Mitchell now meets Benito van de Pas on Sunday, after the Dutchman edged out Chris Dobey in a deciding leg after the Northumberland ace hit back from 4-0 down to level a see-saw contest.
"I'm happy with the win and I played well at the beginning, but when I was 4-0 up Chris played really well and I didn't have an answer," said van de Pas. "I should have finished the game earlier but I won."
PDC World Champion Gary Anderson - in only his second competitive game wearing glasses - edged out BDO number one Glen Durrant 5-4 in a tight contest, with the Middlesbrough ace unable to
"I was 4-3 up and had chances to nail it and made a mess of it, he stuck in but I won the deciding leg for one," said Anderson. "He's a cracking player and it was his first time here at the Grand Slam.
"It's my second week with glasses and new darts and I think they're going alright. Last week in Glasgow was my first time with the glasses on and it made such a difference, I've just got to alter my throw, which I've just about managed to do."
Anderson's second Group E match will come against Nathan Derry, the 29-year-old qualifier from Norfolk who came from 4-3 down to win a see-saw clash against Alan Norris 5-4 in his first appearance in front of the TV cameras.
"I'm over the moon to win and I enjoyed it," said Derry. "It was a tight game and I was just happy to get over the line because I normally lose last-leg deciders.
"I've got the reigning back-to-back World Champion and the BDO number one, but I'll give it my best and if I can get one more win I might get through, I'm playing okay and I'll give it a shot."
2010 Grand Slam of Darts champion Scott Waites, the reigning Lakeside Champion, saw Robert Thornton hit back from 2-1 down to win 5-3 in their clash, with the Scot taking out 114 to secure a hard-fought triumph.
"I really, really enjoyed this," said Thornton. "I've had a good preparation and it's paying off with the doubles going in.
"My form's coming back and Scott didn't play the way he can do, and I'm hoping that I can be relaxed enough tomorrow to win another game and hopefully almost guarantee that I'll go through."
Dimitri Van den Bergh also took victory in Group B as he edged out Gerwyn Price 5-4, with the Welshman hitting back from 4-2 down to force a decider from their clash.
"This was one of the tournaments I was dreaming of qualifying for because you get three games on stage so it's going to be a big experience for me," said Van den Bergh, who now plays THornton.
"I'm glad that I got there in the end and it's pretty important. Winning this game takes huge pressure away from me."
Simon Whitlock raced past teenager Ted Evetts in Group C with a 5-1 triumph, with the youngster missing seven of his eight attempts at a double on his televised debut as the Australian capitalised.
"That's a good win for me," said Whitlock. "This was Ted's first match on TV and I think my experience got me through that, and I played some good darts."
Number five seed Peter Wright also enjoyed a 5-1 win in Group C as he overcame debutant Canadian Jeff Smith, the 2016 Lakeside Championship runner-up.
"Simon's 5-1 win gave me something to follow and it's a nice win but I didn't think it was a good performance from me," said Wright. "Hopefully tomorrow I'll be settled in a little bit better, and that's a totally different prospect.
2010 Grand Slam of Darts finalist James Wade came from three legs down to defeat Tipton's Jamie Hughes 5-3, with the BDO number three having made his Wolves Civic debut just over 24 hours after his partner gave birth to their second daughter.
"I felt really good going up there and when I was 3-0 down I was still pretty confident," said Wade. "I had to wait for him to miss a few doubles but I'll move on and I'll mean business tomorrow."
James Wilson punished 18 missed doubles from Dave Chisnall to take a 5-2 win in their Group G opener, setting himself up for a meeting with Wade on Sunday.
"Dave's a fantastic player and I knew I had to win that first game because it sets the tempo and relaxes you a little bit," said Wilson. "To get that win's awesome. I'm getting better and better, and hopefully I can win this."
The £400,000 tournament continues with another double session on Sunday, as the the players return to the stage for their second group matches, which sees Saturday's winners from each group face off and the losers also meet.
Van Gerwen remains the odds-on 8/11 favourite with Sun Bets, the official betting partner of the SINGHA Beer Grand Slam of Darts, following his opening match, with Anderson's odds cut to 5/1 and Taylor now 11/2 for a seventh Wolverhampton win.
SINGHA Beer Grand Slam of Darts
Saturday November 12
Groups B-C-F-G First Matches
Gerwyn Price 4-5 Dimitri Van den Bergh (B)
Simon Whitlock 5-1 Ted Evetts (C)
Dave Chisnall 2-5 James Wilson (G)
Mensur Suljovic 3-5 Danny Noppert (F)
Robert Thornton 5-3 Scott Waites (B)
Raymond van Barneveld 5-1 Nathan Aspinall (F)
James Wade 5-3 Jamie Hughes (G)
Peter Wright 5-1 Jeff Smith (C)
Groups A-D-E-H First Matches
Brendan Dolan 5-4 Max Hopp (A)
Alan Norris 4-5 Nathan Derry (E)
Ian White 5-3 Darren Webster (D)
Benito van de Pas 5-4 Chris Dobey (H)
Phil Taylor 5-1 Darryl Fitton (D)
Gary Anderson 5-4 Glen Durrant (E)
Michael van Gerwen 5-2 Martin Adams (A)
Adrian Lewis 1-5 Scott Mitchell (H)
Sunday November 13
Afternoon Session (1pm)
Ted Evetts v Jeff Smith (C)
Mensur Suljovic v Nathan Aspinall (F)
Gerwyn Price v Scott Waites (B)
Dave Chisnall v Jamie Hughes (G)
Robert Thornton v Dimitri Van den Bergh (B)
James Wade v James Wilson (G)
Raymond van Barneveld v Danny Noppert (F)
Peter Wright v Simon Whitlock (C)
Evening Session (7pm)
Darren Webster v Daryl Fitton (D)
Adrian Lewis v Chris Dobey (H)
Alan Norris v Glen Durrant (E)
Max Hopp v Martin Adams (A)
Phil Taylor v Ian White (D)
Gary Anderson v Nathan Derry (E)
Michael van Gerwen v Brendan Dolan (A)
Benito van de Pas v Scott Mitchell (H)