A late surge from Gerwyn Price (13/2 Outright) saw him overcome Martin Schindler 10-8 to book his place in round two of the Betfred World Matchplay at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens.
The “Iceman” is looking to win the Phil Taylor Trophy for the first time while a tournament triumph would elevate him back to world number one.
He was dragged into a close game by the German Schindler but in the latter parts of the contest, he threw some fine arrows and back-to-back 11 darters put him 9-7 ahead.
Ultimately, he was too strong for the debutant and averaged just shy of a ton.
Price will face Dave Chisnall (20/1 Outright) in round two after the 15th seed defeated Belgian Kim Huybrechts 10-7 in the final game of the night.
The match was riddled with breaks of throw as neither player could establish any real advantage.
However, Chisnall held his nerve to win each of the last three legs and advance into the last 16.
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The 2019 Matchplay winner, Rob Cross (12/1 Outright), made a stunning comeback against Chris Dobey to earn his place in round two.
“Voltage” was 8-2 down at the second break but summoned the sort of strength which has carried him to four major TV titles, including the World Championship, to win 11-9 in a tie break.
Cross will take on Jose de Sousa (28/1 Outright) in round two as the Portuguese proved to be too strong for Gabriel Clemens with a 10-6 win.
On Tuesday, round two gets underway with some potentially thrilling ties on the cards.
Dimitri Van den Bergh, defending his winning prize money from 2020, is up first and faces Austrian Rowby-John Rodriguez (Rodriguez 23/10, Van den Bergh 1/3 – Match Betting), who got the better of Jonny Clayton in round one.
The 2007 Matchplay winner James Wade is next up as he faces Nathan Aspinall (Wade 13/10, Aspinall 8/13 – Match Betting), the only unseeded player on show this evening, fresh from his excellent performance against Luke Humphries.
World number one Peter Wright will continue his quest to win a second straight Matchplay title against Pole Krzyzstof Ratajski (Wright 2/5, Ratajski 19/10 – Match Betting).
Finally, the night ends with a repeat of the Premier League final from last month as Michael van Gerwen takes on Joe Cullen (Van Gerwen 8/15, Cullen 6/4 – Match Betting).
The Dutch superstar got past Adrian Lewis 10-7 in a laboured performance while Cullen thrashed Damon Heta 10-2.
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