16-year-old host-nation qualifier Nico Blum sent the German crowd into raptures with a brilliant debut victory on the European Tour, as Vincent van der Voort, Mervyn King & Paul Nicholson also triumphed on a dramatic opening day of action at the German Darts Open in Saarbrucken on Friday.
16-year-old sensation Nico Blum marked his European Tour debut with a memorable 6-4 victory over former Pro Tour winner Josh Payne. Blum is the first player in this millennium to compete on the PDC European Tour, and the young German held his nerve impressively to prevail with an 85.49 average and 32% on the doubles.
Vincent van der Voort survived four match darts as he edged out his compatriot Dirk van Duijvenbode in a nail-biting affair. Dirk landed three maximums but missed 20 darts at double; busting D8 in the decider by hitting D11, as Van der Voort sneaked through with an 85.68 average to set up a round-two tussle against thirteenth seed Joe Cullen.
Mervyn King edged out Robbie Green in a gripping deciding-leg to set up a meeting with ninth seed Kim Huybrechts. Green fired in three maximums and registered finishes of 110 and 160, but it proved immaterial. The pair exchanged maximums in a thrilling final leg, as King rounded-off victory inside 14 darts to triumph an impressive 97.16 average.
Former World-Youth finalist Nathan Aspinall produced a terrific display to dump out former World Grand Prix champion Robert Thornton. ‘The Asp’ averaged 94.55, fired in three maximums and converted six of his eight attempts at double, to set up a tasty second-round tie against sixth seed Dave Chisnall.
Rob Cross impressed on his European Tour debut with a thumping 6-1 win over Dutch star Jeffrey de Graaf. Cross, who clinched his maiden PDC title at Players Championship Three last month, averaged 95.54, landed two maximums, a 177 and a 174, whilst also converting finishes of 68, 89 and 109 to triumph in emphatic fashion.
Paul Nicholson continued his resurgence to book a second-round clash against Benito van de Pas, after producing a professional display to dismantle young German Martin Schindler. ‘The Asset’ crashed in four maximums, took out an exhibition style 100 finish (S20, D20, D20) and finished with a 92.68 average as he breezed to a 6-1 victory.
Dimitri van den Bergh produced a clinical display to whitewash former world finalist Andy Hamilton. ‘The Hammer’ was making his first European Tour appearance of 2017, but the Belgian showed no mercy; averaging 91.09, landing two maximums and dispatching 55% of his double attempts, as Hamilton departed Germany empty-handed.
Darren Webster impressed on his first European Tour appearance of 2017; easing past recent Players Championship finalist Peter Jacques, who was making his European Tour debut. Jacques didn’t miss a dart at double, but ‘The Demolition Man’ lived up to his nickname; landing five maximums and averaging 97.15 to prevail by a 6-3 scoreline.
Mark Walsh rolled back the years to edge out in-form Dutchman Jimmy Hendriks in a last-leg shootout. Walsh averaged 95.01, crashed in four maximums and took out a classy 136 checkout to establish a 4-2 cushion. Hendriks fought back valiantly to force a final leg, but Walsh triumphed with a stunning 121 outshot in the decider.
Ronny Huybrechts breezed through to round-two with a whitewash victory over Zoran Lerchbacher. ‘The Rebel’ averaged 88.41, landed two maximums and converted 38% of his attempts at double, to ease past the under-par Austrian and set up a second-round showdown with world number one Michael van Gerwen.
Former Lakeside world champion Christian Kist set up an all-Dutch clash with Jelle Klaasen in round-two, after recording a hard-fought victory over European Tour debutant Steve Lennon. Kist’s experience paid dividends, as he punished thirteen missed doubles from Lennon to sneak home 6-4 with a modest 84.22 average.
Warrick Scheffer reeled off five consecutive legs to prevail on his European Tour debut against Finland World Cup star Marko Kantele. Kantele established an early 3-1 advantage, but the South African then won five legs on the spin; averaging 86.60 and converting 43% of his double attempts to set up a second-round tie against Ian White.
James Richardson will take on UK Open finalist Gerwyn Price on Saturday afternoon, after defeating an off-colour John Henderson in round-one. Richardson raced into an early 4-0 lead and although Henderson reduced the arrears to 5-3, ‘Ruthless’ dispatched a fine 111 checkout via D16 to seal his progression with an 83.90 average.
Krzysztof Ratajski produced a clinical display of finishing to defeat Jamie Bain and set up a second-round tie against another Scot; second seed Peter Wright. Ratajski converted 104 finishes in successive legs to establish an early 3-1 cushion, before closing out a comfortable 6-3 triumph with an 86.03 average and a 46% checkout success rate.
Adam Hunt fended off a spirited fightback from host-nation qualifier Rene Berndt to book his place in round-two. Hunt eased into a commanding 5-1 lead, before Berndt claimed the next two legs inside 25 darts to threaten a fightback. However, the Newcastle ace held his nerve to convert a clinical two-dart 100 kill to prevail with a 93.04 average.
Host-nation qualifier Bernd Roith prevailed in a marathon eleven-leg tussle with Brian Woods, to set up a second-round tussle with former Lakeside world champion Stephen Bunting. Woods led 4-2 but became embroiled with the crowd, as Roith won four of the remaining five legs to edge through with a 79.16 average, compared to Woods’ 71.98.
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