STEVE BEATON rolled back the years
STEVE BEATON rolled back the years once again to knock out World Champion Rob Cross in round one of the Unibet World Grand Prix in Dublin.
Former semi-finalist Beaton dropped just one leg as he ran out a comfortable 2-0 winner, dumping out the world number three in the opening round of the double-start event for a second successive year.
Making his 15th appearance at the Citywest Convention Centre, the 54-year-old proved more clinical on both starting and finishing doubles to seal his passage to the last 16 of the 400,000 pound tournament.
"Knowing I'd beaten him at this stage last year was an advantage for me, I was determined to win again," said Beaton, who will take on Gerwyn Price in round two.
"We had a bit of banter in the practice room that the last time I beat him here he went on to become World Champion!
"It sounds strange to say it but Rob is more experienced than me at the moment, in terms of his big stage play in 2018 so that makes the win all the more satisfying."
Superior scoring saw passionate Welshman Price roar his way to a 2-0 win over debutant Danny Noppert.
Having wrapped up the opening set, the world number 12 became embroiled in a second set battle as Noppert missed two darts to take the tie to a deciding set before Price punished with double five to finish the job.
The game of the evening saw former runner-up Adrian Lewis edge past Michael Smith in a high-class encounter which saw 13 maximums thrown between the pair.
Lewis took the opening set before Smith fought back to level and set up a tense third set. The tie looked set to go all the way to a deciding leg, only for Smith to miss three darts at double 12 before the two-time World Champion punished him with a 45 checkout.
"I felt a bit edgy towards the end so I'm glad to get over the line in that one," said Lewis, a Dublin finalist in 2010.
"I knew it was going to be a tough game, Michael has been playing well for a few years now, so it's a big confidence-booster for me to get through that one.
"If I can get my pace of play right then I know I will be able to march back up the rankings, back into the top four in the world where I feel I belong."
Lewis will meet James Wilson in the second round after the Yorkshireman battled his way to a hard-fought 2-1 win over last year's runner-up Simon Whitlock.
Defeats for Whitlock and Cross made it six years since all eight seeded players survived the opening round, but number two seed Peter Wright had no such problems in his 2-0 whitewash of Steve West.
The Scot was in ruthless mood as he produced the performance of the night, averaging 98.02 and denying West a dart at a finishing double to begin his quest for a first Dublin title.
"It was a really tough game as I knew it would be, Steve has beaten some of the best players in the world on TV," said Wright.
"I knew I had to be on top of my game because if I wasn't then I would've been going out early doors.
"Last year I was disappointed to go out at the quarter-final stage but this year I feel ready to go two steps further."
Wright will now meet Dutch debutant Jermaine Wattimena, who took no time to adjust to the double-start format, missing just two darts at a starting double as he blew away former finalist Mervyn King 2-0.
Mensur Suljovic reached the semi-finals of last year's tournament and continued his good form on the Dublin stage as he cruised to a 2-0 victory over two-time winner James Wade.
The Austrian will now take on world number ten Ian White, who staved off a late Josh Payne rally to defeat the debutant 2-0.
|Ave||180s||Doubles Out||Player||v||Player ||Ave||180s||Doubles Out|
|81.70||4||3/13||Payne ||0:2||White ||83.01||6||6/17|