VAN GERWEN EDGES WEBSTER BUT LEWIS IS SHOCKED IN SINGHA BEER GRAND SLAM OF DARTS OPENER
MICHAEL VAN GERWEN overcame a huge scare against Darren Webster as he opened the SINGHA Beer Grand Slam of Darts with a narrow 5-4 Group A win on Saturday afternoon - but Adrian Lewis was stunning by debutant Rowby-John Rodriguez.
PDC World Champion van Gerwen, the 2012 runner-up at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall, had looked set for a shock defeat to the Wildcard Qualifier when Webster opened up a 3-1 lead in their race to five legs.
However, Norfolk's Webster missed one dart at double top to extend his lead to three legs as van Gerwen hit back to level the game in leg six and leg eight, before the Dutchman took the game's deciding ninth leg with a 104 checkout.
"I didn't play very well - I was rubbish," said a self-critical van Gerwen. "I wasn't comfortable and Darren took his chances, but it's a really important win for me.
I need to get back on the practice board now because I have to play better in my next two games."
Van Gerwen now meets Kim Huybrechts in Sunday's second group games, with the Belgian taking a 5-2 win over Holland's Jan Dekker in the tournament's opening fixture.
Huybrechts finished 143 as he took a 4-0 lead before holding off the Lakeside Championship semi-finalist's brief rally to claim the win, admitting: "I'm trying to play a little bit faster at the moment and just get on with my darts without thinking about it, and it's working."
Webster meets Dekker on Sunday afternoon, and added: "I pushed Michael all the way but I've still got two games left and I could still get through. I love playing the big players and I gave Michael a great game today."
Two-time World Champion Lewis, though, was left stunned by a superb debut from Austrian youngster Rowby-John Rodriguez, who took a 5-2 win from their opening Group C contest.
Lewis shared the opening four legs with the 20-year-old, but the two-time World Champion was punished for misses in the next two as Rodriguez took out 118 and 60 to pull clear before landing his third 180 of the game in a 13-darter to seal victory.
"I was really nervous during the game but I'm so glad to get the win," said Rodriguez, the PDC Unicorn World Youth Championship finalist in May.
I want to relax and play my game and prove myself here, but to win that game against a two-time World Champion is great for me."
Rodriguez will now play Dave Chisnall on Sunday afternoon, with Lewis facing a must-win contest with World Youth Champion Keegan Brown.
Former World Grand Prix finalist Chisnall also impressed as he opened his challenge with a 100 average in a 5-1 win over Brown, who took the opening leg but saw the St Helens man level with a 103 finish to spark a run of five successive legs.
2012 Grand Slam of Darts champion Raymond van Barneveld opened Group D with a 5-3 win over debutant Robbie Green, who hit back from 4-1 down to trail just 4-3 before the Dutchman sealed victory on double six.
"I wasn't at my best today but I got the win, and hopefully I'll be better tomorrow," said van Barneveld. "This is a special tournament and I love this venue and crowd, so hopefully I can have another good week."
Van Barneveld will face an all-Dutch second game against Vincent van der Voort, who defeated Robert Thornton 5-2 in their opener.
Thornton replied to a 127 checkout from his opponent in the game's opening leg by finishing 93 and 161 to move 2-1 up in a heavy-scoring opening.
Van der Voort, though, levelled with a 158 finish and hit back-to-back 180s as he wrestled back the lead, before punishing the Scot's missed doubles to close out the win.
"I'm really happy with that win and it was a great performance," said van der Voort. "You have to be in there straight away in this format and when Robert gave me chances I took them."
Alan Norris and Terry Jenkins were the Group B winners on the opening afternoon as they set up a tasty Sunday afternoon fixture with wins over Ronny Huybrechts and Scott Waites.
Norris, the Lakeside Championship runner-up, enjoyed a winning Grand Slam debut with a 5-2 victory over Belgian ace Huybrechts, winning the game's final three legs without reply.
"I didn't perform as well as I can do, but it's my first game and I just wanted to get through it and get the first win under my belt," said Norris. "I'm sure I'll improve as the week goes on."
Jenkins won in the same manner against 2010 Grand Slam champion Waites, who now faces Huybrechts on Sunday in a key clash if the former Lakeside Champion is to maintain his fine record on the Wolves Civic stage.
|85.78||0||2/11||Waites ||2:5|| Jenkins||94.83||2||5/10|
|97.19||3||2/11||Thornton ||2:5|| van der Voort||99.26||2||5/6|
|85.63||1||5/11||Norris ||5:2|| R.Huybrechts||89.86||1||2/13|
|100.84||5||5/11||Chisnall ||5:1|| Brown||93.04||0||1/7|
|90.32||2||5/6||v.Gerwen ||5:4|| Webster||94.64||0||4/12|