SMITH & PRICE REACH LAST EIGHT IN LEICESTER, AS ANDERSON EXITS
Michael Smith and Gerwyn Price raced through to the quarter-finals of the BoyleSports World Grand Prix on Wednesday, as Gary Anderson crashed out on a dramatic night of action.
Day Three of the unique double-start event saw the second round begin in Leicester, and it was World Champion Smith who took centre stage at the Morningside Arena.
Top seed Smith underlined his credentials with a dominant display against 2011 runner-up Brendan Dolan, running out an emphatic 3-0 winner to break new ground at the World Grand Prix.
The world number one had never reached the quarter-finals in ten previous appearances, but he produced a clinical display on the outer ring to set up a last eight showdown against Andrew Gilding.
Smith converted 96, 91 and 64 checkouts to open his account, and the St Helens star continued his fine finishing to extend his lead against the struggling Northern Irishman.
Dolan was unable to muster the form that saw him dispose of Dirk van Duijvenbode in round one, and Smith continued the procession, converting back-to-back 105 finishes to cap off a classy performance.
"I've waited so long to get past the second round at the World Grand Prix, so I'm over the moon," revealed Smith, who has conceded just three legs in reaching the quarter-finals.
"I'm a little bit disappointed with the way I played. I had three legs after breaking Brendan where I didn't start with a double, and that sticks in your head.
"It was a matter of trying to overcome that [frustration], but those two 105 checkouts in the last two legs were pretty good, and now I just want to see what happens from here."
Price also moved through to the last eight with a straight-sets success, overcoming Krzysztof Ratajski in a contest which saw all three sets go the distance.
The Welshman landed 120 and 116 finishes to clinch a high-quality opening stanza, and he withstood a spirited rally from Poland's premier player to double his tally in set two.
Despite landing a 130 outshot midway through set three, Ratajski then squandered three set darts to halve the deficit, and he was suitably punished by Price, who pinned tops to seal his progress.
"I started off really strongly in the first set," reflected 2020 champion Price, who landed five 180s and pinned 45 per cent of his darts at a finishing double.
"I found the pace of the game really difficult, but I'm just happy to get through and I'm into the quarter-finals, so I will put that one behind me.
"I'm defending a final spot from two years ago, so hopefully I can go one step better. I've already won this title before, so I know what it takes, but I need to play a lot better than that."
In the evening's opener, UK Open champion Gilding produced a terrific fightback to dump out 2016 finalist Anderson and move through to his maiden World Grand Prix quarter-final.
Anderson won two of the opening three sets without reply to lead 2-1, although Gilding was unfazed, winning six of the last seven legs to celebrate a landmark big-stage win over the Scot.
"In all my games lately, I've just been capitalising on my opponents' mistakes," admitted Gilding, who also fought back from a set down to dump out eighth seed Rob Cross in round one.
"I did the same in the UK Open to be honest. I didn't play that well through the tournament, I was just there when I needed to be.
"I never thought I would win a major tournament, and now I'm dreaming of winning another, but Michael is playing well. He is so natural and it will be hard to beat him."
Elsewhere, Martin Schindler became the first German player to progress to the quarter-finals of the World Grand Prix, converting three ton-plus finishes to deny Stephen Bunting in a five-set thriller.
Bunting's rip-roaring start to the contest saw him follow up a 138 checkout with an opening set average of 104, and he continued his rampant run to draw first blood in set two with an 11-darter.
Schindler turned the tide in supreme style, restoring parity with a clinical 112 kill, before following up a majestic 160 checkout with a two-dart 87 combination to hit the front.
Bunting responded by nailing a 70 skin-saver to force a deciding set, although a spirited Schindler held his nerve, producing a 103 checkout to seal a spot in his second televised quarter-final.
"This win means a lot to me," said Schindler, who also saw off two-time runner-up Raymond van Barneveld on Monday's opening night.
"I am so very happy to be through. These are the tournaments where you have to perform and you have to show what you're capable of, and I'm really enjoying it."
The second round action continues on Thursday night, as reigning champion Michael van Gerwen continues his title defence against Masters champion Chris Dobey.
Former finalist Peter Wright takes on Ryan Searle, European Champion Ross Smith meets Joe Cullen, while sixth seed Luke Humphries kicks off Thursday's action against debutant Luke Woodhouse.