PETER WRIGHT bounced back to form as he began his defence of the European Darts Open title in Leverkusen on Saturday, where Rob Cross producing an outstanding display to see off Adrian Lewis.
World number two Wright won five European Tour events last year, but travelled to Leverkusen on the back of three successive 7-1 defeats in the Unibet Premier League.
However, he returned to top form to see off Woodhouse 6-3 and secure his place in Sunday’s final day of action in the £135,000 tournament.
Wright responded to a 99 finish from Woodhouse – which featured two double tops – with a 161 checkout for a 12-dart finish before landing three successive 13-darters as he pulled from two-all to 5-2.
Woodhouse responded with a 14-darter, but Wright replied in kind as a 78 finish sealed his last 16 place, hitting six doubles from eight attempts.
Wright, as always, was given huge support by the German crowd, and admitted: “I’ve been struggling but these fans make me believe in myself and they helped me get through that game.”
World Champion Cross was close to his best with a brilliant 107.44 average in a 6-1 win over former European Tour event winner Lewis.
Lewis had edged past Ritchie Edhouse in Friday’s first round and shared the opening two legs with Cross, who then finished 103 for a 12-darter, 112 to break and legs of 12 and 13 darts for a 5-1 lead before closing out victory.
“I played really well tonight and I was glad to get the win,” said Cross. “When I play I seem to go into a bubble, and when I’ve got it right I don’t think anything can touch me.”
Michael van Gerwen overcame a slow start against Cameron Menzies by coming from 2-0 down to defeat the Scot 6-3, with an 11-darter in leg five moving the world number one into a lead he would not relinquish.
Michael Smith, who won last year’s Gibraltar Darts Trophy, stormed into a 4-0 lead against Darren Johnson before closing out a 6-3 win with a 99.48 average.
Smith now plays James Wade, who followed up Friday’s victory over Steve Beaton with a win over another former Lakeside Champion as the left-hander produced a strong display to see off Jelle Klaasen 6-3.
Simon Whitlock was in stunning finishing form as he overcame Poland’s Tytus Kanik 6-2, taking out key 64, 88 and 100 checkouts as he landed six doubles from seven attempts.
Whitlock now plays another former European Tour winner, Dave Chisnall, in the last 16.
Chisnall overcame some early double trouble to claim a 6-1 win over Finland’s Marko Kantele, with the St Helens ace hitting seven perfect darts in one leg.
Top Austrian Mensur Suljovic held off a spirited challenge from Jamie Hughes and now meets Mervyn King, who hit six doubles from eight attempts to end German hopes with a 6-2 win over Gabriel Clemens, who took out a 139 finish as he exited the event.
Chris Dobey, a Players Championship finalist last weekend, hit six doubles from ten attempts as he overcame Kim Huybrechts 6-2, including checkouts of 113, 71, 76 and 91 on his way to the last 16.
Joe Cullen came from 3-0 and 5-4 down as he moved through to a meeting with Dobey in the third round, edging past Dutch debutant Danny Noppert 6-5.
Justin Pipe ended Ian White’s hopes of back-to-back ranking titles by overcoming last Sunday’s Players Championship winner 6-1 with a clinical display, hitting six doubles from 11 attempts and winning the opening four legs without reply.
He now plays Ron Meulenkamp, who came from 2-0 and 4-2 down to defeat Daryl Gurney 6-4, landing seven perfect darts in a ten-darter in one leg as well as punishing 13 missed doubles from the number five seed.
Richard North knocked out Gerwyn Price in a deciding leg, landing a 180 in a 14-darter to deny the Welshman as he claimed a 6-5 triumph as he set up a meeting with Cross.
John Henderson pulled clear from three-all to claim a 6-4 win over Kyle Anderson, following up Friday’s defeat of Maik Langendorf with a strong victory, averaging 98.19 and hitting four 180s as he moves through to play Wright.
Alan Norris moved into the last 16 with a 6-4 defeat of Dutchman Jermaine Wattimena, sharing the opening six legs before pulling clear for victory, and he now takes on Van Gerwen in round three.
The European Darts Open concludes on Sunday, with the third round being held in the afternoon session before the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final see the event conclude in the evening session.
2018 European Darts Open
Saturday March 24
Ian White 1-6 Justin Pipe
Gerwyn Price 5-6 Richard North
Kyle Anderson 4-6 John Henderson
Dave Chisnall 6-1 Marko Kantele
Alan Norris 6-4 Jermaine Wattimena
Kim Huybrechts 2-6 Chris Dobey
Joe Cullen 6-5 Danny Noppert
Mervyn King 6-2 Gabriel Clemens
Simon Whitlock 6-2 Tytus Kanik
Daryl Gurney 4-6 Ron Meulenkamp
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Cameron Menzies
Peter Wright 6-3 Luke Woodhouse
Rob Cross 6-1 Adrian Lewis
Jelle Klaasen 3-6 James Wade
Mensur Suljovic 6-4 Jamie Hughes
Michael Smith 6-3 Darren Johnson
Sunday March 25
Afternoon Session (1pm local time, 12pm GMT)
Michael van Gerwen v Alan Norris
Simon Whitlock v Dave Chisnall
Ron Meulenkamp v Justin Pipe
Rob Cross v Richard North
Peter Wright v John Henderson
Joe Cullen v Chris Dobey
Mensur Suljovic v Mervyn King
Michael Smith v James Wade
Evening Session (7.15pm local time, 6.15pm GMT)
Van Gerwen/Norris v Whitlock/Chisnall
Meulenkamp/Pipe v Cross/North
Wright/Henderson v Cullen/Dobey
Suljovic/King v Smith/Wade
All games up to and including the quarter-finals are the best of 11 legs, with the semi-finals being the best of 13 legs and the final being the best of 15 legs. Sunday’s games will be played in draw bracket order.