Rob Cross tasted victory at the BoyleSports World Grand Prix for the first time with a 2-1 defeat of Mensur Suljovic on Monday night, as Daryl Gurney and Gerwyn Price were knocked out of the double-start event in Dublin.
World Matchplay champion Cross had failed to win a set in his previous two appearances at the Citywest Convention Centre, losing out 2-0 to Steve Beaton in 2017 and 2018.
However, the number two seed laid those demons to rest with a three-set victory over world number nine Suljovic in a tasty first-round contest.
The first two sets were shared as Cross won the opener 3-1 before his Austrian rival levelled without reply, but the Hastings ace came from a leg down to win the decider 3-1 as he moved into round two.
“I never seem to relax here so I’m just grateful to win,” said Cross. “Mensur wasn’t at his best and maybe we showed each other too much respect, but I’ve practised hard and I was confident.
“The longer format in the next round is better because it’s cut-throat in the first round, and if I can relax the fans might see a bit more of me.”
Cross now meets Glen Durrant, who enjoyed a winning debut at the Citywest Convention Centre after overturning a one-set deficit to defeat Krzysztof Ratajski 2-1.
Ratajski had produced the best set of the tournament so far with three 15-dart legs to move ahead, landing checkouts of 109 and 103 as he took the early advantage.
However, Durrant traded 13-darters with the Polish number one as he took the second set 3-1, before repeating the scoreline in set three to secure victory, finishing 98 to book his last 16 place with 6/9 on his finishing doubles.
“Krzysztof has been playing so well recently so I’m delighted to win,” said the reigning Lakeside Champion. “I’m pleased to be through but it didn’t feel pretty and I’ve got a lot to work on.
“I have to work on my scoring, but my doubles were a positive.”
Third seed Gurney, the 2017 champion, was knocked out in straight sets as Danny Noppert secured his first victory in the double-start event.
Northern Irish ace Gurney took an early 2-1 lead, but paid the price for missing five set darts across the next two legs as Noppert capitalised, before the Dutchman took the second without reply.
“It feels good,” said Noppert. “Daryl missed a lot of doubles and I took my chances, and to win against a top ten player is brilliant for me.
“I’m over the moon with this win and it means a lot to me. I’m in the tournament now and looking forward to Wednesday evening.”
Noppert now meets UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall, who dropped just one leg as he swept past Vincent van der Voort to enjoy a winning World Grand Prix debut.
The UK Open champion’s progression into the world’s top 16 helped to secure his place in the double-start event for the first time, but it was his superb finishing which proved critical as he took out six doubles from eight attempts.
He won the opening set without reply, including the first “whitewash” leg of this year’s event in the third, firing in a 12-darter as the Dutchman missed nine starting doubles.
Aspinall also took the opening two legs of set two, with Van der Voort getting off the mark in the third before tops sealed victory for the Stockport ace.
“It was a good win,” said Aspinall, who averaged 92. “My starting was good and I hit the doubles at the crucial times. I’m happy to win on my debut and it couldn’t have gone much better.”
Dave Chisnall edged out Price in a deciding leg as the 2013 finalist produced a fine comeback from a set down to move into the last 16.
Price produced finishes of 76 and 128 before defying an 11-darter from Chisnall to take the opening set in a decider, only for the Morecambe ace to race through the second without reply.
The third set was finely poised as the pair traded breaks of throw before the game progressed to a sudden-death leg, but Price missed nine starting doubles to allow Chisnall in, with a 99 checkout knocking out the sixth seed.
“I’m very happy with that,” said Chisnall, who now meets Stephen Bunting. “It was tough for both of us and I had to battle, but I got the job done in the end.
“At two-all in the last set, it could have been anyone’s game and luckily I got off to a good start and punished him. I was tight on my doubles today and that won me the game.”
Bunting sealed a place in the last 16 with a straight sets victory over Jonny Clayton, punishing the Welsh ace for 24 missed doubles across the contest.
Bunting, a former semi-finalist, raced through the field set without reply, before a 96 finish and a 13-darter helped him to move 2-1 up in leg three.
Clayton followed an earlier 115 checkout with double 16 to level, but missed four darts to take the set in the deciding leg as Bunting returned on double 18 to complete the win.
“I wasn’t at my best but it was enough and I’m glad to be through,” said Bunting. “I felt great in practice and coming into the match, and I can build on this.
“Jonny struggled on his doubles and I took the chances that he gave me, but I’ll be better in the next round.
“I’ve had some success here by reaching the semi-finals before and I love the format. This is one event where I’ve got a good chance if I can hit my starting doubles and score like I can.”
2018 finalist Peter Wright began his challenge to go one better this time around with a 2-0 defeat of Max Hopp.
German youngster Hopp opened with a 14-darter, but Wright hit back to win the first set in a deciding leg before taking the second by a 3-1 scoreline to set up a second round meeting with Jermaine Wattimena.
“It’s a good win for me because it’s always tough in the first round, so I’m happy,” said Wright. “The performance could have been better, but I’m through and that’s all that matters.”
Wattimena came from a set down to overcome Adrian Lewis 2-1, as the Dutchman moved into round two for a second successive year.
A strong start for Lewis saw him win set one by a 3-1 scoreline, and he twice levelled in set two to move a leg away from victory at two-all, only for double 16 to give Wattimena the set.
The Dutchman then finished 88 as he led in the third, before taking the next two legs to complete his fightback.
“I think that’s my biggest win on stage,” said Wattimena. “Everyone knows what Adrian’s done in his career and he’s an amazing player.
“Winning the second set gave me a lot of confidence. I’d struggled at the beginning but I fought back well.”
The second round begins on Tuesday night, with reigning champion Michael van Gerwen up against Dutch rival Jeffrey de Zwaan – who has won their last two televised meetings at the 2018 UK Open and World Matchplay.
Two-time World Grand Prix winner James Wade plays Mervyn King, Gary Anderson takes on Chris Dobey and Michael Smith faces Ian White.
The BoyleSports World Grand Prix is being held from October 6-12, broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK, on PDCTV-HD for Rest of the World Subscribers and through the PDC’s worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and RTL7.
Tickets are still available – click here to secure your seat.
2019 BoyleSports World Grand Prix
Monday October 7 (1900)
Stephen Bunting 2-0 Jonny Clayton (3-0, 3-2)
Nathan Aspinall 2-0 Vincent van der Voort (3-0, 3-1)
Jermaine Wattimena 2-1 Adrian Lewis (1-3, 3-2, 3-0)
Glen Durrant 2-1 Krzysztof Ratajski (0-3, 3-1, 3-1)
Danny Noppert 2-0 Daryl Gurney (3-2, 3-0)
Dave Chisnall 2-1 Gerwyn Price (2-3, 3-0, 3-2)
Rob Cross 2-1 Mensur Suljovic (3-1, 0-3, 3-1)
Peter Wright 2-0 Max Hopp (3-2, 3-1)
Tuesday October 8 (1900 start)
Second Round x4
James Wade v Mervyn King
Michael Smith v Ian White
Michael van Gerwen v Jeffrey de Zwaan
Gary Anderson v Chris Dobey
Wednesday October 9 (1900 start)
Second Round x4
Danny Noppert v Nathan Aspinall
Dave Chisnall v Stephen Bunting
Rob Cross v Glen Durrant
Peter Wright v Jermaine Wattimena
Second Round – best of five sets, best of five legs per set. All legs must begin and end with a double.