MICHAEL VAN GERWEN overcame a scare against Brendan Dolan as he opened his challenge for a fifth European Tour win of 2019 with a narrow 6-5 victory in Sindelfingen on Saturday.
World Champion Van Gerwen has been in stunning form on the European Tour circuit this year, including wins over the past three weeks in Munich, Saarbrucken and Graz.
His bid for success in the European Darts Grand Prix was almost derailed in his opening tie as qualifier Dolan – who defeated Michael Rosenauer on Friday – pushed him all the way.
Dolan had taken victory when the pair met in the Danish Darts Open in 2018, and led 1-0, 3-2, 4-3 and 5-4 during a tight battle.
However, Van Gerwen followed up a 132 bull checkout from leg three with a crucial 94 combination in leg ten before taking victory with a 14-darter – extending his winning record in deciding legs on the European Tour to 24 in the process.
“I’m really glad I won but I had to work really hard for this,” said Van Gerwen. “I didn’t feel confident – you could see it on my doubles – but tomorrow’s a different day.”
Van Gerwen’s opponent in the third round will be James Richardson, who enjoyed a 6-3 win over Mervyn King as he came from 3-2 down with four straight legs.
World number two Rob Cross paid the price for ten missed darts at doubles as he lost out 6-3 to Jeffrey de Zwaan, who claimed his first career victory against the 2018 World Champion.
De Zwaan now plays Michael Smith, who landed seven 180s in his 6-4 win over Polish ace Krzysztof Ratajski to reach the final day of a European Tour event for the first time in 2019.
Nathan Aspinall silenced Max Hopp’s German support as he gained some measure of revenge for his loss in the 2015 World Youth Championship final with an impressive 6-3 success.
“That’s the hardest game I’ve played in my life – I’ve never played in an atmosphere like that,” said Aspinall.
“It was really hard. Max has turned German darts around so full credit to him, so I’m so happy to win. I owe him that for the final!
“It’s another tick in my career that I’ve handled myself well tonight and I’m proud.”
Aspinall’s third round opponent will be Daryl Gurney, who survived three missed match darts from Chris Dobey in his comeback from 5-2 down to snatch a 6-5 win.
Ian White, the runner-up to Van Gerwen in the German Darts Open and Austrian Darts Open over the past fortnight, also escaped missed match darts before edging past World Youth Champion Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-5.
White opens Sunday afternoon’s third round against a former World Youth Champion, after Keegan Brown claimed a 6-2 win over Ricky Evans, taking out 112 and 107 in a run of four straight legs for victory.
Jamie Hughes missed double 12 for a nine-dart finish during his brilliant 6-3 win over Adrian Lewis, as the Tipton ace averaged 103.97 in moving through to play Mark McGeeney.
McGeeney’s European Tour debut continued with a 6-5 win over Joe Cullen, as the Stockport thrower followed an earlier 135 checkout with a 14-darter in their deciding leg.
Steve Beaton was another player to escape in a deciding leg as he survived two missed match darts from Mensur Suljovic to continue his own run of form.
Beaton faces a third round tie on Sunday afternoon against Ryan Searle, who defeated Glen Durrant in Friday’s first round before receiving a second round Bye following the withdrawal of James Wade.
Grand Slam of Darts champion Gerwyn Price averaged 103.41 and finished six doubles from ten attempts in a superb 6-1 win over Gavin Carlin.
The Welshman now plays Darren Webster, who was a narrow 6-5 winner against Vincent van der Voort, coming from 4-3 down to edge into the last 16.
2018 Austrian Darts Open winner Clayton came from 2-1 down to defeat Ross Smith 6-4 as he booked his spot in the third round.
Clayton’s opponent on Sunday afternoon will be Peter Wright, with the six-time European Tour winner also having found himself 2-1 down against Dutch debutant Niels Zonneveld before pulling away to win 6-4.
The European Darts Grand Prix is being held from May 10-12 at the Glaspalast in Sindelfingen, Germany. Coverage will be broadcast through PDCTV-HD for all subscribers worldwide, and through a series of bookmakers’ websites listed at www.pdc.tv.
PIC Credit: Jonas Hunold/PDC Europe