Michael van Gerwen produced a statement of intent at the Austrian Darts Championship with a 103 average as he joined home favourites Mensur Suljovic and Rowby-John Rodriguez in the last 16 in Vienna.
Van Gerwen won four of the opening five European Tour events in 2019, but has not taken victory since the Austrian Darts Open in May.
However, he was in dominant mood with a 103 average in a 6-2 win over Kyle Anderson, claiming the opening two legs to take command and three in a row to lead 5-1 before closing out victory.
“I think I played well overall,” said Van Gerwen, a World Series winner in Melbourne and Hamilton over the past two weekends.
“I only had two bad legs but I won my game quite comfortably. I’ll be back tomorrow and I hope I can do even more.”
Van Gerwen will now face an all-Dutch third round tie with Jeffrey de Zwaan, who hit six doubles from 11 attempts in a clinical 6-4 win over Darren Webster.
Austrian number one Mensur Suljovic delighted his home crowd with a 6-2 defeat of Czech debutant Adam Gawlas to end the 17-year-old’s hopes in Vienna.
Gawlas had impressed in a first round win over Ross Smith, and came from 3-0 down to trail just 3-2 before Suljovic pulled clear for victory, averaging 96 and hitting six doubles from ten attempts.
Suljovic is joined in the last 16 by former World Youth Championship finalist Rodriguez, who was a 6-4 winner against world number three Daryl Gurney on Saturday.
Rodriguez produced one of the performances of his career in a 6-4 victory, rising to the occasion in a high-quality contest which saw Gurney average 101 and land a ten-darter as he led 2-1 and 3-2, only for Rodriguez to claim four of the next five for victory.
“I’m absolutely delighted to be in the third round in front of my home crowd,” said Rodriguez, who saw off Josh Payne in round one. “To win yesterday was great and this was even better.
“I knew that the crowd would be behind me if I played well and it helped me a lot. It’s the one time a year they get to see me and I’m happy that I’ll be back on stage on Sunday.”
Rodriguez’s younger brother Rusty-Jake lost out earlier in the day as he went down 6-1 to Ian White, who opened his bid to win a third European Tour event of the year in comfortable fashion.
Peter Wright held off a resilient fightback from Dimitri Van den Bergh to book his spot in the last 16 with a narrow 6-5 win over the Belgian.
Wright took an early 3-0 lead and held a 5-2 advantage before the World Youth Champion kept the tie alive with three straight legs, but a 13-darter in the decider secured victory for the Scot.
Joe Cullen set up a tasty third round tie with Wright, defeating Luke Humphries 6-2 to move into the last 16.
Cullen opened with a 12-darter but saw Humphries share the opening four legs, only for missed doubles from the youngster in the next two to allow the Yorkshireman to pull clear.
Cameron Menzies produced a memorable display to book his spot in the final day with a 6-2 defeat of World Championship finalist Michael Smith.
Menzies maintained the momentum from Friday’s 6-1 win over Kevin Munch by taking out 148 for a 12-darter in leg one, and he led 2-0 and 4-1 before Smith took out 109 in reply, but two further legs sealed victory for the Scot.
“I think that’s one of the best wins I’ve ever had,” said Menzies. “I’m absolutely buzzing.
“Michael’s one of the best players in the world at the moment and he didn’t play anywhere near his standards, but I’m happy with that.”
Adrian Lewis hit back from 2-0 and 4-3 down to defeat German youngster Christian Bunse 6-4 as he set up a third round tie with Menzies.
Bunse started strongly to take the opening two legs, before Lewis finished 105 and 78 to level.
Bunse also took two of the next three, but a 76 checkout saw Lewis square the game again before successive double top finishes sealed progression for the two-time World Champion.
Gerwyn Price hit back from 4-3 down to book his third round place in Vienna with a 6-4 defeat of Brendan Dolan, averaging over 99 and finishing six doubles from 11 attempts.
A tight opening saw the first six legs shared before Dolan finished 104 – with his opponent waiting on 40 – to move ahead in leg seven, but Price levelled and then broke throw by taking out 116 for a 12-darter before tops sealed the win.
Price now plays Vincent van der Voort, who came from 3-0 down to book his spot in Sunday’s final stages with a rousing 6-4 defeat of Simon Whitlock.
Whitlock landed two 13-darters on his way to a 3-0 lead, only to see Van der Voort take four in a row, including a 161 checkout for a 12-darter, as he edged ahead.
The Australian finished 130 on the bull to level in leg eight, but the next two went to Van der Voort as the former Austrian Darts Open winner continued his bid for further European Tour glory.
Dave Chisnall began his challenge to follow up June’s Danish Darts Open win with a second European Tour title of the year with a fine 6-2 win over Dietmar Burger.
The Austrian qualifier led 1-0 and 2-1, but Chisnall moved ahead for the first time by finishing 106 to break in leg five, and pulled clear to seal victory with six doubles from eight attempts and a 99 average.
Ricky Evans averaged 100 in a superb 6-1 defeat of former World Championship finalist Kirk Shepherd to open his challenge to reach a second European Tour final of the year.
The Kettering ace reeled off the opening four legs before Shepherd took out 110 in leg five, but Evans was not to be denied as he claimed the next two to seal a third round place against Chisnall.
James Wilson survived three missed match darts from Steve Beaton before securing his place in the last 16 against Suljovic with a narrow 6-5 triumph.
Beaton hit back from 3-2 down to lead 5-4, but missed two match darts in leg ten and a further dart for victory in a tense decider before Wilson landed double four to claim his second win in as many days.
Keegan Brown secured a place in the final day of a European Tour event for the fifth time in 2019 with a 6-4 win over UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall, averaging 99 in a fine display to create a clash with White.
Brown raced into leads of 3-1 and 5-2 before Aspinall finished 121 and then survived two missed match darts as he pulled back to 5-4, but the Stockport ace was unable to prevent his rival landing tops in leg ten to seal the win.
Mike De Decker set up a third round tie with Rodriguez by punishing Jonny Clayton’s 19 missed doubles with a 6-3 victory over the former Austrian Darts Open winner.
Clayton led 2-1, but saw De Decker claim five of the next six legs to take victory, with the Belgian landing a huge 158 checkout in leg eight on his way to the last 16.
Sunday will see the £140,000 tournament conclude across two sessions, with the afternoon’s third round being followed in the evening by the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final at the Multiversum Schwechat.
The Austrian Darts Championship will be broadcast through PDCTV-HD at video.pdc.tv for all subscribers worldwide, as well as through a series of bookmakers’ websites.
2019 Austrian Darts Championship
Saturday August 31
James Wilson 6-5 Steve Beaton
Vincent van der Voort 6-4 Simon Whitlock
Gerwyn Price 6-4 Brendan Dolan
Dave Chisnall 6-2 Dietmar Burger
Ricky Evans 6-1 Kirk Shepherd
Cameron Menzies 6-2 Michael Smith
Ian White 6-1 Rusty-Jake Rodriguez
Adrian Lewis 6-4 Christian Bunse
Keegan Brown 6-4 Nathan Aspinall
Rowby-John Rodriguez 6-4 Daryl Gurney
Mike De Decker 6-3 Jonny Clayton
Peter Wright 6-5 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Mensur Suljovic 6-2 Adam Gawlas
Joe Cullen 6-2 Luke Humphries
Michael van Gerwen 6-2 Kyle Anderson
Jeffrey de Zwaan 6-4 Darren Webster
Sunday September 1
Afternoon Session (1300 local time, 1200 BST)
Gerwyn Price v Vincent van der Voort
Adrian Lewis v Cameron Menzies
Mensur Suljovic v James Wilson
Ian White v Keegan Brown
Rowby-John Rodriguez v Mike De Decker
Peter Wright v Joe Cullen
Dave Chisnall v Ricky Evans
Michael van Gerwen v Jeffrey de Zwaan
Evening Session (1915 local time, 1815 BST)
Sunday’s games played in Draw Bracket order
All games up to and including the quarter-finals are the best of 11 legs, with the semi-finals the best of 13 legs and the final the best of 15 legs.