Debutants Rock The Palace

Red Dragon Darts

Jock Rock, Martin Lukeman, Cameron Menzies and Adam Gawlas were victorious in their first matches on the sport’s biggest stage.

Rock, one of the title favourites following a sensational 2022, defeated Jose Justicia 3-1 on his highly-anticipated World Championship debut.

The World Youth Champion, who hit a nine-darter at November’s Grand Slam of Darts, was pegged back to 1-1 by his Spanish opponent but kept his composure to win the last two sets, pinning a 150 checkout along the way.

“My performance wasn’t great, a 93 average is not my game at all,” said Rock, who will meet Callan Rydz in round two.

“I said I wasn’t going to feel the pressure but I did once I got up there; I think I coped with it okay.

“My confidence is sky-high, I won’t complain about the pressure of being one of the favourites because that is a positive.

“I’m eager to perform how I know I can in the next game, I’m confident I can have a good run here.”

Another breakout star of 2022, Lukeman enjoyed a stress-free debut as he breezed past Nobuhiro Yamamoto in straight sets.

Lukeman dropped just three legs against Japan’s Yamamoto, who went six darts into an unlikely nine-darter in the third set.

“I felt comfortable in the game but he was a bit of a slow player, so it took me a little while to get into it,” admitted Lukeman, who will meet Martin Schindler in round two.

“I won and that’s all that matters, I’m looking forward to the Martin Schindler game now.

“It felt brilliant being up there; I thought it was going to be the same as other TV events I’ve played in but this is completely different.

“Now I’ve played one game up there I feel adjusted to my surroundings ahead of the next one.”

Doubling accuracy proved pivotal for Menzies in his 3-1 win over Brazil’s Diogo Portela, while Czech youngster Gawlas came from behind to claim a hard-fought 3-2 win over former Lakeside Champion Richie Burnett.

Ryan Meikle ran out a 3-2 winner against Lisa Ashton, but had to fend off a remarkable comeback attempt from the four-time BDO Women’s Champion.

Both players were finding the doubles with ease as Meikle raced into a two-set lead, before a 117 checkout from Ashton sparked a run which saw her win six legs from eight to force a deciding set.

However, set five proved to be one-way traffic as Meikle took it 3-0 to earn the right to take on five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld in the second round.

Reflecting on the result, Meikle said: “I felt like I was cruising but when Lisa came back at me I was in a bit of trouble.

“I was under big pressure from the crowd as well but I held it together and I’m very pleased to have come through.

“I’ve won a game now and that was a big aim for me. Barney will be heavy favourite but if I relax and play like I can, I fancy it – I want to be back here after Christmas.”

Up and coming Gawlas had earlier needed all 5 sets to see off former World Champion Richie Burnett. The Welshman was making a return to the Ally Pally stage after a decade long absence but couldn’t summon the firepower overcome the Czech star.

The Cazoo World Darts Championship is being broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK & Ireland, through the PDC’s worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and Viaplay, and on PDCTV (excluding UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria & Switzerland based subscribers).

Saturday December 17
Afternoon Session (1100 GMT)
3x First Round, 1x Second Round
Martin Lukeman 3-0 Nobuhiro Yamamoto (3-0, 3-1, 3-2) (R1)
Simon Whitlock 3-2 Christian Perez (3-0, 2-3, 3-2, 0-3, 3-1) (R1)
Adam Gawlas 3-2 Richie Burnett (3-0, 0-3, 1-3, 3-1, 3-1) (R1)
Alan Soutar 3-0 Daryl Gurney (3-2, 3-2, 3-2) (R2)

Evening Session (2000 GMT)
3x First Round, 1x Second Round
Ryan Meikle 3-2 Lisa Ashton (3-1, 3-2, 2-3, 2-3, 3-0) (R1)
Cameron Menzies 3-1 Diogo Portela (3-1, 1-3, 3-1, 3-1) (R1)
Josh Rock 3-1 Jose Justicia (3-1, 1-3, 3-1, 3-0) (R1)
Dimitri Van den Bergh 3-0 Lourence Ilagan (3-0, 3-2, 3-0) (R2)

Sunday December 18
Afternoon Session (1100 GMT)
3x First Round, 1x Second Round
Madars Razma v Prakash Jiwa (R1)
Karel Sedlacek v Raymond Smith (R1)
Luke Woodhouse v Vladyslav Omelchenko (R1)
Damon Heta v Adrian Lewis (R2)

Evening Session (2000 GMT)
3x First Round, 1x Second Round
Mike De Decker v Jeff Smith (R1)
Scott Williams v Ryan Joyce (R1)
Matt Campbell v Danny Baggish (R1)
Nathan Aspinall v Boris Krcmar (R2)


Images: Taylor Lanning / PDC

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