Ratajski Wows Warsaw

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Krzysztof Ratajski thrilled his home crowd in Warsaw with victory over Rob Cross as the inaugural Superbet Poland Darts Masters began on Friday.

The PDC’s first World Series of Darts event in Poland opened as a sell-out crowd at COS Torwar cheered local hero Ratajski to victory against the world number five.

The Polish number one broke in the opening leg and led 2-0 before reeling off three straight legs as he moved 5-1 up.

Former World Champion Cross showed his battling qualities as he finished 73 and a 14-darter to keep his hopes alive, but Ratajski fired in a 13-dart leg to seal a famous win.

“It’s incredible – almost a dream,” said Ratajski.

“It’s something new for me, Polish fans sang my name and it was different than any other event.

“It’s a big night for Poland. I couldn’t believe it [when the event was announced I didn’t expect so many fans here and tickets sold in a few hours.

“Of course I’m very happy with this win but it wasn’t a perfect game. Rob didn’t play his game but I won and I’m really glad.

“I know it’s a very big step now and it’s a long way for me to go to win this tournament, so for tomorrow I will focus on my game and I’m almost sure my game will be better than today.

Ratajski now plays Dimitri Van den Bergh, who averaged 105.31 in a superb 6-4 comeback win over Czech star Karel Sedlacek.Sedlacek led 3-0 after making a strong start, which included a 104 finish for a break of throw, to leave the Belgian reeling.

Van den Bergh, a World Series winner in Copenhagen and Amsterdam last year, finished 110 as he levelled in leg six and also posted an 11-darter as he reeled off six of the next seven legs.

Elsewhere, Gerwyn Price missed double 12 for a nine-dart finish in the opening leg of his 6-3 win over Polish qualifier Lukasz Waclawski. The Welshman began his first round tie with two 180s, before landing treble 19 and treble 20, only to pull his dart at double 12 inside the wire.

He took that leg in 11 darts but Waclawski – on his TV debut – held the former World Champion for four legs before Price took three in a row before eventually closing out the win.

Price’s quarter-finals opponent will be Nathan Aspinall, who averaged 105.87 and impressed with six doubles from 11 attempts in his 6-2 defeat of Croatia’s Boris Krcmar, who also averaged over 100 in a high-quality contest.

The pair shared the opening four legs, with Krcmar responding to an 11-darter with a 121 checkout for a 12-dart leg. Aspinall, though, pulled clear as finishes of 76 and 82 – for another 11-darter – were followed by successive 14-dart legs as he sealed victory.

Michael van Gerwen overcame a scare against Adam Gawlas before coming from two legs behind to defeat the emerging Czech star 6-3. Van Gerwen opened with a 180 and took the opening leg with a 13-darter, only for Gawlas to break throw twice as he took a 3-1 lead Van Gerwen’s power scoring helped him to take the next three as he edged in front, and Gawlas’ miss at double 16 to level in leg eight proved crucial.

The Dutchman stepped in on double three to move 5-3 up before closing out the win to open his bid for back-to-back World Series titles in style.

Hungarian qualifier Nándor Major suffered a whitewash defeat to Luke Humphries as the world number six bids to follow last week’s European Tour win with a first World Series title.

Humphries now plays Van Gerwen in the quarter-finals, while the other tie sees World Champion Michael Smith take on Danny Noppert.

Both Smith and Noppert enjoyed victories over Polish Tour Card Holders, seeing off Krzysztof Kciuk and Radek Szaganski respectively.

Smith raced past World Cup representative Kciuk, claiming the opening four legs without reply to take command – landing two double 18s in the fourth – before closing out victory for the loss of just one leg.

Noppert finished 110 as he opened up a 3-0 lead in his tie with Szaganski, who took out 100 as he pulled back to within a leg before another three-leg burst from the Dutchman saw him progress by a 6-2 margin.

The Superbet Poland Darts Masters concludes with the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final in a bumper session on Saturday evening.

The tournament will be broadcast live on Viaplay in Poland and through the broadcaster’s other territories, including the Netherlands and Nordic & Baltic region.

Further global coverage will include DAZN and PDCTV (excluding subscribers based in Germany, Austria & Switzerland).

Coverage on ITV4 in the UK will be from 2100 BST on Saturday.

2023 Superbet Poland Darts Masters:

Friday July 7

First Round

Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-4 Karel Sedlacek

Danny Noppert 6-2 Radek Szaganski

Luke Humphries 6-0 Nándor Major

Nathan Aspinall 6-2 Boris Krcmar

Gerwyn Price 6-3 Lukasz Waclawski

Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Adam Gawlas

Krzysztof Ratajski 6-3 Rob Cross

Michael Smith 6-1 Krzysztof Kciuk

Saturday July 8 (1900 CEST, 1800 BST)

Quarter-Finals

Gerwyn Price v Nathan Aspinall

Krzysztof Ratajski v Dimitri Van den Bergh

Michael Smith v Danny Noppert

Michael van Gerwen v Luke Humphries

Best of 11 legs

Semi-Finals

Price/Aspinall v Ratajski/Van den Bergh

Smith/Noppert v Van Gerwen/Humphries

Best of 13 legs

Final

v

Best of 15 legs

—–ENDS—–

Simon O’Connor/PDC

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