The Asp Leaves Polish Eagle Stung

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The Asp’ Nathan Aspinall progressed into the last 16 of the Betfred World Matchplay this evening with a 10-7 victory over 2021’s semi-finalist Krzysztof Ratajski.

Aspinall has one of the most riveting walk-on tunes on the circuit, and it got the crowd pumping from the first minute.

The atmosphere certainly helped him get through a tight opening leg and a hold of throw followed in the second leg.

Ratajski was in serious bother from an early point, having missed all 9 attempts at double inside the first three legs. The Asp was quick to capitalise.
4-nil would not have been an impenetrable gulf, but an 11-dart leg certainly helped to steady the nerves for Nathan.

The Pole is not one to give too much away on stage, but as a 127 out came off in the final leg of the mini-session, the relief was visible.

Affairs were now far more finely poised, but Aspinall gained the crucial edge in the 6th leg with a 15 darter.

Ratajski resisted some heavy, pressure-inducing scoring in the following leg to reduce the deficit to a leg.

Another break of throw arrived for the Asp, still asserting his distance from a checkout-rusty Krzysztof.

The gap could have widened had 120 came off for Nathan, but instead the Polish Eagle closed out a double 16.

32 would similarly reward Aspinall to take him to 6-4 on the break. Leg 11 saw Ratajski command a comfortable lead, before a stunning 12 darter capped off with a 151 sent Aspinall 3 legs ahead.

A match of contrasts, the next leg provided another, as Krzysztof wrapped up in 18 darts to a sullen Aspinall. Had his doubles been more clinical, this could have been a very different game.

He had soon cut Nathan’s lead to a leg. Opportunities came and went in the subsequent game for Ratajski, Aspinall pinning the northernmost section of the double 8 for 8-6.

14 darts would be suffice in the next leg to take the Asp a leg away, but leg 16 drew the pair closer, Ratajski taking out 68.

The next leg was not going to see similar repeats, a 41 enough for Aspinall to win the match and head into the second round.

“I didn’t think it was in!” Aspinall said of his 151 out, a crucial point in the match.

“It was one of those which sort of stood up in the board and sometimes they can dip low, and that’s why I exploded when I heard game shot.”

“It was a fantastic game of darts and one I am happy to get through.”

He will face Danny Noppert on Tuesday evening.


images: Taylor Lanning / PDC

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