Luke’s Wonderful in Wieze

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HUMPHRIES SHINES IN WIEZE, AS WRIGHT EDGES OUT VAN GERWEN

World number one Luke Humphries produced a mesmerising performance to reach the third round of the Blåkläder Belgian Darts Open on Saturday, as Peter Wright edged out reigning champion Michael van Gerwen in Wieze.

Day Two of the year’s opening European Tour event saw 16 second round matches take place across two sessions, with Van Gerwen one of seven seeded casualties at the Oktoberhallen.

The Dutchman has been struggling with a shoulder injury over recent weeks, and his woes were compounded by his old adversary Wright, who capitalised on his opponent’s profligacy to book his place in Sunday’s last 16.

“I nearly threw it away, but I got through,” reflected a relieved Wright, who pinned six of his 12 attempts at double to set up a third round contest against Jonny Clayton.

“Normally you have to produce a ton-plus average to beat Michael, but I know he’s struggling with his shoulder injury.

“Hopefully he gets better soon and starts playing the darts we know he can, and hopefully I do the same!”

However, it was Humphries who produced the performance of the day, averaging 110.65 in a devastating 6-1 demolition of James Wade.

The World Champion reeled off legs of 10, 16, 13, 14, 12 and 11 darts to continue his blistering form, fresh from his maiden nightly victory in the Premier League on Thursday.

“I love the European Tour. It’s made me the player I am today,” insisted Humphries, a UK Open runner-up last weekend.

“I didn’t have the best start to the season, but now I’m starting to feel like the world number one again, and I felt really good up there tonight.

“Everyone knows what I’m capable of and what I can produce, and now I believe I’m doing it on a more consistent basis.”

Elsewhere, Luke Littler continued his impressive debut campaign on the European Tour, following up his deciding-leg victory over Jose de Sousa with a 6-3 success against Poland’s number one Krzysztof Ratajski.

Belgian Darts Open 2024

The 17-year-old sensation crashed in six 180s on his way to victory, which sets up another clash against fourth seed Damon Heta, who demolished Brendan Dolan 6-1 in Saturday’s afternoon session.

Mike De Decker preserved Belgian hopes in Wieze, dispatching an out-of-sorts Michael Smith with a clinical 6-2 victory to set up a showdown against Masters champion Stephen Bunting.

Bunting extended his winning streak in last-leg deciders on the European Tour to 12 matches with a dramatic win over sixth seed Josh Rock, converting an 81 finish on the bull to confirm his progress.

Top seed Dave Chisnall also crashed out in his opener, squandering a match dart in the deciding-leg of his tie against Ryan Joyce.

Gerwyn Price and Gary Anderson will renew their rivalry for a place in the quarter-finals tomorrow afternoon, courtesy of wins over Gabriel Clemens and Andreas Harrysson respectively.

Price averaged 101 to see off German number one Clemens, while Anderson won through an enthralling encounter against Harrysson, averaging 103 and landing eight 180s in a contest featuring four ton-plus checkouts.

Joe Cullen registered another ton-topping average to book his place in Sunday’s final stages, wrapping up a 6-3 success against Dirk van Duijvenbode with a 104 average and a spectacular 170 checkout.

Clayton also produced the maximum finish in his battling win over Berry van Peer, averaging 98 and pinning 60% of his attempts at double to return to winning ways on the big stage.

Danny Noppert survived six match darts to overturn a 5-3 deficit against Chris Dobey, and his reward is a third round meeting with Rob Cross, who hit back from 3-0 down to deny Germany’s Lukas Wenig in a decider.

Ryan Searle and Ricardo Pietreczko also won through last-leg tussles against Richard Veenstra and Luke Woodhouse earlier in the day, to set up meetings against Humphries and Joyce respectively.

Meanwhile, Jermaine Wattimena celebrated his 36th birthday by advancing to Finals Day on the European Tour for the first time in five years, following up Friday’s whitewash of Daryl Gurney with a 6-2 thumping of Ross Smith.

The third round will take place on Sunday afternoon, before the tournament concludes with the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final in a bumper evening session at the Oktoberhallen.

2024 Blåkläder Belgian Darts Open

Saturday March 9
Second Round
Afternoon Session
Ricardo Pietreczko 6-5 Luke Woodhouse
Jermaine Wattimena 6-2 Ross Smith
Jonny Clayton 6-4 Berry van Peer
Damon Heta 6-1 Brendan Dolan
Ryan Searle 6-5 Richard Veenstra
Danny Noppert 6-5 Chris Dobey
Gary Anderson 6-5 Andreas Harrysson
Joe Cullen 6-3 Dirk van Duijvenbode

Evening Session
Ryan Joyce 6-5 Dave Chisnall
Mike De Decker 6-2 Michael Smith
Gerwyn Price 6-4,Gabriel Clemens
Peter Wright 6-4 Michael van Gerwen
Luke Littler 6-3 Krzysztof Ratajski
Luke Humphries 6-1 James Wade
Stephen Bunting 6-5 Josh Rock
Rob Cross 6-5 Lukas Wenig

Sunday March 10
Third Round
Afternoon Session (1300 local time, 1200 GMT)
Ryan Joyce v Ricardo Pietreczko
Peter Wright v Jonny Clayton
Damon Heta v Luke Littler
Joe Cullen v Jermaine Wattimena
Luke Humphries v Ryan Searle
Rob Cross v Danny Noppert
Gerwyn Price v Gary Anderson
Stephen Bunting v Mike De Decker

Evening Session (1900 local time, 1800 GMT)
Quarter-Finals
Semi-Finals
Final

—–ENDS—–

Images: Jonas Hunold/PDC Europe

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