Luke Nukes The Heat

Red Dragon Darts


Luke Littler produced a blistering burst to storm through to the last 16 of the Austrian Darts Open on Saturday, as Jonny Clayton made a superb start to his title defence in Graz.

Day Two of the £175,000 event saw 16 second round ties take place on a marathon day of action at the Steiermarkhalle, and it was Littler who stole the show with a 6-2 demolition of Damon Heta.

There was nothing to separate the pair following a subdued start, but Littler found his range in some style, reeling off four straight legs in 11, 11, 12 and 12 darts to triumph with a 106 average.

“In the first few legs me and Damon weren’t at our best, but I managed to switch on,” reflected Littler, a winner at the Belgian Darts Open in March.

“I’m really happy with the way I played in those last four legs. When you find it, you just find it, and hopefully I can play like that tomorrow.”

Saturday’s second round also saw Michael van Gerwen begin his bid for a record-extending fifth Austrian Darts Open crown with a 6-1 demolition of Jeffrey de Zwaan, aided by a 102 average and five maximums.

Van Gerwen will renew his rivalry with two-time World Champion Peter Wright in the third round, after the Scot fended off a late rally from American ace Danny Lauby to return to winning ways.

Ross Smith – a runner-up at last weekend’s European Darts Grand Prix – also impressed in Graz, averaging 106 and landing seven 180s to win through a classic against Raymond van Barneveld.

Five-time World Champion Van Barneveld averaged 104 in defeat, but paid the price for missing a match dart in the penultimate leg, as Smith produced successive 11 and 12-darters to triumph from 5-4 adrift.

Last year’s runner-up Josh Rock also hit back from 5-4 down to dump out UK Open champion Dimitri Van den Bergh, surviving three match darts in a dramatic finale to prevail with a 102 average.

Rock will now play Danny Noppert in Sunday afternoon’s third round, after the Dutchman averaged 104 and landed five 180s to advance against his compatriot Wessel Nijman.

Reigning champion Clayton progressed to Finals Day with a 6-1 thrashing of Chris Dobey, firing in back-to-back 11-darters in the latter stages to breeze past the Bedlington star.

Clayton’s next assignment is a tie against Martin Schindler, who whitewashed his fellow German Ricardo Pietreczko to maintain his magnificent form, having averaged 111 in his win over James Wade on Friday.

Earlier in the day, Stephen Bunting served up a treat at the Steiermarkhalle, converting a trio of ton-plus finishes – including a brace of 170 checkouts – to edge out Richard Veenstra in a last-leg thriller.

Gian van Veen also prevailed in a captivating decider against Ryan Searle, producing a nerveless 64 finish to seal his progress, in a contest which saw all 11 legs go with throw.

Van Veen’s reward is a last 16 showdown against Ritchie Edhouse, who averaged 103 to defeat Dirk van Duijvenbode for a second week in succession, extending the Dutchman’s winless run on the European Tour.

Daryl Gurney continued his resurgence with an impressive win against fourth seed Rob Cross, recording a ton-topping average and hitting six of his nine attempts at double to cap off a clinical display.

Top seed Dave Chisnall defied a mid-game rally from Brendan Dolan to set up a meeting with Joe Cullen, who averaged 102 and landed a 170 finish to see off a spirited Darius Labanauskas.

Krzysztof Ratajski will take on Littler for a place in the quarter-finals, after securing his first European Tour victory of 2024 with a convincing 6-2 win against debutant Dom Taylor.

Meanwhile, Daniel Klose – a replacement for the injured Gerwyn Price – capitalised on his late call-up to reach round three, defeating former UK Open champion Andrew Gilding by the same scoreline.

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

The tournament is being broadcast live on Viaplay, DAZN and PDCTV (excluding Germany, Austria and Switzerland) and through bookmakers’ websites worldwide. Austrian Darts Open

Saturday April 27
Second Round
Afternoon Session
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-2 Dom Taylor
Danny Noppert 6-3 Wessel Nijman
Ritchie Edhouse 6-2 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Stephen Bunting 6-5 Richard Veenstra
Gian van Veen 6-5 Ryan Searle
Joe Cullen 6-3 Darius Labanauskas
Daryl Gurney 6-4 Rob Cross
Dave Chisnall 6-4 Brendan Dolan

Evening Session
Martin Schindler 6-0 Ricardo Pietreczko
Daniel Klose 6-2 Andrew Gilding
Ross Smith 6-5 Raymond van Barneveld
Josh Rock 6-5 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Jeffrey de Zwaan
Peter Wright 6-5 Danny Lauby
Jonny Clayton 6-1 Chris Dobey
Luke Littler 6-2 Damon Heta

Sunday April 28
Afternoon Session (1300 local time, 1200 BST)
Third Round
Dave Chisnall v Joe Cullen
Ritchie Edhouse v Gian van Veen
Daryl Gurney v Stephen Bunting
Jonny Clayton v Martin Schindler
Luke Littler v Krzysztof Ratajski
Josh Rock v Danny Noppert
Daniel Klose v Ross Smith
Michael van Gerwen v Peter Wright

Evening Session (1900 local time, 1800 BST)
Chisnall/Cullen v Edhouse/Van Veen
Gurney/Bunting v Clayton/Schindler
Littler/Ratajski v Rock/Noppert
Klose/R Smith v Van Gerwen/Wright

Chisnall/Cullen/Edhouse/Van Veen v Gurney/Bunting/Clayton/Schindler
Littler/Ratajski/Rock/Noppert v Klose/R Smith/Van Gerwen/Wright



Images: : Jan Edegger/PDC Europe

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