Schindler Stars in Graz

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Martin Schindler produced an imperious display to take centre stage on the opening day of the Austrian Darts Open on Friday, as Luke Littler also celebrated victory in Graz.

Schindler – a winner at the International Darts Open a fortnight ago – produced the performance of Friday’s first round at the Steiermarkhalle, averaging 111.37 to deny James Wade in a captivating contest.

The 27-year-old crashed in six 180s and pinned six of his ten attempts at double, registering winning legs of 13, 18, 11, 14, 13 and 13 darts to record the highest ever European Tour average by a German player.

Wade averaged 99.76 and hit all four of his attempts at double, but he was worn down by a relentless Schindler, who will take on Ricardo Pietreczko in an all-German affair tomorrow night.

Chris Dobey also impressed on Day One in Austria, booking a clash against reigning champion Jonny Clayton after averaging 106 to wrap up a 6-2 demolition of Graham Hall.

Teenage sensation Littler will renew his rivalry with second seed Damon Heta on Saturday evening, after putting in a professional performance to see off the returning Zoran Lerchbacher in his opener.

Dutch icon Raymond van Barneveld will play European Darts Grand Prix runner-up Ross Smith in the second round, after conjuring up crucial 136 and 96 finishes in the latter stages of his deciding-leg win over Mike De Decker.

UK Open champion Dimitri Van den Bergh also prevailed in a last-leg shoot-out, landing an inspired 152 checkout to stun Gabriel Clemens and reach round two, where last year’s runner-up Josh Rock awaits.

Gian van Veen thrashed a struggling Jose de Sousa to extend the Portuguese star’s winless run on the big stage, and the young Dutchman will now face Ryan Searle for a place in the last 16.

Northern Irish duo Brendan Dolan and Daryl Gurney also sealed their spot in Saturday’s second round, closing out hard-fought 6-3 wins against Hannes Schnier and Martin Lukeman in their openers.

Richard Veenstra produced a trio of ton-plus checkouts to deny Ricky Evans in a rollercoaster contest, following up 141 and 151 checkouts with a 104 kill in the decider, after Evans had spurned three darts for victory.

Wessel Nijman posted six 180s to edge out Croatia’s Romeo Grbavac on his European Tour return, while Nijman’s compatriot Jeffrey de Zwaan averaged 99 to account for Karel Sedlacek.

Earlier in the afternoon, Danny Lauby and Dom Taylor tasted victory on their European Tour debuts, overcoming Ryan Joyce and Christian Goedl respectively.

American star Lauby converted 100, 105 and 121 finishes to create a tussle against two-time World Champion Peter Wright, with Taylor posting a ton-plus average to whitewash Host Nation Qualifier Goedl.

Darius Labanauskas ran out a 6-4 winner against his Nordic & Baltic counterpart Madars Razma, while Ritchie Edhouse defeated Arron Monk by the same scoreline to continue his eye-catching form.

Elsewhere, Andrew Gilding snapped his losing streak with a 6-2 victory against Dominik Haberl, and he will now play Germany’s Daniel Klose, who replaces the injured Gerwyn Price in the tournament.

The Austrian Darts Open continues on Saturday, as the second round takes place across two sessions at the Steiermarkhalle.

Littler and Heta’s showdown will headline a bumper day of action, with Clayton and three-time winner Michael van Gerwen amongst the other seeded stars poised to enter the fray.

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

2024 Austrian Darts Open

Friday April 2

First Round
Afternoon Session
Wessel Nijman 6-5 Romeo Grbavac
Jeffrey de Zwaan 6-3 Karel Sedlacek
Danny Lauby 6-4 Ryan Joyce
Brendan Dolan 6-3 Hannes Schnier
Richard Veenstra 6-5 Ricky Evans
Darius Labanauskas 6-4 Madars Razma
Ritchie Edhouse 6-4 Arron Monk
Dom Taylor 6-0 Christian Goedl

Evening Session
Daryl Gurney 6-3 Martin Lukeman
Andrew Gilding 6-2 Dominik Haberl
Jose de Sousa 6-1 Gian van Veen
Chris Dobey 6-2 Graham Hall
Martin Schindler 6-4 James Wade
Raymond van Barneveld 6-5 Mike De Decker
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-5 Gabriel Clemens
Luke Littler 6-2 Zoran Lerchbacher

Saturday April 27
Second Round
Afternoon Session (1300 local time, 1200 BST)
Krzysztof Ratajski v Dom Taylor
Danny Noppert v Wessel Nijman
Dirk van Duijvenbode v Ritchie Edhouse
Stephen Bunting v Richard Veenstra
Ryan Searle v Gian van Veen
Joe Cullen v Darius Labanauskas
Rob Cross v Daryl Gurney
Dave Chisnall v Brendan Dolan

Evening Session (1900 local time, 1800 BST)
Ricardo Pietreczko v Martin Schindler
Daniel Klose v Andrew Gilding
Ross Smith v Raymond van Barneveld
Josh Rock v Dimitri Van den Bergh
Michael van Gerwen v Jeffrey de Zwaan
Peter Wright v Danny Lauby
Jonny Clayton v Chris Dobey
Damon Heta v Luke Littler


Images: Jan Edegger/PDC Europe

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