William Hill Grand Slam Day One
REIGNING champion Phil Taylor made a winning start to his bid for a fifth William Hill Grand Slam of Darts title on Saturday night, but two-time World Champion Ted Hankey was whitewashed by Robert Thornton as the £400,000 event began at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall.
Taylor defeated Dutch ace Co Stompe 5-2 in their opening Group A fixture to make a fine start to the round-robin stage of the tournament, averaging just over 100 in a confident performance.
"I'm really pleased with that and it's a good start for me," said Taylor, who now plays Mark Webster on Sunday evening. "I've had a really good preparation for this and it would mean a massive amount to me to keep the title.
"It was important to get a win because I know it will be hard again on Sunday night against Mark because he played really well today."
Welsh left-hander Webster enjoyed a confidence-boosting 5-3 win over 2010 Grand Slam of Darts champion Scott Waites in their opener at the Wolves Civic, taking an early 3-0 lead which proved crucial in the final outcome.
"It's a tough group so it's great to get off to a winning start," said Webster. "I slackened off a bit towards the end but that's to be expected because I've not been winning many games as of late.
"I closed it out for a change and I can build on that."
UK Open champion Robert Thornton made a brilliant start to Group B with a whitewash of Ted Hankey in their opening clash, as the two-time Lakeside Champion was punished for missed doubles in all five legs by the clinical Scot.
"It was one of those nights where my doubles just wouldn't go in," said Hankey. "That's been the story of my year, but tomorrow's another day and the great thing about this tournament is that I've got two more matches to put it right."
Thornton will now play Michael van Gerwen in Sunday's second fixtures, after the World Grand Prix winner defeated Steve Beaton 5-2 with a brilliant 103 average.
"It's an important start for me because it takes the pressure off," said van Gerwen. "I'm glad to win the first game and I played well, and I hope I can continue this and get another good result tomorrow night."
Simon Whitlock and Kevin Painter were the opening winners in Group C, with the latter being pushed all the way by Dean Winstanley before edging a 5-4 victory with a superb 14-darter in the decider.
"There was a lot of tension - I think we were both very nervous," admitted Painter. "I started well and it was a bit patchy after that, but I did what I needed to in the final leg."
European Champion Whitlock, meanwhile, was a 5-2 winner against World Youth Champion James Hubbard in their opener.
"James is an excellent player and I've practised with him recently so I know how well he's been playing, and I'm very pleased to get to the win," said Whitlock.
"It's important in the round-robin format to get that win under my belt, and it should be a great game with Kevin tomorrow."
Mervyn King and Arron Monk were the winners in the Group D openers, with King sweeping past Dutchman Jan Dekker 5-1 with a strong performance.
"To come away with a victory from your opening game is fantastic," said King. "It's always important to get the first win under your belt and I can build on this."
Former World Youth Champion Monk, meanwhile, defeated 2010 runner-up James Wade 5-1 in what he admitted was one of the biggest results of his fledgling career.
"To beat a player like James, who I believe is the second best in the world, in that manner on the big stage is a dream come true," said the 22-year-old. "I've been in good form recently and I went on stage with bags of confidence."
Groups E-H will play their opening matches on Sunday afternoon, including PDC World Champion Adrian Lewis up against Tony O'Shea and Lakeside Champion Christian Kist making his Grand Slam debut against Wolverhampton favourite Wayne Jones.
William Hill Grand Slam of Darts
Saturday November 10
Groups A-D First Games
Kevin Painter 5-4 Dean Winstanley (C)
Scott Waites 3-5 Mark Webster (A)
Jan Dekker 1-5 Mervyn King (D)
Robert Thornton 5-0 Ted Hankey (B)
Michael van Gerwen 5-2 Steve Beaton (B)
Phil Taylor 5-1 Co Stompe (A)
Simon Whitlock 5-2 James Hubbard (C)
James Wade 1-5 Arron Monk (D)
Kevin Painter v Dean Winstanley
1-0 - Painter starts the match confidently by winning the first leg in 14 darts, which included a maximum.
2-0 - Winstanley misses seven darts at doubles allows Painter in to hit double eight and break throw.
2-1 - Painter is off-target with two darts at double top for a 3-0 lead and Winstanley steps in with a 120 checkout.
3-1 - Painter hits double 18 to restore his two leg advantage after Winstanley misses a dart at bullseye to level the match.
3-2 - Winstanley keeps in the hunt by hitting a 180 and followed that by landing tops.
3-3 - Winstanley converts an 83 finish to leave the match finely balanced at three apiece.
4-3 - Painter misses five darts at doubles but Winstanley is unable to cash in as he is off-target with two darts at double top allowing Painter back in to edge the leg.
4-4 - Winstanley forces a deciding-leg as he lands a pressure 70 finish by hitting double top with his third dart.
5-4 - Painter fires in a timely 180 and goes on to secure to match with a fine 78 finish in two darts.
Kevin Painter: "There was a lot of tension out there. It's the first game of the tournament and I think we were both very nervous. I started well and then it was patchy from then on. The 180 in the last leg really helped me."
|Kevin Painter||5-4||Dean Winstanley|
|2||Breaks of Throw||2|
|5/15 - 33%||Finishing %||4/15 - 27%|
Scott Waites v Mark Webster
0-1 - Waites hits a 180 with his first three darts of the match but Webster wins the leg impressively in just 13 darts.
0-2 - Webster continues his excellent start to the match by taking the second leg with a 14-darter.
0-3 - The Welshman converts a superb 131 checkout to leave the 2010 Grand Slam champion with a mountain to climb.
1-3 - Waites hits his second 180 of the contest before landing double ten to get a leg on the board.
2-3 - The 2010 champion takes out 46 to reduce the gap to one leg.
2-4 - Webster hits an excellent 104 finish with Waites waiting on 67 after 12 darts thrown.
3-4 - Waites takes out a pressure 66 finish to keep the match alive with Webster waiting on a two-darter.
3-5 - Waites pays dearly for two missed darts at doubles as Webster lands double ten with his third dart to win the match.
Mark Webster: "I'm delighted with the win against Scott as I've been through a tough time recently. I haven't played like I can but I have good people around me and I hope to have a good week here."
|Scott Waites||3-5||Mark Webster|
|1||Breaks of Throw||2|
|3/7 - 43%||Finishing %||5/7 - 71%|
Jan Dekker v Mervyn King
0-1 - King breaks his opponent's throw at the first time of asking by landing double six.
1-1 - Two missed darts at double eight from King prove costly as Dekker takes out 72 to level the match.
1-2 - King hits the first 180 of the contest and lands double eight at the first time of asking to regain the lead.
1-3 - The World Grand Prix runner-up kick-off the leg with a 180 and hits double four to move two legs clear.
1-4 - King missed two darts at tops but was allowed to return to the oche to hit double ten after Dekker was off-target with a dart at bullseye.
1-5 - Dekker fires in a maximum but a missed dart at double 16 from the Dutchman allows King in to hit double eight and secure a comfortable win.
Mervyn King: "To come away with a victory from your opening game is fantastic. It's always important to get the first win under your belt and I can build on this."
|Jan Dekker||1-5||Mervyn King|
|1||Breaks of Throw||3|
|1/4 - 25%||Finishing %||5/18 - 28%|
Robert Thornton v Ted Hankey
1-0 - Hankey misses double 18 for a 116 finish and Thornton hits double ten with his third dart to claim the first leg.
2-0 - Thornton lands double 12 at the first attempt after Hankey was off-target with the bullseye for a 130 checkout.
3-0 - The UK Open champion takes out 76 to take command of the game after Hankey misses a dart at tops.
4-0 - Hankey's double troubles continue as three darts at double ten go begging allowing Thornton to convert a 76 finish for a second successive leg.
5-0 - Hankey is just off-target on double ten when attempting to convert a 140 checkout and Thornton steps up to hit double 15 and complete a whitewash victory.
|Robert Thornton||5-0||Ted Hankey|
|2||Breaks of Throw||-|
|5/9 - 56%||Finishing %||0/7 - 0%|
Michael van Gerwen v Steve Beaton
1-0 - van Gerwen secures a break of throw by hitting double 13 after Beaton missed two chances at double four.
2-0 - Beaton hits two 180s but it's not enough as van Gerwen lands double eight to move two legs clear.
2-1 - Beaton hits his third maximum in the space of two legs and hits double eight to reduce the deficit.
3-1 - van Gerwen continues the superb standard by firing in his second 180 of the game to leave double 18 which he hits at the first time of asking.
3-2 - Beaton keeps in the hunt by converting an 80 finish after van Gerwen was off-target on double seven for a 134 checkout.
4-2 - van Gerwen defies two 140s from Beaton by hitting double 12 to move a leg away from victory.
5-2 - The Dutch superstar completes a fine victory by hitting double top to end the match with a 103.42 average.
Michael van Gerwen: "It's an important start for me because it takes the pressure off. I'm glad to win the first game and I played well, and I hope I can continue this and get another good result tomorrow night."
|Michael van Gerwen||5-2||Steve Beaton|
|2||Breaks of Throw||0|
|5/11 - 45%||Finishing %||2/6 - 33%|
Phil Taylor v Co Stompe
1-0 - Taylor takes out a 71 finish to complete a 15-dart finish.
2-0 - The defending champion holds throw by hitting double 16 at the first attempt.
2-1 - Stompe takes out 67 to win his first leg of the contest.
3-1 - Taylor hits double 16 to record his second 15-darter of the match and restore his two leg advantage.
4-1 - Taylor lands double 15 to move one leg away from victory.
5-1 - Taylor hits the winning double to end the match with a three-dart average of 100.38.
Phil Taylor: "I'm pleased to make a good start to the tournament. Co is a tough player to play as you never quite know what your going to get. I've dedicated myself and practiced hard for this event. I'm defending champion and I want to do well."
|Phil Taylor||5-1||Co Stompe|
|2||Breaks of Throw||0|
|5/8 - 63%||Finishing %||1/2 - 50%|
Simon Whitlock v James Hubbard
1-0 - Both players show early nerves as numerous doubles are missed doubles. Whitlock lands double four to draw first blood.
1-1 - Hubbard takes the second leg with the aid of a maximum.
2-1 - Whitlock lands double top to regain the lead despite another 180 from his opponent.
3-1 - The Australian breaks Hubbard's throw to move two legs clear of the Norfolk youngster.
3-2 - Whitlock kicks-off the leg with a 180 but a missed dart at bullseye proves costly as Hubbard converts an excellent 93 finish.
4-2 - Whitlock hits his second 180 of the contest and follows with a clinical two-dart 66 finish to move a leg away from victory.
5-2 - Hubbard fires in his third maximum but Whitlock wins the match in style by hitting double four to record a 13-darter.
Simon Whitlock: "I'm very pleased to get the win tonight and it's very important in the round-robin format to get that win under my belt. James is excellent player and I have practised with him recently. He's a class act and will be a major factor in years to come."
|Simon Whitlock||5-2||James Hubbard|
|2||Breaks of Throw||1|
|5/13 - 38%||Finishing %||2/10 - 20%|
James Wade v Arron Monk
0-1 - Wade misses six darts at doubles and allows Monk to step in and hit double ten to take an early lead.
0-2 - Monk claims the second leg with an eyecatching 96 finish completed on single 20, double 18, double 20.
1-2 - Wade gains confidence by converting a 116 checkout to get his first leg on the board.
1-3 - Wade hits the first 180 of the match but Monk lands double five with his third dart to restore his two leg advantage.
1-4 - Monk fires in a maximum and hits double 16 to break Wade's throw for a second time.
1-5 - Monk misses five chances to win the match on double 16 but Wade is unable to capitalise and Monk returns to hit double eight and claim an excellent win.
Arron Monk: "To beat a player like James in that manner on the big stage is a dream come true. I've been in good form in recent weeks and I went up onto the stage with bags of confidence tonight."
|James Wade||1-5||Arron Monk|
|0||Breaks of Throw||2|
|1/11 - 9%||Finishing %||5/18 - 28%|