ADRIAN LEWIS survived a match dart from Ritchie Edhouse and had to recover from 5-3 down to set up a mouth-watering second round clash with World Champion Rob Cross as the European Darts Open began in Leverkusen on Friday.
Two-time World Champion Lewis was one of the 32 qualifiers for the year's first PDC European Tour event, but found himself in danger of an early exit after a third-leg break gave Edhouse the advantage in their first round tie.
Edhouse remained in control of the match and took a 5-3 lead before giving himself a chance for victory in leg ten - only for Lewis to survive and force a decider.
A 180 in the final leg helped Lewis to produce a 13-dart hold and confirm his place in the second round where World Champion Cross awaits on Saturday evening.
"I really struggled at the beginning of the match and he took advantage," admitted Lewis, who has dropped to 20th on the PDC Order of Merit over the past year.
"I thought to myself "I'm not going down like this" - I’ve dropped down the rankings but now it's time to prove myself."
James Wade was another big name to progress during on day one of the European Darts Open, after a 6-3 win over Steve Beaton in a clash between former European Tour winners.
The former Premier League champion averaged 97 and took out a finish of 116 during a very solid opening win.
"I'm really happy with the win," said Wade. "You have to earn to play on a Saturday and I hadn't done that until today.
"I'm enjoying playing, I'm excited to play and the rest of them need to look out. Playing in front of crowds like this, what more could you want?"
Friday's evening session also saw Finland’s Marko Kantele recover from 4-3 down to upset the odds and defeat Vincent van der Voort 6-4 in the opening match.
Despite averaging 90, six points less than his opponent, Kantele was able to punish the former Austrian Darts Open champion's misses at doubles and progress in to round two, where he will face Dave Chisnall.
"I hit the doubles almost perfectly," said Finland's Kantele, who hit six doubles from nine attempts. "I was a little lucky today but I like playing in the European Tour and I'm really happy."
Ron Meulenkamp got his European Darts Open campaign off and running with an impressive 6-3 win over World Youth Champion Dimitri Van den Bergh, to set up a second round clash with number five seed Daryl Gurney.
"It wasn’t my best but I'll take the win every time," said Meulenkamp. "It feels like a new beginning and I'm really glad I won this match."
Chris Dobey will face Kim Huybrechts in round two after a 6-1 win against Wayne Jones, having averaged almost 93 and taken out a 164 finish to round off a solid performance.
"I'm looking forward to playing Kim," said Dobey. "I've got a good record against him but that doesn’t mean anything - the man who plays well on the day will win."
Danny Noppert progressed to the second round with a 6-4 win over fellow Dutchman Jeffrey de Zwaan, and will now face Joe Cullen in the second round.
Number 16 seed Alan Norris will face Jermaine Wattimena in round two after the Dutchman overcame Jonny Clayton in a 6-2 win.
Wattimena hit his first four attempts at doubles to take control of the clash and went on to book his passage in to round two with a 90 average.
"I started well but the second half wasn’t as good," said Wattimena. "Alan is a good player, I beat him last time we played but we will see on Saturday."
Germany's Gabriel Clemens averaged almost 100 in his 6-1 win over Thomas Junghans, delighting the Ostermann Arena crowd with two maximums and hitting almost 50% of his attempts at doubles.
Luke Woodhouse opened the tournament with an impressive 6-2 win over Ryan Meikle.
A 94 average and three 180s was easily enough for Woodhouse to set up a second round meeting with world number two Peter Wright.
Richard North whitewashed Martin Atkins to set up a second round tie with Gerwyn Price and Cameron Menzies will face world number one Michael van Gerwen after a 6-2 victory over Mark Wilson on his European Tour debut.
Poland's Tytus Kanik impressed, beating Jan Dekker 6-3 as he moves through to face Simon Whitlock, while Jamie Hughes' debut on the European Tour was marked with a 6-4 win over home favourite Max Hopp.
Hopp had led 4-3 but some strong finishing from Hughes saw him take out 96, 126 and 131 as he claimed three successive legs to set up a second round tie with Mensur Suljovic.
Darren Johnson produced the day's highest average of 103.22 in a 6-2 victory over Luke Humphries, who averaged 99.55 but was unable to match his rival's three 180s and 50% finishing ratio.
Former Austrian Darts Open winner Justin Pipe was a 6-2 winner over Michael Rasztovits as he moves through to meet Ian White, a Players Championship winner last weekend.
Scottish ace John Henderson, a former European Tour finalist, now faces Kyle Anderson after claiming a 6-2 win over Maik Langendorf.
The 16 seeded players enter the £135,000 tournament in Saturday's second round at the Ostermann Arena in Leverkusen, Germany, with play across two sessions.
PDCTV-HD Subscribers worldwide can watch the European Darts Open through THIS LINK.
See the tournament draw bracket and full schedule of play at THIS LINK.
2018 European Darts Open
Friday March 23
Luke Woodhouse 6-2 Ryan Meikle
Martin Atkins 0-6 Richard North
Mark Wilson 2-6 Cameron Menzies
Jan Dekker 3-6 Tytus Kanik
Jamie Hughes 6-4 Max Hopp
Darren Johnson 6-2 Luke Humphries
Justin Pipe 6-2 Michael Rasztovits
John Henderson 6-2 Maik Langendorf
Marko Kantele 6-4 Vincent van der Voort
Ron Meulenkamp 6-3 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Wayne Jones 1-6 Chris Dobey
Danny Noppert 6-4 Jeffrey de Zwaan
Jonny Clayton 2-6 Jermaine Wattimena
Thomas Junghans 1-6 Gabriel Clemens
Adrian Lewis 6-5 Ritchie Edhouse
James Wade 6-3 Steve Beaton
Saturday March 24
Afternoon Session (1pm local time, 12pm GMT)
Ian White v Justin Pipe
Gerwyn Price v Richard North
Kyle Anderson v John Henderson
Dave Chisnall v Marko Kantele
Alan Norris v Jermaine Wattimena
Kim Huybrechts v Chris Dobey
Joe Cullen v Danny Noppert
Mervyn King v Gabriel Clemens
Evening Session (7.15pm local time, 6.15pm GMT)
Simon Whitlock v Tytus Kanik
Daryl Gurney v Ron Meulenkamp
Michael van Gerwen v Cameron Menzies
Peter Wright v Luke Woodhouse
Rob Cross v Adrian Lewis
Jelle Klaasen v James Wade
Mensur Suljovic v Jamie Hughes
Michael Smith v Darren Johnson
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