GERWYN PRICE, Rob Cross and Michael Smith were among the players to make it through to the quarter-finals on the second day of the 2019 Ladbrokes UK Open at Butlin's Minehead Resort on Saturday.
Following on from a dramatic opening day which saw former champions Michael van Gerwen, Gary Anderson and Peter Wright crash out of the tournament, rounds five and six took place across two sessions on another bumper day of darts.
Just eight players remain from the initial 159-player field, with in-form Price the standout performer in his victories over Jamie Hughes and Krzysztof Ratajski on day two of the unique multi-board event.
2017 runner-up Price continued his sensational form with a 104.57 average in his 10-3 demolition of Ratajski to follow up an earlier 10-7 success over Jamie Hughes.
Ratajski dumped Price out of the Players Championship Finals on the Main Stage at Minehead in November, but the Polish number one’s hopes of a repeat performance were dampened as the Welshman struck finishes of 145 and 117 in racing into a 5-0 lead.
From there, Price made it three ton-plus finishes for the match with a 144 combination as he relentlessly powered his way to the finish line to extend his unbeaten run in all PDC competitions to a stunning 19 matches.
"I'm in a great run of form, I'm playing really well and if my scoring game is there on Sunday then I can go all the way," said Grand Slam of Darts champion Price, now the 9/4 joint favourite for the title with sponsors Ladbrokes.
"Even before the top boys went out I believed I could win. I'm full of confidence and playing some of the best darts of my life at the moment.
"I didn't think I played well yesterday but I thought I played really well in my game with Krzysztof and hopefully I can play like that again tomorrow and win it."
Price will face world number 68 Simon Stevenson in Sunday afternoon's quarter-finals, with Stevenson the lowest ranked player in the last eight after coming back from 8-4 down to overcome Dave Chisnall 10-9 in a thriller.
A confident Chisnall appeared to be cruising to a first UK Open quarter-final berth since 2012, only for Stevenson to show incredible determination in an unlikely fightback.
Buoyed by local support, Devon man Stevenson fired in three consecutive ton-plus checkouts of 150, 104 and 128 to level it up at 8-8 and set up a grandstand finish.
The pair exchanged holds of throw to take the game to a deciding leg, and it was Stevenson who came on strong in the decider, sealing a memorable win with an 82 finish.
“It’s incredible to be in the quarters, I thought I was dead and buried but I hung in there and took my opportunities when they came,” said Stevenson, who dumped out Belgian number one Kim Huybrechts in the afternoon session to follow up Friday's win over Raymond van Barneveld.
“I was just trying to stay as calm as I possibly could but to win that one is truly unbelievable.
“The crowd really pushed me on, it’s been a fantastic atmosphere all weekend and I’m looking forward to tomorrow so much – who knows how far I can go.”
Ross Smith ensured that there will be a new name on the UK Open trophy by defeating two-time champion James Wade 10-7.
With Smith leading 4-3, the world number 66 accelerated away from Wade to go 8-4 up thanks to clinical double-hitting in a classy display.
2008 and 2011 winner Wade fought his way back within a leg to trail 8-7, landing a magnificent 127 finish on the bullseye to break throw on the way.
However, Smith held his nerve and fired in legs of 13 and 14 darts to book his place in the last eight of a televised PDC quarter-final for the first time.
“I had to be mentally strong to come through that game and now I see no reason why I can’t put my name on the trophy on Sunday night,” said Smith, who earlier defeated Steve West 10-5 in the fifth round.
“I’m not here just to make up the numbers, I’m here to achieve something. The consistency is there, I’m feeling good and I just need a few more lucky breaks.
“I’ve got my love for the game back and now I’m enjoying it more than ever. My mindset is completely changed from a couple of years ago and I’m loving being up on the big stage.”
Smith will now come up against Nathan Aspinall, who found himself 7-3 down to Steve Lennon, but turned the game on its head to secure a 10-8 victory and secure his second televised quarter-final appearance.
Irish favourite Lennon missed a dart to go 8-3 up and soon relinquished his control of the tie to World Championship semi-finalist Aspinall.
Aspinall, who defeated Latvia’s Madars Razma 10-2 earlier in the day, won seven of the last eight legs to come out on top of the battle between the two Premier League Contenders.
Steve Beaton made it through to the UK Open quarter-finals for the first time since 2004 thanks to victories over Keegan Brown and Dimitri Van den Bergh.
Beaton knocked out reigning champion Gary Anderson in Friday evening’s fourth round and the 55-year-old followed it up with a 10-8 triumph over Brown.
The only UK Open ever-present left in the tournament, Beaton opened and finished his tie with two-time World Youth Champion Van den Bergh with 102 finishes on his way to a hard-fought 10-8 win.
Beaton will now play Michael Smith, who battled through the pain of a groin injury once again to edge out Daryl Gurney 10-9, before dispatching Jermaine Wattimena 10-3 in less than 20 minutes.
World Championship and Premier League runner-up Smith landed finishes of 156 and 112 on his way to a 6-0 lead, with Wattimena powerless to stop the St Helens man.
The last Dutch player left in the competition, Wattimena managed to avoid the whitewash but Smith powered through to his first UK Open quarter-final and continue his quest for a first televised ranking title, leaving himself the 9/4 joint favourite with Price.
Former World Champion Cross kept himself in the hunt for the £100,000 top prize with comfortable wins over Van Gerwen's conqueror Mervyn King and Spanish number one Cristo Reyes.
Cross' quarter-finals assignment will see him take on Josh Payne, who battled his way to impressive triumphs over Jamie Lewis and Simon Whitlock to reach his first televised quarter-final.
Sunday's final day of the festival of darts will be broadcast live on ITV4 for UK viewers, worldwide through the PDC's international broadcast partners and through video.pdc.tv for Rest of the World subscribers.
At the conclusion of the quarter-finals, an open draw will be made live on the Main Stage for the semi-finals.
Saturday March 2
James Wade 10-7 Max Hopp
Michael Smith 10-9 Daryl Gurney
Dimitri Van den Bergh 10-9 Mensur Suljovic
Rob Cross 10-5 Mervyn King
Nathan Aspinall 10-2 Madars Razma
Simon Whitlock 10-8 Gabriel Clemens
Josh Payne 10-7 Jamie Lewis
Gerwyn Price 10-7 Jamie Hughes
Steve Beaton 10-8 Keegan Brown
Krzysztof Ratajski 10-7 Jonny Clayton
Simon Stevenson 10-6 Kim Huybrechts
Jermaine Wattimena 10-8 Luke Woodhouse
Steve Lennon 10-8 Mickey Mansell
Dave Chisnall 10-5 Martin Schindler
Ross Smith 10-5 Steve West
Cristo Reyes 10-7 Richard North
Ross Smith 10-7 James Wade
Gerwyn Price 10-3 Krzysztof Ratajski
Michael Smith 10-3 Jermaine Wattimena
Rob Cross 10-6 Cristo Reyes
Nathan Aspinall 10-8 Steve Lennon
Simon Stevenson 10-9 Dave Chisnall
Steve Beaton 10-8 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Josh Payne 10-7 Simon Whitlock
Sunday March 3
Rob Cross v Josh Payne
Michael Smith v Steve Beaton
Simon Stevenson v Gerwyn Price
Nathan Aspinall v Ross Smith
Semi-Finals & Final
First, Second & Third Rounds - Best of 11 legs
Fourth, Fifth & Sixth Rounds & Quarter-Finals - Best of 19 legs
Semi-Finals & Final - Best of 21 legs
Main Stage - Skyline Pavilion
Stage Two - Red's
Stages Three and Four - Centre Stage
Winner - £100,000
Runner-Up - £40,000
Semi-Finalists - £20,000
Quarter-Finalists - £12,500
Sixth Round Losers - £7,500
Fifth Round Losers - £4,000
Fourth Round Losers - £2,000
Third Round Losers - £1,000
Total - £450,000
9/4 Gerwyn Price, Michael Smith
13/5 Rob Cross
13/2 Nathan Aspinall
14/1 Ross Smith
18/1 Josh Payne
20/1 Steve Beaton
28/1 Simon Stevenson
Quarter-Final Match Odds
3/10 Rob Cross
5/2 Josh Payne
1/4 Michael Smith
3/1 Steve Beaton
3/1 Simon Stevenson
1/4 Gerwyn Price
4/7 Nathan Aspinall
11/8 Ross Smith
Odds correct at time of writing, courtesy of www.ladbrokes.com. Subject to fluctuation.