MICHAEL VAN GERWEN overcame a scare against Brendan Dolan as he opened his challenge for a fifth European Tour win of 2019 with a narrow 6-5 victory in Sindelfingen on Saturday.
World Champion Van Gerwen has been in stunning form on the European Tour circuit this year, including wins over the past three weeks in Munich, Saarbruecken and Graz.
His bid for success in the European Darts Grand Prix was almost derailed in his opening tie as qualifier Dolan - who defeated Michael Rosenauer on Friday - pushed him all the way.
Dolan had taken victory when the pair met in the Danish Darts Open in 2018, and led 1-0, 3-2, 4-3 and 5-4 during a tight battle.
However, Van Gerwen followed up a 132 bull checkout from leg three with a crucial 94 combination in leg ten before taking victory with a 14-darter - extending his winning record in deciding legs on the European Tour to 26 in the process.
"I'm really glad I won but I had to work really hard for this," said Van Gerwen. "I didn't feel confident - you could see it on my doubles - but tomorrow's a different day."
Van Gerwen's opponent in the third round will be James Richardson, who enjoyed a 6-3 win over Mervyn King as he came from 3-2 down with four straight legs.
World number two Rob Cross paid the price for ten missed darts at doubles as he lost out 6-3 to Jeffrey de Zwaan, who claimed his first career victory against the 2018 World Champion.
De Zwaan now plays Michael Smith, who landed seven 180s in his 6-4 win over Polish ace Krzysztof Ratajski to reach the final day of a European Tour event for the first time in 2019.
Nathan Aspinall silenced Max Hopp's German support as he gained some measure of revenge for his loss in the 2015 World Youth Championship final with an impressive 6-3 success.
"That's the hardest game I've played in my life - I've never played in an atmosphere like that," said Aspinall.
"It was really hard. Max has turned German darts around so full credit to him, so I'm so happy to win. I owe him that for the final!
"It's another tick in my career that I've handled myself well tonight and I'm proud."
Aspinall's third round opponent will be Daryl Gurney, who survived three missed match darts from Chris Dobey in his comeback from 5-2 down to snatch a 6-5 win.
Ian White, the runner-up to Van Gerwen in the German Darts Open and Austrian Darts Open over the past fortnight, also escaped missed match darts before edging past World Youth Champion Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-5.
White opens Sunday afternoon's third round against a former World Youth Champion, after Keegan Brown claimed a 6-2 win over Ricky Evans, taking out 112 and 107 in a run of four straight legs for victory.
Jamie Hughes missed double 12 for a nine-dart finish during his brilliant 6-3 win over Adrian Lewis, as the Tipton ace averaged 103.97 in moving through to play Mark McGeeney.
McGeeney's European Tour debut continued with a 6-5 win over Joe Cullen, as the Stockport thrower followed an earlier 135 checkout with a 14-darter in their deciding leg.
Steve Beaton was another player to escape in a deciding leg as he survived two missed match darts from Mensur Suljovic to continue his own run of form.
Beaton faces a third round tie on Sunday afternoon against Ryan Searle, who defeated Glen Durrant in Friday's first round before receiving a second round Bye following the withdrawal of James Wade.
Grand Slam of Darts champion Gerwyn Price averaged 103.41 and finished six doubles from ten attempts in a superb 6-1 win over Gavin Carlin.
The Welshman now plays Darren Webster, who was a narrow 6-5 winner against Vincent van der Voort, coming from 4-3 down to edge into the last 16.
2018 Austrian Darts Open winner Clayton came from 2-1 down to defeat Ross Smith 6-4 as he booked his spot in the third round.
Clayton's opponent on Sunday afternoon will be Peter Wright, with the six-time European Tour winner also having found himself 2-1 down against Dutch debutant Niels Zonneveld before pulling away to win 6-4.
The European Darts Grand Prix is being held from May 10-12 at the Glaspalast in Sindelfingen, Germany. Coverage will be broadcast through PDCTV-HD for all subscribers worldwide, and through a series of bookmakers' websites listed below.
2019 European Darts Grand Prix
Saturday May 11
Michael Smith 6-4 Krzysztof Ratajski
Mark McGeeney 6-5 Joe Cullen
Jonny Clayton 6-4 Ross Smith
James Richardson 6-3 Mervyn King
Keegan Brown 6-2 Ricky Evans
Ian White 6-5 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Gerwyn Price 6-1 Gavin Carlin
Jeffrey de Zwaan 6-3 Rob Cross
Darren Webster 6-5 Vincent van der Voort
Daryl Gurney 6-5 Chris Dobey
Steve Beaton 6-5 Mensur Suljovic
Jamie Hughes 6-3 Adrian Lewis
Nathan Aspinall 6-3 Max Hopp
Michael van Gerwen 6-5 Brendan Dolan
Peter Wright 6-4 Niels Zonneveld
NB: James Wade's withdrawal meant that Ryan Searle receives a Bye in the second round.
Sunday May 12
Afternoon Session (1300 local time, 1200 BST)
Ian White v Keegan Brown
Jeffrey de Zwaan v Michael Smith
Steve Beaton v Ryan Searle
Gerwyn Price v Darren Webster
Daryl Gurney v Nathan Aspinall
Jamie Hughes v Mark McGeeney
Peter Wright v Jonny Clayton
Michael van Gerwen v James Richardson
Evening Session (1915 local time, 1815 BST)
White/Brown v De Zwaan/Smith
Beaton/Searle v Price/Webster
Gurney/Aspinall v Hughes/McGeeney
Wright/Clayton v Van Gerwen/Richardson
All games up to and including the quarter-finals are the best of 11 legs, with the semi-finals the best of 13 legs and the final the best of 15 legs. Sunday’s games played in Draw Bracket order.
PDC European Tour events can be watched online through PDCTV-HD for all subscribers worldwide.
Live coverage with faster streams may also be available at the following bookmakers' websites:
bet365 - www.bet365.com - Worldwide
Bet90 - www.bet90.com - Brazil, Germany
Betfair - www.betfair.com - Brazil, Denmark, England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Wales
Betfred - www.betfred.com - England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales
bwin - www.bwin.com - Worldwide
FDJ - www.fdj-gaming-solutions.com - France
Fonbet - www.fonbet.com - Armenia, Belarus, Cyprus, Kazakhstan, Russian federation, Ukraine
Fortuna - www.fortunagroup.eu - Croatia, Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Slovakia
Legolasbet - www.legolas.bet - Sweden
Ligastavok - www.ligastavok.ru/ - Russia
Marathonbet - www.betmarathon.com - Belarus, Russian Federation, Spain, Ukraine
Nike - www.nike.sk - Slovakia
Olimp - www.betolimp.com - Kazakhstan, Russian federation
Paddy Power - www.paddypower.com/ - England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales
Stoiximan - www.stoiximan.gr - Cyprus, Greece, Romania
Supabets - www.supabets.com.gh - Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa
Superbet - www.superbet.ro/ - Romania, Poland
Tempobet - www.tempobet.org - Europe
Totogaming - www.totogaming.am/en/ - Armenia
Tipsport - www.tipsport.cz - Czech Republic & Slovakia
Unibet - www.unibet.com - Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden, United Kingdom
William Hill - www.williamhill.com - Great Britain, Ireland, Spain
Winlinebet - www.winlinebet.ru - Russia
World Sports Betting - www.worldsportsbetting.co.za - Namibia, South Africa