Whitlock KO's Wright to reach Ladbrokes Masters quarter-finals

Simon Whitlock

Peter Wright's first TV appearance as a two-time World Champion ended in defeat at the hands of Simon Whitlock in the second round of the Ladbrokes Masters on Saturday in Milton Keynes.

Just 26 days on from winning his second World Championship, Wright was beaten 10-8 by Whitlock as the Australian continued to make the most of his late call-up to the event.

Whitlock, who stepped in to replace Danny Noppert, will return to the Marshall Arena for Sunday's final day of action, along with Saturday's seven other winners - who include reigning champion Jonny Clayton, world number one Gerwyn Price and five-time Masters winner Michael van Gerwen.

Whitlock produced a characteristically battling performance to spoil Wright's return to action as he reached his first Masters quarter-final since 2013.

Three consecutive legs saw the 52 year-old move within a leg of the match at 9-5, only for Wright to reply in kind to cut the gap to 9-8.

Despite a 180 from Wright in the following leg, Whitlock produced a 15-darter to get over the line.

"Peter has just won the World Championship, so it's obviously a big scalp to take," said Whitlock. "I got a bit panicky and nervous towards the end but thankfully I got it done.

"It's more relaxing knowing you shouldn't be in a tournament, I feel like there's no pressure on me."

Whitlock's quarter-final opponent will be Jose de Sousa, who enjoyed a return to form in Saturday's opening tie as he defeated Rob Cross 10-7 to become the first player to reach the quarter-finals.

World number seven De Sousa bounced back from a disappointing early exit at the World Championship to secure his first Masters victory, which he sealed with a 122 checkout on the bull.

Wales' top two Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton will meet in a mouth-watering quarter-final after seeing off Ryan Searle and Dimitri Van den Bergh respectively.

Price landed a 164 checkout in his 10-8 win in a match the world number one led throughout despite pressure from debutant Searle.

"I was thinking too much in that game instead of just playing," Price admitted. "I felt under enormous pressure today.

"I've had a full month off and hardly practiced and I think that showed tonight, I was a bit rusty.

"I need to up my game if I want to beat Jonny, he's a fantastic player who won a lot of titles last year."

Clayton's passage through was less straight forward as he came through a 19-leg thriller to keep alive his hopes of retaining the title.

With Clayton leading 9-6, Van den Bergh showed resilience to force a decider, only for the Welshman to land a timely 180 before wrapping up the win with an 88 checkout in the following visit.

"Dimitri didn't go away, he's a class player and I'm so glad to get over that mark," said Clayton.

"I just could not pull away from him; it was good timing with the 180 in the last leg.

"I'm happy with how I played considering we're just coming back from a break."

Van Gerwen survived five match darts from Luke Humphries as he began his quest for a sixth Masters title in dramatic fashion.

A stunning burst from Humphries saw him win four legs in a row to move within a famous win at 9-7, but the debutant's five missed doubles in leg 18 proved costly.

Van Gerwen took advantage of Humphries' misses with a crucial last dart double ten for an 80 checkout to force a decider in which he outscored his opponent.

"Games like this are always tough," said Van Gerwen. "I was far from my best tonight, I struggled to get myself going.

"I was trying too hard, I don't know why. I made mistakes and you can only blame yourself. I have to do better tomorrow, simple as that."

The Dutchman will now face Joe Cullen, who produced one of his finest ever displays in a televised event in a 10-1 thrashing of Gary Anderson.

A ruthless performance from Cullen saw him average 106.3, pinning three ton-plus checkouts in successive legs - including a 167 combination - and missing just three double attempts.

The 2017 runner-up had no answer to the barrage from Cullen, who is into the quarter-finals for the second time in his career.

"Everything I went for today I felt like I was going to hit," said Cullen.

"Normally my game is about scoring heavily to give myself time to hit a double but today my doubles were going in first or second time.

"It's a brilliant feeling to have, especially on a TV stage. I don't want to be remembered as a nearly man so it's time I won a big one, maybe it will be tomorrow."

Michael Smith and Dave Chisnall will meet in an all-St Helens clash after victories over Krzysztof Ratajski and James Wade respectively.

In his first outing since losing a second World Championship final, Smith averaged 105.49 in an impressive 10-6 win in which he fired in eight 180s and a 164 finish.

"I thought I played well once I got going, I was maybe guilty of enjoying the crowd too much in the first couple of legs," Smith admitted.

"Fair play to Krzysztof, he never gave up and he showed what a classy player he is especially towards the end.

"I'm pleased with my mind and where my game is at the moment. Ally Pally is gone now, it's all about 2022."

Chisnall also averaged over a ton (100.19) and hit nine 180s in a dominant 10-4 defeat of 2014 champion Wade.

After going 3-2 down, Chisnall reeled off the next seven legs without reply before finishing the job to book his place in the last eight for a fourth consecutive year.

Sunday's action on the decisive final day will begin at 1245 GMT with the quarter-finals, before the semi-finals and final take place from 1900 GMT.

The Ladbrokes Masters is being broadcast live on ITV4 in the UK, through the PDC's worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and Viaplay, and on PDCTV (excluding UK and Netherlands based subscribers).

2022 Ladbrokes Masters
Saturday January 29
Second Round
Afternoon Session 
Jose de Sousa 10-7 Rob Cross
Joe Cullen 10-1 Gary Anderson
Michael Smith 10-6 Krzysztof Ratajski
Dave Chisnall 10-4 James Wade

Evening Session 
Jonny Clayton 10-9 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Gerwyn Price 10-8 Ryan Searle
Simon Whitlock 10-8 Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen 10-9 Luke Humphries

Sunday January 30
Afternoon Session (1245 GMT)

Dave Chisnall v Michael Smith
Gerwyn Price v Jonny Clayton
Simon Whitlock v Jose de Sousa
Michael van Gerwen v Joe Cullen

Evening Session (1900 GMT)
Price/Clayton v Chisnall/Smith
Whitlock/De Sousa v Van Gerwen/Cullen
Price/Clayton/Chisnall/Smith v Whitlock/De Sousa/Van Gerwen/Cullen

Quarter-Finals - Best of 19 legs
Semi-Finals - Best of 21 legs
Final - Best of 21 legs

Prize Fund
Winner £60,000
Runner-Up £25,000
Semi-Finalists £17,500
Quarter-Finalists £10,000
Last 16 £5,000
Last 24 £2,500
Total £220,000