Nicholson gets seaside tonic
A review of Sunday afternoon's action in the BetVictor World Matchplay as Paul Nicholson beat Robert Thornton in Blackpool.
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Paul Nicholson erased the memory of his painful defeat in last year's BetVictor World Matchplay with a gutsy 10-8 defeat of Robert Thornton on Sunday afternoon, as Dave Chisnall, Richie Burnett and Andy Hamilton joined him in the second round in Blackpool.
Nicholson had left the Winter Gardens stage in tears 12 months ago as he allowed a lead to slip against Chisnall, but this year progressed through a tough first round clash with Thornton before emotionally celebrating his triumph.
The former Players Championship Finals winner hit back from 2-0 down to win five successive legs, only for Thornton to then take four in a row to move 6-5 up.
The Scot also leg 7-6, but Nicholson punished three key misses at double 12 from his opponent to level in the 14th leg, before taking out a key 107 finish as he pulled through to claim the win.
"I'm so pleased to win, but also with the way I got the win," said Nicholson.
"I think it's a big hurdle, and coming back here this year was all about redemption. When I got the opportunity I took it and I've worked so hard over the last couple of weeks to get ready for this tournament and I can see a lot of positives.
"In that first five or six legs, I can see some good scoring and I've just got to get some consistency, which will come with match practice. I'm looking forward to the future."
Nicholson also revealed: "I've had a lot of pain in my neck and shoulders over the last two or three months and I've worked really hard with an acupuncturist and my therapist, and now I've figured out what was wrong, I can put it right - and watch out now!"
Hamilton and Chisnall set up a tasty second round clash as they both progressed with victories on Sunday afternoon.
Two-time World Championship semi-finalist Hamilton romped to a 10-3 win over Wayne Jones, who hit back from 2-0 down to level at three-all only to lose seven successive legs as the Stoke star moved into the last 16.
"I started well with an 11-darter and it gave me a lot of confidence," said Hamilton. "I scored well today, I'm playing solid darts and I'm fighting hard.
"Wayne's been there for years and years and we know how good he can be so I wanted to hit him hard early on and punish him, and that's what happened.
"I've put a lot of hard work in and I'm benefitting from that. It's probably the hardest I've ever worked for a TV event and I want to move on from here - I know I can win it, I've been in finals and I want to win a major now."
Chisnall, meanwhile, impressed with a 10-4 win over Dean Winstanley, taking out finishes of 132, 131 and 121 and averaging almost 99.
Winstanley hit back from 5-1 down to trail just 6-4 at one stage, but missed his chance to cut the gap to one in the 11th leg as Chisnall posed double two to regain the edge before taking the next three legs without reply for a fine win.
"It was a good win for me," said Chisnall. "I've been knocked out of the last couple of European Tour events because of missed doubles but I've worked a lot on that in practise and it paid off.
"I'm getting fed up of losing games that I should be winning and I've always said that if I hit my doubles I can beat anybody because my scoring is quite high.
"I was focused today and when I hit the 131 checkout in the first leg I knew I was going to play well and hit my doubles."
Former finalist Burnett progressed to a second round tie with 2007 World Matchplay champion James Wade after a 10-4 defeat of Brendan Dolan, who also hit back from 2-0 down to level at three-all.
However, the Welshman finished 96 and 61 as he edged away before finishing 121 and 101 as he took five successive legs in sweeping to the win.
"It's really hard to play against Brendan, but once I got into a rhythm I was fine and I kicked on," said Burnett. "Brendan is a lot better than he showed today but I'll take the win.
"I love this place, it's my favourite venue and I'd love to do well in this tournament. Now I'm past the first round, I can relax and look forward to the next game.
"I can kick on from here and I know I can play 10 times better than that, but I'm just happy to get through. If I turn up and score well and hit my doubles, I can beat anybody.