A review of Sunday's action at the World Grand Prix as Michael van Gerwen survived a huge scare against Jamie Hughes to reach round two in Dublin.
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Michael van Gerwen showed real character and quality under real pressure as he avoided an opening night upset against Jamie Hughes at the World Grand Prix in Dublin.
The defending champion, who is bidding to win the unique double-start major for a fifth time, found himself in danger of being dumped out at the first hurdle for the second time here in three years when the debutant from Tipton moved one set up on a deciding leg.
Van Gerwen bounced back to take the second 3-1 thanks to a clinical 108 checkout, although with Hughes having the advantage of throwing first in the final set, there was still plenty of work to do.
Hughes, who has enjoyed a superb debut season on the PDC circuit by winning a European Tour title and progressed far in many other tournaments, brilliantly cleaned up 84 to move 1-0 ahead in the decider only to miss two darts to break the MVG throw in the next.
The world number one punished him but moments later he looked in big trouble again when Hughes followed up an opening 160 with his third maximum to set up a possible nine-darter.
The former BDO ace made it seven perfect darts but faltered with his next two and failed to take out 80 at his next visit, giving MVG a chance from 135 which he took out in spectacular fashion on the bullseye.
Van Gerwen, who has won 10 titles this season including the televised Masters, Premier League, Melbourne Masters and New Zealand Masters despite questions being regularly raised over his dominance, proceeded to race through the fourth leg to seal a 2-1 victory that sees him advance to the second round against Jeffrey de Zwaan.
Gary Anderson has yet to win the PDC's third longest running major during his glittering career but he made a smooth start to his campaign with a 2-0 victory over Keegan Brown.
The Flying Scotsman cruised through the opening set 3-0 and avoided being taken to a decider by brilliantly taking the fifth leg of the second with a 13-darter as his opponent waited on 36.
James Wade ended his five-year drought for a win at the World Grand Prix as he battled past John Henderson 2-1.
The Machine is a two-time winner of this event, which requires players to start and finish all legs on a double, but he's struggled here in recent times and appeared in danger when the popular Scotsman took the second set to force a decider.
Wade, who lifted the prestigious trophy in 2007 and 2010 during his most successful era so far, didn't look fazed and raced through it 3-0 to underline why many feel he could lift this trophy again now that he's back to somewhere near his best.
Since his last first-round exit here 12 months ago, the Aldershot man's revival saw him win back-to-back TV titles at the European Championship and World Series of Darts Finals while this season he's won five Pro Tour events, reached the Masters final and five semi-finals that were all televised and/or on the stage environment.
Next up for Wade is Mervyn King, who produced a fine comeback to defeat Dimitri van den Bergh in a sudden-death leg.
The 2012 runner-up was punished for missing four set darts in the opener but a 112 checkout in the next paved the way for him to force a decider.
His fightback looked to be in vain as the two-time world youth champion moved 2-0 up but he won three lets on the trot, with help of a superb 133 checkout, to edge through.
Michael Smith battled back from the brink of defeat against Simon Whitlock to reach round two on this stage for just the second time in seven appearances.
Bully Boy, who is yet to win a big televised major despite reaching four finals in the past 18 months, trailed 2-1 in the second set having also lost the opener 3-1, as the 2017 runner-up sensed victory.
A struggling Smith suddenly hit top form out of nowhere as a 128 checkout saved the set before edging the next leg to force a decider.
The St Helens man stormed into a 2-0 with the help of a huge 155 checkout but he allowed Whitlock back in thanks to missing a pair of match darts although he kept his cool in a sudden death leg.
Ian White moved beyond the first round in Dublin for only the third time but only after a terrific comeback against Joe Cullen, who had him on the ropes after winning the first five legs of the match.
Trailing 2-0 in the second set against the man he thrashed 10-0 at the World Matchplay, Diamond produced back-to-back 82 checkouts before winning the decider to force a third set, which he duly won 3-0 to leave Cullen deflated.
Jeffrey de Zwaan had few problems as he swept Steve Beaton aside for the loss of just one leg while Chris Dobey enjoyed a winning debut in the opening match of the night as he beat Ricky Evans in straight sets, dropping just two legs in the process.
World Grand Prix: Sunday results & Monday schedule
Sunday October 6 (7pm)
TV Coverage: Sky Sports
First Round (Best of three sets)
- Chris Dobey 2-0 Ricky Evans (3-1, 3-1)
- Mervyn King 2-1 Dimitri Van den Bergh (2-3, 3-1, 3-2)
- Ian White 2-1 Joe Cullen (0-3, 3-2, 3-0)
- Jeffrey de Zwaan 2-0 Steve Beaton (3-1, 3-0)
- James Wade 2-1 John Henderson (3-1, 2-3, 3-0)
- Michael Smith 2-1 Simon Whitlock (1-3, 3-2, 3-2)
- Michael van Gerwen 2-1 Jamie Hughes (2-3, 3-1, 3-1)
- Gary Anderson 2-0 Keegan Brown (3-0, 3-2)
Monday October 7 (7pm)
TV Coverage: Sky Sports
First Round (Best of three sets)
- Stephen Bunting v Jonny Clayton
- Vincent van der Voort v Nathan Aspinall
- Adrian Lewis v Jermaine Wattimena
- Glen Durrant v Krzysztof Ratajski
- Daryl Gurney v Danny Noppert
- Gerwyn Price v Dave Chisnall
- Rob Cross v Mensur Suljovic
- Peter Wright v Max Hopp