Paul Nicholson back to winning ways at European Darts Grand Prix

Darts
Paul Nicholson - back to winning ways
Paul Nicholson - back to winning ways

Paul Nicholson returned to winning ways on the Glaspalast stage in Sindelfingen with a first round win as the European Darts Grand Prix began on Friday.

A finalist back in 2013 - narrowly missing out on the title in a 6-5 defeat to Wes Newton - Nicholson was keen to banish those memories and got off to the perfect start with a 6-2 victory over Dawson Murshell.

Averaging 96.5, ‘The Asset’ landed 40 percent of his efforts on the doubles, including a match-high 105 finish as he brushed aside the European Tour debutant.

"It's fantastic to be back on this stage," said Nicholson. "I was staring at that dreaded double-twelve I missed back in 2013, but it is great to be back playing darts here. Before the game, I just took myself away from the practice room, got in my zone, and I am delighted to get through."

He will face Mervyn King, a champion in this event in 2014, in the second round.

Home favourite Max Hopp, a winner on the European Tour this year, crashed out in the opening round in a 6-4 defeat to James Wade. In a scrappy affair, Wade kept his nerve on the doubles and recovered from 2-0 and 3-2 down to progress.

Danny Noppert swept aside Krzysztof Ratajski 6-3 in arguably the game of the evening session.

After the first six legs went with throw, the Dutchman - averaging just shy of 100 - found his rhythm and landed a 101 checkout to break throw on his way to the second round.

Noppert’s compatriot Jermaine Wattimena also squeezed into the second round, winning a last-leg decider against Toni Alcinas.

In a highly entertaining affair, Kyle Anderson ensured his presence on day two with a 6-4 win over ‘Rapid’ Ricky Evans.

The Aussie, who made the semi-finals of the 2017 Unibet European Championship, fired a beautiful 121 checkout to seal the victory.

That match-winning checkout was then bettered in the final game of the evening as Robert Marijanovic saw off Andy Boulton 6-3.

The Croatian landed a brilliant 123 combination finish on double nine to secure the victory. Elsewhere, Jamie Caven beat Mareno Michels 6-1, and Jamie Lewis progressed against Christian Bunse 6-4.

Earlier in the day, home favourite Martin Schindler delighted the crowd as he whitewashed Robert Owen 6-0.

The German number two was the top performer in the afternoon session in Sindelfingen, booking his place in the second round in style as he took out 120 to round up a convincing display over Owen.

Clinically taking out six doubles from ten attempts, the youngster will now face Joe Cullen on Saturday.

Former European Tour event winner Vincent van der Voort put in the performance of the day as he produced a 103.4 average in his win over Steve Lennon.

The Dutchman was back to his best as he fired in five 180s in the match to set up a clash with Rob Cross on Saturday evening.

Former World Championship finalist Kirk Shepherd pulled off an upset as he beat Stephen Bunting 6-2 to line up a clash with reigning European Darts Grand Prix champion Peter Wright.

Shepherd, playing in his second European Tour event of the year, was in fine form and managed to stave off a Bunting comeback to wrap up the victory.

Arron Monk opened the afternoon session with a 6-3 win over Peter Hudson, whilst Alan Tabern comfortably dealt with debutant Mats Gies by the same scoreline.

Madars Razma, playing in his third European Tour event, produced a strong display as he saw off Steve Hine 6-4.

The Latvian star, who hit two 180s and hit six doubles from 11 attempts en route to the win, will now take on Ian White in round two.

German qualifier Gabriel Clemens went the same way as Compatriot Hopp as he suffered a 6-3 loss to Jan Dekker.

The Dutchman produced a solid display, including a magnificent 136 checkout, and will now face Premier League star Whitlock in round two.

Matt Padgett upset the odds with a 6-4 victory over Dimitri Van den Bergh.

Padgett, making his first European Tour appearance in four years, was clinical on the doubles as he hit six from eight attempts to set up a clash Dave Chisnall.

The action continues in the European Darts Grand Prix on Saturday with the second round, with all games broadcast throughout the weekend for all PDCTV-HD Subscribers worldwide.

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