Simon Whitlock ended Corey Cadby’s return to PDC Darts as the first round of the Melbourne Darts Masters got under way, on a night that saw also saw Damon Heta upset Kyle Anderson to claim an unexpected win on his birthday at the Hisense arena.
In the all Australian clash it was the more experienced Whitlock who overcame his young rival to claim a 6-4 win and set up a quarter-final match with Michael van Gerwen who also secured victory on day one.
The big moment in the early stages of the match saw Whitlock take out 137 going 57, tops, tops to level at 2-2 and wrestle the initiative away from Cadby.
Whitlock then moved in to a 4-2 lead and looked set to record a more comfortable win.
Cadby, who was playing in his first televised PDC event since making the final of the UK Open in March then battled back to level the game at 4-4.
The younger Australian left 30 to take the lead and go one leg from the quarter-finals but decided to split the score and went on to miss his two shots at a double, allowing Whitlock to move in and break the throw for a 5-4 advantage.
The former European Championship winner then sealed the deal in the next leg but spoke of his respect for Cadby after the match.
"I honestly believe Corey is the most talented player to ever come out of Australia, the kid is phenomenal," said Whitlock.
“It’s really good to get another win against him and that gives me confidence for my match against Michael tomorrow."
Michael van Gerwen averaged 112.61 and hit six maximums on his way to booking a spot in the last eight of the Melbourne Darts Masters as he beat Raymond Smith 6-1.
The world number one was imperious throughout and put an abrupt halt to Smith’s PDC televised debut winning five of the last six legs to seal the win.
Smith, who will make his debut at the World Championship in December, did miss a dart to level at 2-2 early in the match but Van Gerwen was far too strong for his opponent on the opening day of action at the Hisense arena.
“The scoring was great but 180s don’t win you matches so my finishing pleased me as well tonight,” said Van Gerwen.
“I didn’t really know what to expect from Raymond so I made sure I didn’t make many mistakes and now we move on to tomorrow.”
Kyle Anderson was the only PDC player representative not to make the last eight in Melbourne as his best friend and old school mate Damon Heta beat him 6-5.
The pair who had played darts as juniors together as well as sharing time at school played out a scrappy encounter with Heta surviving a match-dart to book a day two tussle with Gary Anderson.
“It’s a great present to share the stage with one of my best friends and to beat him was great,” said Heta who celebrated his 31st birthday with a win.
“Kyle and I have known each other for ages and used to spend so much time with each other playing darts and having fun.
“We’ve always talked about playing each other on the big stage and today that dream came true.”
Heta will now face Gary Anderson after the World Matchplay Champion averaged 109 on his way to a 6-2 first round win against James Bailey in the fourth game of the evening at the Hisense Arena.
The two-time World Champion also hit 50% of his shots at doubles to round off an incredibly impressive performance.
Anderson had looked like getting close to breaking the highest World Series average of 118.21, set by Michael van Gerwen in 2014 as he raced in to a 5-0 lead. However some sloppy visits cost the Scot a shot at the record.
“That felt good today. I was getting shots for 12 and 13-dart legs most of the time so I knew the average was good for most of the game,” offered the 47-year-old.
“James was obviously a bit nervous today and I understand that but the quality of these guys is getting better each year and it’s really great to see.
“We saw in Auckland how close the qualifiers are coming so you have to concentrate and play well.”
In the first game of the evening 2018 Auckland Darts Masters finalist Raymond van Barneveld overcame Ray O’Donnell 6-4.
The five-time World Champion stared slowly, trailing the Australian 3-1 before winning five of the next six legs to secure the win.
Van Barneveld will face Peter Wright next after the 2017 UK Open Champion hit all six of his attempts at doubles in whitewashing Mike Bosner.
The Scot hit two maximums during the match but spoke of his disappointment with his scoring after the win.
“I need to hit more 180s against Raymond tomorrow but if I finish like that again I reckon I should be okay,” joked Wright.
“The finishing was obviously perfect but I couldn’t find the scoring as well as I would have liked.
“Raymond is a great player and it will be good to play him tomorrow.”
Michael Smith will return for the second day of action at the Melbourne Darts Masters after a convincing 6-2 win over Tim Pusey, in which the former World Youth Champion hit 60% of his attempts at doubles.
Smith who was beaten in the opening round in Auckland a week earlier was keen to make amends for the poor performance that cost him in New Zealand.
“My preparation killed me last week but that’s no excuse. I’m not the sort to try and come up with reasons as to why I lost. He hit six doubles and I hit four so he deserved to win last week," said Smith who will now face World Champion Rob Cross in the quarter-finals.
"This time I felt a lot better and although it wasn’t my best performance I got the job done this time and I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”
Cross progressed in Melbourne after a 6-2 win over Haupai Puha.
The world number three who has made the final of two World Series events this year averaged 92.17 mainly due to some trouble on doubles but says there is plenty more to come as the tournament progresses.
“I’m looking forward to tomorrow, I still think I have plenty of gears to go through, that’s for sure,” said Cross.
“I will have to put a show on and play better against Michael, I missed a lot of darts at doubles today when it probably didn’t matter because he wasn’t on a finish, so maybe a little bit more pressure might help me.
“I am happy to be through, get a good night’s sleep tonight and make sure I am ready for tomorrow."
Melbourne Darts Masters: Schedule & Results
Friday August 10
(7pm local time, 10am UK time)
First Round (Best of 11 legs)
- Raymond van Barneveld 6-4 Ray O’Donnell
- Michael Smith 6-2 Tim Pusey
- Rob Cross 6-2 Haupai Puha
- Gary Anderson 6-2 James Bailey
- Peter Wright 6-0 Mike Bonser
- Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Raymond Smith
- Simon Whitlock 6-4 Corey Cadby
- Kyle Anderson 6-5 Damon Heta
Saturday August 11
(7pm local time, 10am UK time)
Quarter-Finals (Best of 19 legs)
- (1) Michael van Gerwen v Simon Whitlock
- (4) Peter Wright v Raymond van Barneveld
- (2) Rob Cross v Michael Smith
- (3) Gary Anderson v Kyle Anderson
Sunday August 12
(7pm local time, 10am UK time)
Semi Finals (Best of 19 legs)
- Winner QF 1 v Winner QF 2
- Winner QF 3 v Winner QF 4
Final (Best of 21 legs)
- Winner SF 1 v Winner SF 2