Winning starts in Wolverhampton for Anderson and Smith

Gary Anderson and Michael Smith shrugged off the first day nerves to record vital victories at the Grand Slam of Darts. 

Anderson was forced to produce his best against talented BDO youngster Cameron Menzies. 

The Grand Slam is high on Gary's wish list and he is aiming high this week in Wolverhampton, but he had to work for his 5-3 win.

After missing darts to break in the opening leg, the Scot his first maximum and then broke to leg three. He should have gone 4-1 up but missed four doubles, however he made amends with a superb 148 finish to move 4-2 in front.

Menzies replied with a 134 check-out and after missing the bull for a 122 finish to win in style, the Unicorn star nailed D8 to get his Grand Slam campaign off and running with a 97 average. 

Smith reached the semi-finals of the Grand Slam two years ago. It remains his only 'Major' TV semi-final. He had the honour of opening the 2017 Slam and in the end, got the better of Yorkshireman James Wilson. 

Wilson hit six 180s but missed key doubles. Smith raced into a 3-0 lead before four maximums in three legs saw Wilson level. The Unicorn man held throw and watched his opponent miss seven darts to force a deciding leg, before clinching a crucial 5-3 win on D3. 

But James Wade already faces a real struggle to qualify for the knock-out stages after slumping to a shock 5-1 defeat at the hands of Robbie Green. 

The Unicorn man just didn't get going and he missed six darts to win the opening leg which set the tone. Green went 4-0 up before Wade got a leg on the board, but it didn't matter. The Liverpudlian sealed the deal and Wade will probably have to beat Phil Taylor and Peter Machin to qualify for the last 16.

Saturday results:

Group A:

Rob Cross 5-1 Joe Murnan

Michael van Gerwen 5-1 Ross Montgomery 

Group B:

Gerwyn Price 5-3 Steve Lennon

Raymond van Barneveld 5-1 Jamie Hughes

Group C:

Robbie Green 5-1 James Wade

Phil Taylor 5-1 Peter Machin 

Group D:

Mark Webster 5-3 Darren Webster 

Daryl Gurney 5-1 Danny Noppert

Group E:

Alan Norris 5-4 Corey Cadby

Glen Durrant 5-2 Peter Wright

Group F:

Stephen Bunting 5-4 Jeffrey de Zwaan

Dave Chisnall 5-2 Scott Mitchell

Group G:

Michael Smith 5-3 James Wilson 

Mensur Suljovic 5-2 Mark McGeeney

Group H:

Berry van Peer 5-4 Simon Whitlock 

Gary Anderson 5-3 Cameron Menzies

By STUART PYKE at the Wolverhampton Civic

Photos courtesy Lawrence Lustig / PDC