It will rank as one of the biggest upsets in the 25-year history of the World Matchplay and it is Unicorn new boy Jeffrey de Zwaan who stunned World No.1 Michael van Gerwen on the opening night at the Winter Gardens.
De Zwaan shocked Van Gerwen 10-6 with a classy, cultured and cool display. A sensational result and the second time he’s beaten the World No.1 in a TV ‘Major’ this year after his triumph at the UK Open.
Make no mistake, this was thoroughly deserved as he forced Van Gerwen into a series of errors.
De Zwaan, who now plays Adrian Lewis, couldn’t hide his delight at the biggest win of his career.
“I always thought I could do it,” he said. “At five legs all, my belief grew, and he started to panic a bit I think.”
“I kept cool and he started to feel pressure. It is an amazing feeling for sure!”
The Unicorn starlet came from 0-2 down and kept pace with Van Gerwen. His finishing was spot on. He levelled at 4-4 with four hits at ‘tops’ and again at 6-6 with a sublime 121 check-out.
That was the signal for a glorious golden run. De Zwaan won five straight legs and Van Gerwen simply had no answer.
De Zwaan hit his 10 doubles from only 16 attempts......fantastic display!
Michael Smith is also through. He will face Dave Chisnall in the 2nd Round after a convincing 10-6 victory over Jonny Clayton. He should have been 5-0 up but for missed doubles, but always looked in control.
Six 180s and an air of confidence from the Shanghai Champion and the Unicorn man looked very comfortable. He will believe he can have a real crack at this prestigious title.
But for Keegan Brown, there was huge disappointment in Blackpool as the Unicorn youngster slid to a 10-4 defeat at the hands of Dave Chisnall.
Despite starting with a superb 109 check-out to take the opening leg against the throw, Brown faded fast and got increasingly frustrated. Chisnall clicked and produced some blistering finishing to seize control.
Chizzy nailed finishes of 148, 147 and 140 and punished Brown with a series of maximums and 171s. He went on a run of winning nine legs in 10 to cruise to victory. It will be a defeat Brown will want to forget about quickly.
But this is a night Jeffrey de Zwaan will never ever forget!
Saturday 1st Round results:
Adrian Lewis 10-8 James Wilson
Dave Chisnall 10-4 Keegan Brown
Michael van Gerwen 6-10 Jeffrey de Zwaan
Michael Smith 10-6 Jonny Clayton
Meanwhile Adrian Lewis came from 3-7 down to beat James Wilson 10-8, winning the match with a 116 finish.
And it’s another big day for Team Unicorn on Sunday in Blackpool with four more stars starting their bids for the title.
On Sunday afternoon Ian White faces German Max Hopp, while Joe Cullen plays Gerwyn Price.....and on Sunday night, it’s the turn if the two Andersons. Gary meets Stephen Bunting and Kyle clashes with Raymond van Barneveld.
By STUART PYKE in Blackpool
Photo courtesy Lawrence Lustig / PDC