It was a sprint for Gary Anderson as he reached the Grand Slam quarter-finals.
But Unicorn teammates Michael Smith and James Wade were beaten on Thursday. Smith lost a Grand Slam Classic to Michael van Gerwen, while Wade suffered a shock defeat at the hands of young German Michael Unterbuchner.
Anderson was irresistible in despatching Wesley Harms 10-2 and will play surprise package Unterbuchner.
A near 102 average, six 180s, some brilliant finishing with 63% on the doubles. In the second session of the match the Unicorn star won five straight legs without missing a double as he went from 3-2 to 8-2 in a matter of minutes.
“I got going once I got my pace going. There was some good stuff in there, but I will have to improve if I want to challenge for this title,” he said.
Gary raced into a 3-0 lead and was clinical, summed up by a 90 finish on the bull. Harms got two legs back, but only after Anderson had missed darts to win both of them. That is as close as the Dutchman got.
Finishes of 84 then 136 and eventually a two dart 77 check-out to move through to that quarter-final clash on Saturday. Is this finally his year to win that Grand Slam crown?
Smith can be proud of his performance. He pushed Van Gerwen all the way before the defending champion won 10-8.
He started superbly, breaking Van Gerwen in the opening leg and then firing back-to-back 180s and an 11 darter to double his lead. A 121 finish took him 3-1 in front. It was always going to be close but the 8th leg proved to be crucial. The Unicorn man missed two darts at D8 for a 5-3 lead, allowing Van Gerwen to level at four apiece.
The World No.1 then hit seven perfect darts to move ahead for the first time at 5-4 after winning a third straight leg.
Under pressure, Smith kept his cool as every time Van Gerwen edged ahead, he kept levelling the match....112 and 80 check outs were vital. In the end two missed darts in the 16the leg were difference and although the St Helens star broke back, Van Gerwen closed the match out after hitting an 11th 180.
He averaged 108 to Smith’s 101 but the Unicorn man is getting better and better. He came mighty close and his big TV title awaits for sure..
Wade though, will wonder how this one got away. After his brilliant victories at the European Championship and World Series Finals, he was a big odds-on favourite to go through to the last eight.
Unfortunately it just wasn’t his night as he squandered countless chances and was playing catch up against the young German.
After winning the opening leg, Wade failed to take his opportunities and he was punished by Unterbuchner who won four on the spin to take control. The Unicorn man never recovered from the poor start.
He could have lost 10-4 but Unterbuchner missed a match dart. Wade pulled a couple of legs back but there was no miracle this time as the BDO man completed his big upset.
Thursday 2nd Round results:
Jonny Clayton 10-3 Krzysztof Ratajski
Michael Unterbuchner 10-6 James Wade
Gary Anderson 10-2 Wesley Harms
Michael van Gerwen 10-8 Michael Smith
Gerwyn Price v Simon Whitlock
Mensur Suljovic v Dimitri van den Bergh
By STUART PYKE
Image courtesy Lawrence Lustig / PDC