Gerwyn Price set up a blockbuster meeting with Welsh World Cup-winning team-mate Jonny Clayton on a special night for darts as the World Matchplay returned to Blackpool in front of spectators.
World champion Price raced to victory against Jermaine Wattimena while Premier League winner Clayton showed his class by coming through against Dutch debutant Dirk van Duijvenbode.
Dancing Dimitri Van den Bergh began his title defence in style with an emphatic win against Devon Petersen.
There were a total of seven breaks of throw in the opening match of the night as Dave Chisnall fended off Vincent van der Voort’s challenge to claim his spot in the second round and a meeting with Van den Bergh.
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July 18, 2021, 1:00pm
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First Round of the World Matchplay
The Iceman ice cool in Blackpool
Price was introduced as world champion in front of a live crowd for the first time, but the world No 1 suffered an early wobble before charging back for a 3-2 lead against rapid-fire Wattimena.
The Dutchman, a late replacement for Mensur Suljovic, struck with a 116 to rattle the Welshman, but Price landed a sweet 132 to move 6-4 up.
The Iceman broke to move four legs clear and he edged closer to the finishing line with a neat 108 checkout. He completed a resounding 10-4 success thanks to a 127 finish to seal his first win in the seaside resort for five years.
The Ferret gets over the line
Clayton came into the tournament as the most successful player of 2021, having won the Premier League, The Masters along with two Players Championship events, but he had yet to win a match on his previous three appearances at the event.
The Welshman set about correcting that small anomaly by charging into a 2-0 lead, but the man known as Aubergenius responded with an immaculate 164 bullseye finish.
A 14-dart leg enabled the Dutchman to hit back for 3-3 after the break and they remained level-pegging until The Ferret reeled off four legs on the bounce for an 8-5 advantage. The 16th seed eventually completed a 10-7 win with a fine 12-dart leg.
Van den Bergh dazzles on his Winter Gardens debut
Van den Bergh lifted the coveted Phil Taylor Trophy at the start of the evening having sensationally won on debut behind closed doors in Milton Keynes in 2020.
He returned for the last match of the night against South Africa’s Petersen where he struggled to find any consistency early doors.
Despite averaging just 90, The Dreammaker nailed 108, followed by a 12-dart leg, and he pinned D2 to move 6-2 ahead.
Petersen was looking totally dejected and it was not long before Van den Bergh put him out of his misery to complete a 10-5 success.
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Live World Matchplay Darts
July 18, 2021, 7:30pm
Chizzy wins opening night thriller
Chisnall and Van der Voort took the honour of contesting the first match back in the Empress Ballroom and after the St Helens ace levelled at 2-2 with a 124 checkout, he broke the Dutchman’s throw with a neat 14-darter.
The Dutch Destroyer responded with a 129 bullseye finish, but Chizzy turned it on with a scintillating 161 on the bullseye before a cool ton out gave him a 5-3 advantage.
Chisnall, a five-time quarter-finalist in six years here, maintained his two-leg cushion until Van der Voort hit back by nailing tops for 7-7. But in a topsy-turvy climax, Chisnall took out 76 to move one leg away and he held throw with double 10 to seal victory.
Watch the World Matchplay from the iconic Winter Gardens all the way through until Sunday, July 25. Check out daily Darts news on skysports.com/darts, our app for mobile devices and our Twitter account @skysportsdarts
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