MICHAEL VAN GERWEN hit a sensational nine-dart finish in the Betfair World Matchplay last night as he won a quarter-final place alongside World Champion Adrian Lewis, 2007 winner James Wade and two-time finalist Terry Jenkins.
Van Gerwen, the 23-year-old Dutch prodigy, became only the fourth player in the tournament’s history - alongside Phil Taylor, Raymond van Barneveld and John Part - to achieve the perfect leg when he hit 180, 180 and finished 141 on double 12 in the ninth leg of his clash with Steve Beaton.
He will pick up a £5,000 bonus for the nine-darter, although he remains in the hunt to claim the £100,000 first prize after going on to win a heavy-scoring contest in style with a 13-9 triumph.
Van Gerwen hit six ton-plus finishes in the game - accompanying the 141 with checkouts of 128, 120, a pair of 116 finishes and a 108 - as well as hitting seven 180s to finish with an end average of 104.36.
“The nine-darter was amazing,” said van Gerwen. “It means so much for me and I’m very happy - I exploded into the game after the nine-darter.
“It was a very good game and Steve played well too. To win the game with a 104 average and a nine-darter is brilliant.”
Van Gerwen now faces former champion James Wade in a tasty quarter-final tie on Friday night, with the world number three securing his place in the last eight for a seventh successive year by seeing off Mark Walsh 13-4.
Wade was rarely troubled as he romped into a 10-1 lead, and although Walsh rallied briefly the left-hander proved too strong to secure passage into the latter stages once again.
“I did all the damage early on and did a job on Mark,” said Wade. “I think every player enjoys a ding-dong and I didn’t get that tonight, but I’ve done my practice and I’m deserving to win at the moment.”
World Champion Lewis, the number two seed, followed up his first round whitewash of Robert Thornton by winning the first seven legs of his second round clash with Andy Smith in a fine start.
Smith won six of the next eight to threaten a comeback, but a 149 checkout from Lewis - to follow earlier finishes of 138 and 116 - helped avert any threat as he progressed to play Terry Jenkins.
“Andy didn’t start very well and I took advantage but I’ve got to knuckle down and concentrate better because I let him back in too many times,” admitted Lewis. “I got the job done and I’ll have to be better in the quarter-finals.”
Jenkins, the runner-up in Blackpool in 2007 and 2009, won a see-saw battle with Raymond van Barneveld 13-10 to book his clash with the world number two on Friday.
The Ledbury thrower trailed twice to the Dutchman but came from 8-6 down to finish the stronger, winning seven of the game’s final nine legs to knock out the five-time World Champion.
“I took some good finishes out when I needed to so I’m happy,” said Jenkins. “It was nip and tuck but I’ve got through and that’s all that matters.
“I’ve had a few good runs in this tournament and I like the longer format. I would really like to win a major, that would cap my career off - but a lot of players would swap players with me because I’ve been in seven major finals.”
The second round concludes with the remaining four games on Thursday evening, with reigning champion Phil Taylor facing Ian White in an all-Stoke battle.
Number five seed Wes Newton plays Justin Pipe, World Championship finalist Andy Hamilton faces Mark Webster and local favourite Ronnie Baxter meets Dean Winstanley.