In the Saturday evening session of the Boyle Sports Grand Slam of Darts in Coventry the last four quarterfinal places were up for grabs. Yesterday evening Dimitri Van den Bergh, James Wade, Simon Whitlock and Josè de Sousa had already secured their sports in the round of the last 8.
Michael Smith and Rob Cross opened the session and their encounter was to become a very exciting affair. Both players started the match very solidly and the Bully Boy was able to win the first two legs. Afterwards, however, the former youth world champion made a couple of mistakes on the doubles, which Voltage was able to exploit. Cross grabbed three legs in a row and went into the break with a 3:2 lead.
Session 2 then went to the Bully Boy by 3:2 and wit the third session started at 5:5. With the score at 7:7 Smith managed to get a very important break, which he confirmed with the darts and was only one leg away from the quarter finals. But Cross fought his way back to 9:9 and a single leg made the difference between victory and defeat. The Bully Boy started perfectly with a 177 and thus laid the foundation for his 10:9 victory and his progression into the quarter finals.
“At some point nothing seemed to work anymore, neither the trebles nor the doubles. Thank God I was able to start the last leg with a 177. That settled me down in the decisive moment,” Smith said after the match.
This was followed by the tie between Devon Petersen and Damon Heta, both of whom were in very good form over the last few months and were able to achieve good results. However, the African Warrior could not bring this form to the board in the first session, played an average of only 88 and was quickly trailing 1:4. The Heat from Australia was in good shape and averaged above 100.
His average went down in the second session, but Heta won it and went into the second break with a 7:3 lead. Petersen struggled with himself and with many darts, which were not safely in the board and fell out.
But the African Warrior lived up to his nickname and won three consecutive legs at 8:3, making the match exciting again. But Heta kept his nerve and managed to preserve his lead from the early stages and finally and deservedly won the match by 10:7.
Afterwards the match was on the agenda, which all darts fans had been looking forward to since the end of the group phase: Michael van Gerwen against Gary Anderson. But what sounded like a high-class and above all exciting match turned out to be a one-sided affair. The Flying Scotsman’s knee problems seemed to hamper his game too much.
In the first session, the Scot still had some good chances and checked 132 on the Bull but also missed a lot on the doubles and MVG managed go into the break with a solid 4:1 lead. After that it was “one-way darts” so to speak: Anderson won just one more leg and MVG dominated with his average of 101.8.
With an unexpectedly clear 10:2, the world number 1 moves into the round of the last 8.
“Gary played good darts in patches, but his knee problems probably prevented more. But in the end, it shouldn’t matter when you compete and I am of course happy about the clear victory”, stated MVG at Sky Sports.
In the last game of the evening it was much closer again. The current two-time Grand Slam champion Gerwyn Price had to play Nathan Aspinall. The Iceman had an below-par start to the match and was down by 2:3 after the first session. But for the fans of the Welshman it should get even worse, because after ten legs the score was 7:3 in Aspinall`s favour. But Price seemed to be able make a miraculous comeback once again, just like in his last group match against Ryan Joyce. With a great little run, the Iceman took five legs in a row and led by 8:7 as the match went into its decisive phase. But Aspinall kept his nerves, equalised and then secured the important break to take a 9:8 lead. Price then missed two darts to level on double 4 in the 18th leg and Aspinall was able to celebrate a 92 bulls eye finish for the win.
“What a game! I’m not just saying that because I won – but I love playing against Gerwyn. He brings out the best in me and these matches have everything that makes darts so special. Passion, emotion and adrenaline,” said an overjoyed Nathan Aspinall.
On Sunday, the Grand Slam will continue live on Sky Sports, DAZN, Sport1 and RTL 7 with the quarter finals – two in the afternoon and two in the evening.
2020 Boyle Sports Grand Slam of Darts, Saturday, November 21, 2nd round, Best of 19 legs
Michael Smith 10:9 Rob Cross
Devon Petersen 7:10 Damon Heta
Michael van Gerwen 10:2 Gary Anderson
Gerwyn Price 8:10 Nathan Aspinall
2020 Boyle Sports Grand Slam of Darts, Sunday, November 22, quarter finals, Best of 31 legs
Afternoon session (1pm GMT)
Michael Smith – José de Sousa
Damon Heta – James Wade
Evening session (7pm GMT)
Nathan Aspinall – Dimitri Van den Bergh
Michael van Gerwen – Simon Whitlock