Gerwyn Price reaffirmed his title credentials at the BoyleSports World Grand Prix with a stunning comeback victory over Joe Cullen to seal his spot in the quarter-finals in Leicester.
The second round of the double-start event concluded on another dramatic night at the Morningside Arena on Thursday, and it was 2020 champion Price who stole the show with a scintillating six-leg burst in the closing stages against Cullen.
The Welshman trailed the Masters champion 2-1 following a largely subdued display, only to suddenly burst into life, averaging 107 in each of the last two sets to storm into Friday’s quarter-finals.
The world number one drew first blood in a scrappy first set, but Cullen restored parity at one apiece with a clean sweep in set two, before punishing Price’s profligacy in the third to move 2-1 ahead in the match.
Price regained his focus to blitz through set four with legs of 15, 13 and 14 darts, and the deciding set followed a similar pattern.
The 2021 World Champion followed up a 104 checkout by taking out 305 in six darts, firing in a superb 171 and taking out a tops-tops 134 combination, before a clinical 88 kill capped off an inspired fightback.
“I put myself under a lot of pressure, but when my back was up against the wall I produced my best darts,” reflected Price, who is bidding to reach a third successive World Grand Prix final.
“I’m nowhere near my best. I was way off the pace early on, but I produce my best stuff under pressure, which is brilliant.”
Price’s reward is a quarter-final showdown against Madars Razma, after the Latvian dumped out 2017 champion Daryl Gurney to reach the last eight of a TV event for the first time in his career.
Razma – who defeated Ryan Searle on his double-start debut on Tuesday – averaged 92, landed five 180s and pinned 37% of his attempts at a finishing double to complete one of his best big stage performances.
Gurney kicked off proceedings with a classy 110 checkout, but a sequence of six straight legs from Razma saw him establish a two-set lead with a 96 average.
Gurney arrested his slide in set three to halve the deficit, but Razma regained control with back-to-back 14-darters, and a trademark 171 with three treble 19s catapulted him to victory inside 16 darts.
“I’m in the quarter-finals – it sounds so amazing. I am living my dream, and I believe I can go further,” said a buoyant Razma, who is on the cusp of breaking into the world’s top 32.
“I am so happy. I am improving step by step, and I feel like I can beat everybody here. My new goal is to be in the top 32 by the World Championship.”
Elsewhere, Nathan Aspinall staged a remarkable comeback from 2-0 down to edge out UK Open champion Danny Noppert, surviving four match darts to secure a spot in his second World Grand Prix quarter-final.
Aspinall appeared to be staring down the barrel of a straight-sets defeat at one stage, but the tenacious Stockport star fought back bravely to preserve his hopes of a maiden double-start crown.
Noppert snatched a hard-fought opening stanza after Aspinall frittered away five set darts, and his frustration was compounded when the Dutchman doubled his advantage in a second set decider.
Aspinall closed out a scrappy third set to keep his hopes alive, and he then produced his best spell of the match to force a fifth and final set, taking out 104 and 100 finishes to maintain his revival.
Noppert looked to have stemmed the tide after storming 2-0 ahead in set five, but after squandering four match darts in leg three, his game unravelled in an action-packed conclusion.
The Dutchman took 13 darts to pin a starting double in an incredible final leg, and Aspinall took full advantage to hit tops and reach his second TV quarter-final of 2022.
Gerwyn Price 3-2 Joe Cullen (3-1, 0-3, 1-3, 3-0, 3-0)
Nathan Aspinall 3-2 Danny Noppert (2-3, 2-3, 3-1, 3-1, 3-2)
Friday October 7 (1900 BST)
Nathan Aspinall v Martin Lukeman
Gerwyn Price v Madars Razma
Peter Wright v Dimitri Van den Bergh
Michael van Gerwen v Chris Dobey
Images: Kieran Cleeves/PDC
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