Van Gerwen Overcomes Spirited Suljovic Challenge

Michael van Gerwen continued his bid for a fourth Cazoo World Darts Championship title with victory over an inspired Mensur Suljovic, as Michael Smith battled back to deny Martin Schindler on an epic day of third-round action on Wednesday.

Van Gerwen was the headline attraction on Day 11 at Alexandra Palace, and the three-time World Champion survived a major scare against Suljovic, despite posting a stunning 107.66 average and landing a dozen 180s.

The Dutchman came through a gripping opening stanza with a 110 average, before recovering from 2-0 down in set two to double his lead, reeling off three straight legs in 37 darts courtesy of 101, 81 and 64 finishes.

Suljovic maintained his ton-plus average to halve the deficit in set three and despite Van Gerwen’s sustained brilliance, the Austrian appeared poised to level at 2-2 until the Dutchman fired in a superb 12-darter to move 3-1 ahead.

The fifth set also went the distance, and after Van Gerwen refused the option of going for the bull on a 121 combination to complete a 4-1 success, Suljovic conjured up an astonishing 161 skin-saver to reduce the arrears to 3-2.

However, the Austrian was punished for spurning three darts at double to hold throw midway through set six, and Van Gerwen took full advantage, pinning double four before crashing in a 14-darter to close out a classic.

“For a good game, you need two good dart players. I think Mensur was phenomenal and he deserves a lot of credit,” said Van Gerwen, who will play Dirk van Duijvenbode or Ross Smith for a place in the last eight.

“I feel really comfortable, I feel good, and to win the way I did, that gives me extra motivation and confidence.

“If you want to win this tournament you have to battle through all circumstances and it gives me pleasure winning games like this. There could only be one winner and that was me luckily.”

Thursday’s action will see the remaining third-round ties take place, with 2018 World Champion Rob Cross and fifth seed Luke Humphries among the names in action.

World number one Price then kicks off the last 16 action against De Sousa on Thursday evening, before Jonny Clayton and World Youth Champion Josh Rock lock horns for a place in the quarter-finals.

2022/23 Cazoo World Darts Championship
Wednesday December 28
Afternoon Session
3x Third Round
Jose de Sousa 4-3 Ryan Searle (1-3, 2-3, 1-3, 3-2, 3-2, 3-1, 3-1)
Alan Soutar 4-2 Danny Noppert (1-3, 0-3, 3-1, 3-0, 3-1, 3-0)
Chris Dobey 4-1 Gary Anderson (0-3, 3-2, 3-2, 3-2, 3-1)

Evening Session
3x Third Round
Joe Cullen 4-0 Damon Heta (3-2, 3-1, 3-2, 3-0)
Michael van Gerwen 4-2 Mensur Suljovic (3-2, 3-2, 1-3, 3-2, 2-3, 3-1)
Michael Smith 4-3 Martin Schindler (2-3, 3-0, 2-3, 1-3, 3-2, 3-1, 3-1)

Thursday December 29
Afternoon Session (1230 GMT)
3x Third Round
Dirk van Duijvenbode v Ross Smith
Rob Cross v Mervyn King
Dave Chisnall v Stephen Bunting

Evening Session (1900 GMT)
1x Third Round, 2x Fourth Round
Luke Humphries v Vincent van der Voort (R3)
Gerwyn Price v Jose de Sousa (R4)
Jonny Clayton v Josh Rock (R4)

Friday December 30
Afternoon Session (1230 GMT)
3x Fourth Round
Kim Huybrechts v Dimitri Van den Bergh
Gabriel Clemens v Alan Soutar
Michael Smith v Joe Cullen

Evening Session (1900 GMT)
3x Fourth Round
Rob Cross/Mervyn King v Chris Dobey
Michael van Gerwen v Dirk van Duijvenbode/Ross Smith
Luke Humphries/Vincent van der Voort v Dave Chisnall/Stephen Bunting

—–ENDS—–

Images: Simon O’Connor/PDC

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