Michael van Gerwen suffers first-round exit at World Matchplay to Jeffrey de Zwaan
Van Gerwen's hopes of succeeding the legendary Phil Taylor as the king of the World Matchplay crumbles to fellow Dutchman de Zwaan
By Raz Mirza at The Winter Gardens, Blackpool
Last Updated: 22/07/18 11:37am
World No 1 Michael van Gerwen suffered one of the biggest shocks in World Matchplay history after being knocked out by emerging star Jeffrey de Zwaan on Saturday night in Blackpool.
Two-time former champion Van Gerwen was aiming to make it a hat-trick of triumphs in Blackpool, but he was sent packing by giantkiller De Zwaan 10-6 in the opening round.
At world No 68 De Zwaan was the lowest-ranked player in the tournament. He claimed a famous victory when they last met in the UK Open earlier this year and he followed that up by sealing a sensational double over his fellow countryman at the famous Winter Gardens.
"I really don't believe it, I played really well and the confidence was there," De Zwaan told Sky Sports.
"I said to myself, 'keep going, keep pushing'. I just wanted to play my game and see what happens."
Van Gerwen, who crashed out at the quarter-final stage here last year, had De Zwaan hanging on to his coattails at 5-5.
The 29-year-old hit a ton finish to hold throw, but De Zwaan responded with a cool 121 before nailing D19 for an 8-6 lead.
De Zwaan hit tops to win the next leg and he held his nerve to sink D16 and complete a sensational victory.
Only two-time winner Van Gerwen and 2007 champion James Wade have previously tasted victory at the historic Winter Gardens from this year's 32-player field - but the Dutchman's defeat has blown the tournament wide open.
De Zwaan will next take on 2013 finalist Adrian Lewis after he battled back to defeat James Wilson 10-7.
Lewis, who picked up the 16th seeding after moving back up the rankings this year, came good against Huddersfield' Wilson after looking on the verge of an early exit.
The Stoke-on-Trent thrower was pegged back to 2-2 before he landed a showstopping double top, double top finish to take out a ton.
All looked positive for Lewis until Wilson hit back with an 86 checkout to break again and he soon won his fifth leg on the spin with D8 to move 7-3 up. Lewis stopped the rot with a neat 82 finish, while Wilson, nicknamed 'Lethal Biscuit' crumbled under pressure.
'Jackpot' won seven out of the next eight legs, finishing the contest with a stunning 116 to reach the next round.
"I felt a bit nervous tonight because I've not played on TV for seven months," said Lewis.
"When I was 7-3 down I knew I had to find something and I did that. James was fantastic in the first ten legs, I didn't quite have my rhythm at times but I sped up towards the end and got the job done.
"I've been feeling the pressure in first round games all year so it's a relief to get through and hopefully I can push on now."
Michael Smith averaged 97.43, sinking six maximums on his way to a 10-7 success against Jonny Clayton to set up a meeting with Dave Chisnall.
"I kept letting Jonny back in and it was a bit of a struggle, but I'm still in," said Smith, the 2018 Premier League finalist. "I didn't play my best but I ground out the victory.
"I felt like I was a bit dodgy but I'm glad to get over the line and get the win, and I'm looking forward to Tuesday."
Four-time quarter-finalist Chisnall produced a 63 per cent checkout success rate to dump out former World Youth Champion Keegan Brown.
'Chizzy' sunk a 148 in the sixth leg before landing a majestic 147 in the next to take a 4-3 lead. He then stepped on the afterburners to complete a comprehensive 10-4 win.
"It was tricky and it's never easy to play Keegan," said Chisnall. "The 148 was a big turning point because he was on a double, and I think from then his head went down.
"I've got to play a lot better but I've done a lot of practise in the last couple of weeks and it's worked."
The prestigious event sees 32 players competing for £500,000 in prize money, including a first prize of £115,000 for the winner along with the newly-titled Phil Taylor Trophy.
Join us for further coverage of the World Matchplay, when 16-time champion Phil Taylor will be with part of the Sky Sports team on Sunday, July 22 for a double session of tungsten at 1pm & 7.30pm on Sky Sports Action. The darts will run through to the final on Sunday, July 29.
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