Michael van Gerwen among four seeds to advance in World Matchplay
Last Updated: 19/07/15 7:54am
Top seed Michael van Gerwen is through to the second round of the World Matchplay after a 10-4 win over his fellow Dutchman Benito van de Pas in Blackpool.
And there were also first-round victories for Adrian Lewis, Peter Wright and Simon Whitlock on the first night of action at the Winter Gardens.
Van Gerwen is looking for his first ever Matchplay title and cruised to victory in his opener, taking seven legs in a row to ease into a 9-1 lead, before losing focus somewhat as the finishing line neared.
After a slightly scratchy start, Van Gerwen eased into top gear mid-match, taking out 116 and then finishing off 182 by hitting a maximum and then double-one!
He ended up with an average of 99.19 and accepts better will be needed if he is to go all the way.
Van Gerwen said: "Job done, I took advantage when he missed a couple of doubles. I want to win this tournament, that is what it is all about.
"I played OK for the first one but I have got a lot to improve. Last year I lost the final and I don't want to be in that position again."
The performance of the night came from fifth seed Peter Wright, who was hugely impressive in his 10-5 victory over the dangerous Kim Huybrechts.
World No 17 Huybrechts is the last person any of the seeds would have wanted to draw but Wright did not give him a chance, powering into a 6-0 lead.
Huybrechts showed a lot of heart to win five of the next seven and reduce his deficit to 8-5 but Wright’s standard was not dropping and he finished the match with finishes of 136 and then a sensational 161.
Wright averaged an extremely healthy 108.13 and will be a danger to all if he can maintain this form.
Eighth-seeded Aussie Whitlock has been on a poor run in the big TV events and was handed a tough opener against the in-form Jelle Klaasen.
But Whitlock has performed well on this stage in the past and reeled off the first five legs before romping to a 10-4 victory.
Whitlock, who averaged 98.45, said: "That was fantastic for me, I have not won a game on TV for a long time.
"Jelle has played amazing the last few months and I was very worried about this match but I kept my head and I love this stage. Last two years, I have made semis, quarters.
"To win is amazing and I am ecstatic about my game at the moment. I am playing really good darts."
Lewis is seeded fourth and looked in good shape as he eased into a 7-2 lead over Joe Murnan.
But the 2013 runner-up then lost his way a tad and Murnan, who impressed on his Matchplay debut, won four legs in a row.
However, Lewis held his nerve and claimed three of the next four to win 10-7 and secure his spot in round two.