It was back to winning ways for Michael van Gerwen on Thursday night.

The Dutchman suffered a shock defeat to Jeffrey de Zwaan in the third round of the UK Open. But van Gerwen dusted himself off, and claimed an important win at the First Direct Arena. His 7-4 success against Simon Whitlock was no straightforward affair. But, after a 110 checkout to level the match at 3-3, Mighty Mike took four of the next five legs to seal two points. Those points, plus Michael Smith’s defeat to Rob Cross, means he tops the league standings for the first time this season.

“I had to work, it wasn’t my best performance. I played OK, but I am not in my best form at the moment,” said the defending Premier League champion.

“Fortunately my B-game was enough tonight against Simon and I showed character, and sometimes you need that. I’m really pleased with the two points, but I know I can do better than that.”

Next up for the defending Premier League champion is a meeting with Gerwyn Price. Top will take on bottom in Nottingham, as the winless Welshman currently props up the table. Victory there will guarantee that van Gerwen maintains top spot, unless Smith can overcome the leg difference divide with a hefty win over Peter Wright.

Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

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Author: Edward McCosh