There’s no such thing as a lazy Sunday afternoon for the players battling for their Grand Slam of Darts futures.
The first session of day two in Wolverhampton brings back Groups E-H. The eight players who lost their opening games all partake in the first half of the session. Then come the eight winners, with places in the knockout stages beckoning for some and an early Grand Slam exit awaiting others.
Group F up for grabs
Without a doubt, Richard Veenstra is the player with the most to prove. The Dutchman was woeful against Daryl Gurney, posting the lowest average of the day. Brendan Dolan will be licking his wounds after a tussle with Gabriel Clemens quickly got away from him. It’s very hard to imagine Veenstra bouncing back to scupper the History Maker.
Wayne Warren was eventually outclassed by Peter Wright, but will have been encouraged by what happened in the other Group F match. Danny Noppert was unimpressive against Ryan Harrington, failing to break throw even once. The former BDO world finalist is there for the taking, and this group could yet open up for the Welshman.
Hughes under pressure
Lisa Ashton will be bitterly disappointed by how things fell away against Rob Cross. Like in her World Championship defeat to Jan Dekker, a blistering start to her Grand Slam debut wasn’t capitalised upon. She can put that right at the next stop in her tour of this group of death. Jamie Hughes’ hopes now hang by a thread after missed opportunities cost him against Dave Chisnall. Defeat to the four-time world champion would send the Tipton star on the very short trip home, metaphorically speaking.
Martin Schindler was blown away by Nathan Aspinall; however, it’s not like the German didn’t have chances. It’s his wastefulness that will be most concerning as he heads into a do-or-die meeting with Glen Durrant. Duzza wasn’t at his scintillating best against Michael Smith. He knows his meeting with Aspinall will be decisive for his Grand Slam ambitions, but has to dispatch the group’s outsider first.
Gurney faces stiff test
Daryl Gurney had the easiest Grand Slam opening he could’ve hoped for against Richard Veenstra. He’ll get the opposite when Gabriel Clemens joins him on the Wolverhampton stage. A 99 average on Saturday showed what Clemens can do, and there’s a good chance that he could win this group, which would really put the cat among the pigeons. Especially if Dolan beats Veenstra as you’d expect – an all-Northern Irish showdown would be a treat.
Ryan Harrington is now in the box seat in Group F. Beating Danny Noppert will have settled the nerves down. And for the Englishman, a meeting with Peter Wright is essentially a free hit. Notch up three or four legs, and his future remains in his own hands. Wright, meanwhile, needs to shore up his finishing if he’s to make a dent in the Grand Slam.
More Smith-Aspinall fireworks?
When Michael Smith meets Nathan Aspinall, the treble 20 is the one who suffers. Their games tend to be crackers, with the possible disappointing exception of their Premier League clash in Nottingham. In the West Midlands as opposed to in the East, the pair have the previous day’s form to build on. If only Smith had struck that nine-darter. We wouldn’t have seen it, but I’m sure the replays would’ve been excellent.
Rob Cross was ruffled early on against Lisa Ashton, but showed steady consistency to steer himself towards victory. That ability to grind down and punish opponents is the mark of a champion. Cross believes he can win the Grand Slam, and why not? Few will doubt his credentials. One man hoping to douse the flame of optimism is Dave Chisnall. A similarly professional job did for Jamie Hughes, and now the Grand Prix finalist can try and snare a win that could secure him top spot in the fiercely competitive Group E.
Grand Slam of Darts 2019, Day Two
Afternoon session schedule
13:00 Brendan Dolan v Richard Veenstra (G)
13:30 Danny Noppert v Wayne Warren (F)
14:00 Jamie Hughes v Lisa Ashton (E)
14:30 Martin Schindler v Glen Durrant (H)
15:00 Daryl Gurney v Gabriel Clemens (G)
15:30 Peter Wright v Ryan Harrington (F)
16:00 Michael Smith v Nathan Aspinall (H)
16:30 Rob Cross v Dave Chisnall (E)
Author: Ed McCosh