There’s plenty to look forward to as the International Darts Open second round draws to a close.
The most appealing match of the Saturday evening session might well be the first one. Dimitri van den Bergh started his International Darts Open run with a solid performance, beating Adam Hunt 6-3. The Belgian has the ability to go a long way in Riesa. He’ll give Ricky Evans plenty of food for thought, though ‘Rapid’ will himself be targeting an improvement on the last 16 and quarter-final managed in his last two European Tour outings.
Thanks to Michael van Gerwen and Dave Chisnall dropping out, Jamie Hughes is seeded. The Czech Darts Open champion’s first assignment is sending Steve West packing. That’s followed by Steffen Siepmann aiming to continue a fairytale Riesa run into Sunday’s play. Jonny Clayton will be the huge favourite, but the German crowd will loudly back the underdog.
Jeffrey de Zwaan may have been expecting a second round meeting with Jelle Klaasen. The Black Cobra will be used to surprises, though – he wasn’t even a seed for the International Darts Open this time last week. Joe Murnan fought hard and won; he’ll try to push the Dutch youngster all the way on Saturday.
Cullen goes for a double
Even if his beloved Manchester United aren’t troubling the trophy engravers right now, Joe Cullen finds himself firmly in the winner’s circle. A massively talented player, victory at the European Darts Matchplay might open the floodgates. He can keep the momentum going for at least another day if he can overcome Davy van Baelen. The Belgian had a dream debut yesterday, thrashing Ole Luckow 6-0 with a 103.66 average.
We know that there’ll be a purely English last 16 match at the International Darts Open. The winner of Jamie Hughes’ tie against Steve West will play Ian White or Richard North. What this lacks in exoticism, it makes up for in intrigue; White is top seed and a de facto favourite, North a man looking for a big payday after sneaking past Boris Koltsov. White versus Hughes would be an intriguing Sunday showdown, but any combination would be well-received.
22-year-old Harry Ward is into the Saturday of a European Tour event for the first time. If he wants to see Sunday, the youngster will have to see off veteran Mensur Suljovic. The winner of that game plays the winner of the session’s last match. Peter Wright will try to do what Davyd Venken couldn’t, and beat Ritchie Edhouse in Riesa.
International Darts Open schedule
Saturday evening session
18:15 Ricky Evans v Dimitri van den Bergh
18:45 Jamie Hughes v Steve West
19:15 Jonny Clayton v Steffan Siepmann
19:45 Jeffrey de Zwaan v Joe Murnan
20:15 Joe Cullen v Davy van Baelen
20:45 Ian White v Richard North
21:15 Mensur Suljovic v Harry Ward
21:45 Peter Wright v Ritchie Edhouse
Author: Ed McCosh