James Wade paid tribute to his own hard work after beating Simon Whitlock in the first round of the Masters.

2014 Masters champion Wade opened his account in Milton Keynes with a 10-8 win over the Australian. The Machine averaged just short of 96 and had a 50 per cent success rate on the doubles. Though he admitted his opponent was sub-par, the Aldershot southpaw claimed to be pleased overall.

“I’m happy I won. Simon didn’t play as well as he should have done but I was steady and did enough to win,” Wade said.

“I’ve put a lot of hard work in and adjusted my throw a little bit. My throw has dropped six to eight inches and for the last month I’ve worked hard on my game.

“I just want to do what I know I can do. I’m excited about my darts and I can look forward to tomorrow.”

On Sunday afternoon, the ninth seed will take on world number one Michael van Gerwen. Wade issued a passionate defence of the Dutchman in an ITV interview. In a surprise outburst, he claimed that van Gerwen’s achievements are not being respected.

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Author: Edward McCosh