Jonny Clayton and Danny Noppert strengthened their World Grand Prix title credentials with sparkling displays as they progressed to the quarter-finals in Leicester last night.
Premier League champion Clayton came from a set down to defeat seventh seed Jose de Sousa 3-1, averaging 95 as he continued his challenge to claim a maiden televised ranking triumph.
Noppert, meanwhile, followed up Monday’s impressive win over Michael van Gerwen by seeing off another Dutchman, Vincent van der Voort, in straight sets.
Clayton now plays Krzysztof Ratajski in the last eight on Thursday, after the Polish ace’s 3-1 defeat of Rob Cross, while Ian White’s brilliant comeback from two sets down to defeat Darius Labanauskas moves him through to a tie with Noppert.
Welshman Clayton had found himself behind in his tie with Grand Slam of Darts winner De Sousa, who came from 2-1 down to win the first set in a deciding leg.
De Sousa also led in the second and then responded to a stunning ten-darter from Clayton with a 98 finish to force a deciding leg – only to see the world number 14 square the contest by taking out 70 in two darts.
Clayton then raced through set three with finishes of 60, 110 and 100, and took out 116 on his way to a two-leg lead in the fourth set.
De Sousa hit back with a 13-darter, but Clayton clinically wrapped up the win by completing a 12-dart leg with a 112 checkout – ending the tie with four ton-plus finishes and 11 doubles from just 17 attempts.
“I’m happy with that,” said Clayton. “I lost the first set to a class player so I had to dig deep.
“I broke him back in the second set and I did my job. It was good darts by both of us, I kept my nerve and got over the finishing line so I’m happy.
“I’m chasing a ranked event, and hopefully this is it so let’s see what happens. I’m going to try my best to get to the final and try and win it.
“Krzysztof is a class act and I’ve got to have my A game. Nobody’s afraid of anybody any more, so if we go out and do our job well, we’re hard to beat.”
Noppert opened with one in two of his starting doubles, and in a clinical finishing display had a checkout ratio almost double that of Van der Voort to progress to a tie with Ian White.
Van der Voort started the brighter with legs of 15 and 13 darts, only to see Noppert win the next three to claim the first set.
Noppert then took out 130 and 101 to lead 2-0 in set two, and responded to Van der Voort’s 87 checkout with a 12-darter to wrap up the set and double his advantage.
He opened set three with a 100 checkout as the pair shared the opening four legs, and when Van der Voort was unable to check out 134 in the decider, Noppert returned on double 11 to seal victory.
“I’m really happy with this performance,” said Noppert. “In the beginning I was a little bit nervous, but I got myself back and I played brilliant I think.
“I’ve won against two players who I watched when I was a kid, so I’m really happy. It was a tough game, and I didn’t expect it would be 3-0, but I took my chances.
“Ian White is a good player and I’m looking forward to every match. I’m enjoying it here and I’m confident.”
White won through to his third BoyleSports World Grand Prix quarter-final, completing a remarkable comeback from two sets down against Darius Labanauskas with victory in a sudden-death leg.
Lithuania’s Labanauskas had looked on course to claim a landmark win in his career after claiming the first six legs without reply to secure a two-set lead.
White, though, ignited his challenge with winning legs of 14, 15 and 12 darts as he took the third set 3-1, and also claimed the fourth by the same scoreline to level the tie.
Labanauskas’ break of throw with a 90 finish in the opening leg of the deciding set was cancelled out by a match-high 136 checkout for a 12-darter from White, who then moved 2-1 up.
Double ten saw the Lithuanian take the game all the way to a one-leg shoot-out, but White was first to a double and landed double eight at the first time of asking to complete a gutsy fightback.
“It’s unbelievable,” admitted White. “I couldn’t get going, and when I was two sets down and hadn’t won a leg, it was going to be a nightmare.
“I had to do something – I don’t know what happened, I think I hit a double and the crowd got on my side. I was dead and buried and the crowd helped me out.
“I’d love to win the tournament, that’s what we’re all here for, so fingers crossed.”
Krzysztof Ratajski won through to his first World Grand Prix quarter-final with a 3-1 success against Rob Cross, continuing his fine form in televised events this year.
Ratajski was a quarter-finalist in the World Championship and UK Open before reaching July’s World Matchplay semi-finals, and will now compete in the last eight in Leicester on Thursday.
The Polish star claimed the opening set without reply, breaking throw twice in a strong start to the contest, only for Cross to finish 87 and 106 as he took set two in the same manner.
Ratajski then won set three by a 3-1 scoreline, and landed three 14-darters in four legs in the next as he wrapped up the win.
“I feel great, really good,” said Ratajski, who also overcame Nathan Aspinall in round one. “Today I was a little nervous but I’m happy that I won.
“Rob is a great player and I knew it would be a very hard match, but we were both a little nervous. I expected more from Rob, it was a crazy game.
“This match showed me I must be more concentrated. In the last two years I lost my first match, but now I’ve won two and I hope I will win another.”
The quarter-finals will also feature reigning champion Gerwyn Price’s tantalising tie with Dave Chisnall and Stephen Bunting’s meeting with Ryan Searle.
Second Round Results: Ian White 3-2 Darius Labanauskas (0-3, 0-3, 3-1, 3-1, 3-2); Krzysztof Ratajski 3-1 Rob Cross (3-0, 0-3, 3-1, 3-1); Danny Noppert 3-0 Vincent van der Voort (3-2, 3-1, 3-2); Jonny Clayton 3-1 Jose de Sousa (2-3, 3-2, 3-0, 3-1)