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17 Aug 2022

Peter Wright goes the distance before seeing off Krzysztof Ratajski in Blackpool

Peter Wright goes the distance before seeing off Krzysztof Ratajski in Blackpool

Peter Wright edged out Krzysztof Ratajski in a thrilling tie-break to keep the defence of his World Matchplay title on course by reaching the quarter-finals in Blackpool.

Wright, wearing a hypnotic swirl themed shirt and matching head paint, opened up in great form with a nine-dart chance in the fifth leg, but hit single 20 with his seventh throw before checking out in 11.

‘Snakebite’ appeared in total control after heading into the interval with a 4-1 lead which – after a 125 checkout around the bullseye – was soon extended to 7-3, only for world number 16 Ratajski to regroup with a run of legs which pulled him level.

The contest remained on throw, both players trading maximums in the 18th leg, before Ratajski – a semi-finalist 12 months ago – missed three darts at 36 which would have put him ahead for the first time on the night.

With a chance to secure victory against the throw, Wright landed two 180s – but failed to close out three chances to win himself as the Polish Eagle recovered to level at 10-10 and force the tie-break.

Wright again moved within a leg of victory and took out 58 to finally see off Ratajski 13-11 to stay on track for another triumph at the Winter Gardens.

James Wade’s hopes of landing another World Matchplay title, however, are over after he was edged out 11-9 by Nathan Aspinall.

Wade, fifth on the PDC Order of Merit, had started brightly, opening up a 2-0 lead with an early break before Aspinall, twice a World Championship semi-finalist, took the next four.

There remained little between the pair, with ‘The Machine’ Wade gaining some momentum at 7-5 before a 13-darter from Aspinall tied the match again.

A third maximum and 82 checkout saw Aspinall moving to within one leg of victory at 10-8 before finishing the job on his next throw.

In Tuesday night’s opening match, Dimitri Van Den Bergh, the 2020 champion, ended the run of Austrian debutant Rowby-John Rodriguez with an 11-6 win.

Rodriguez had pulled off a shock result to knock out Welsh number eight seed Jonny Clayton in the opening round, but came up short against his friend Van Den Bergh.

The Belgian averaged 98.62, hitting six maximums, and landed a fine 146 checkout to seal his victory and a place in the last eight where he will face Wright.

Tuesday’s late game saw Michael Van Gerwen defeat Joe Cullen 11-7.

Dutchman Van Gerwen had edged out Cullen in the Premier League final and soon opened up a 4-1 lead.

Cullen, though, closed the gap with a break of his own to trail 6-4 at the mid-session interval.

Van Gerwen, out to land a first major ranking tournament win since 2020, stepped things up again to close out a comfortable win and next faces Aspinall for a place in the semi-finals.

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