World Grand Prix – Day Four (Wednesday) Preview

It’s the conclusion of the Last 16 round at the World Grand Prix tonight. This is the section of the draw that has seen both Phil Taylor and James Wade make early exits from the tournament.
With Adrian Lewis, Peter Wright, Dave Chisnall, Stephen Bunting, Raymond van Barneveld and Kim Huybrechts also out there are only two of the 10 Premier League players from 2015 left (those players are MVG & Anderson).

Onto the previews for tonight’s matches – some very tough games to call amongst them.

Thornton vs Pipe

Thornton was very impressive in his opening match against Gurney, his finishing in particular was a big strength, he checked out 5 of his 6 legs won with his first dart and never lost in a leg in which he had a double. On the down side he did have 3 legs in the match where he failed to get away with within his first 3 darts to start a leg. Overall though, it was a very competent performance and up there with the best in the opening round.

Pipe’s game against Beaton saw him really struggle in the opening set losing it 3-0 and looking like he was exiting a major tournament at an early stage once again. You have to give him credit for the way he raised his game for the last set and a half to turn things around, back to back 13 darters ensured he won the 2nd set and back to back ton plus checkouts in the first two legs of the decider put him in control. All in all he won 5 of the final 6 legs and didn’t miss a double in any of those legs.

Verdict
The two players have faced off a number of times over the last 6 years with Thornton having the edge leading 8-4. Since the start of 2014 they have shared 2 wins each though. Their most significant meeting has to be in the first round of last year’s World Grand Prix, Thornton won that game 2-0 and it was a game in Pipe really struggled to hit the starting doubles (he had 33 attempts to 17 from Thornton).

Thornton has the advantage on their current form and a further positive having beaten Pipe in this tournament last season. He is very much a confidence player and if his doubles start going in early he will take some shifting. Pipe will be better for having broken his hoodoo of not winning a game in a TV major ranking event for quite a while but I think a confident Thornton has too much belief to slip up and will tip a 3-1 win for the Thorn.

Suljovic vs Whitlock

What wasn’t there to admire about the performance of Suljovic in the opening round? He was on the ropes against James Wade who was playing inspired darts but Suljovic managed to keep with him and turn the tables. Wade had won the first set and went 1-0 in the second with an 11 darter, only for Mensur to reel off 6 legs in a row, including 3 ton plus checkouts 5 straight legs where he checked out with his first darts at the double, Wade only had one attempt at a double in those final 6 legs. The will to win of Suljovic, his competitiveness the effort put into every dart, the whole fact the he sticks to his unorthodox finishes and trusty double 14 shows he is confident in his own game and has the belief to back it up.

Whitlock came through easily in his first round match against what was a very out of sorts Andrew Gilding who struggled in most areas, his start, scoring and finishing. Whitlock to his credit did start the legs well on his starting doubles but he did miss too many doubles to finish legs off and against a more confident opponent who know how the game would have panned out. A win was important to Whitlock no matter how it came but I still need to see more from him if he is to convince he can be a contender.

Verdict
This will be their fourth meeting and Suljovic is looking for his first positive result against Whitlock having lost all three times they have played. It is worth mentioning that the last meeting was back in September 2013 when Whitlock was playing good darts and Suljovic wasn’t playing on tour as regularly as he is now so how much we can read into these results isn’t clear.

The bookies have Whitlock as favourite and although he does have more pedigree he hasn’t performed consistently well on the big stage for a while, at the Matchplay he followed up a decent first round win with a lacklustre second game. Suljovic is certainly no stranger to the big stage, having beaten some of the World’s top players on and off the TV. He is a player who I have admired for a number of years. I think there has to be some value on Suljovic in this match, either just backing him to win the match or placing a bet on him to win 3-1 and also 3-2.

van der Voort vs Jenkins

Vincent van der Voort gave one of the performances of the first round when he eliminated Phil Taylor 2-0 with both sets going to the deciding leg, on his starting doubles he managed to get away without too much fuss, his scoring kept Taylor under pressure too. Although van der Voort did take out the crucial finishing doubles it has to be mentioned that Taylor did miss chances, and Vincent’s final checkout percentage of 33% will have to improve you would think.

Jenkins was involved in a tough battle against Mervyn King in his opening game. Jenkins came from 2-0 behind in the 1st set to take it 3-2, King levelled the match taking the 2nd set 3-2. The final set was very impressive from Jenkins he won it 3-0 with legs of 12, 14 & 15 darts. Only twice in the whole 13 legs did Jenkins take more than 2 darts to hit a starting double, his checkout stats were good also at 57%.

Verdict
In 20 previous meetings between the two players Jenkins has the lead 12-8 and van der Voort has won their last 3 encounters. They have only played once in the last 3 years though, that was in September 2014 at a pro tour event. They have played 5 times on the main TV stage with Jenkins winning 4 of those, including 2-0 at the 2010 World Grand Prix in the first round.

With both Phil Taylor and James Wade out of the tournament this quarter of the draw is wide open, Jenkins has taken advantage of this situation before, having reached the final of so many major tournament he has the know how without doubt. Vincent has also reached the final of a major tournament (he actually beat Jenkins 11-10 at the UK Open in 2007 on his way to the final) and is in no way a rookie on the big stage. I really do think this game could go either way; I would make Jenkins the small favourite. My two selections for betting purposes are over 7.5 180’s in the match and also over 4.5 sets in the match.

Anderson vs White

I was really impressed with the way Anderson handled his opening match against John Henderson. Anderson had just seen Phil Taylor and James Wade exit the tournament and he really made a statement that he is the man to beat in this half of the draw. Anderson averaged close to 98 but to put this into context he actually only hit the starting double with his first dart on two occasions so that shows how good he was with his scoring when he did get away and he had a checkout percentage of 50%.

Ian White came through against Jamie Caven 2-0 in the first round. White did what he needed to do to win the match but Caven’s scoring didn’t put White under enough pressure and White did score steadily after hitting the starting double. White remains a danger to anyone in the tournament if he plays to his potential.

Verdict
Just looking at their head to head you will see Anderson leading 7-3 but they are 2-2 over the last 4 meetings and White won their last game in a big tournament when he eliminated Anderson 9-7 in the 2014 UK Open, that match was quite a high quality game and White outscored Anderson 6-4 on the 180’s.

This could be classed at the potential match of the night with White showing great form which hasn’t just been recently and looking more and more a threat on the big stage. Anderson is the World Champion and Premier League Champion and looks determined in this tournament to add to his list of majors. If Anderson turns up and plays his top game he wins but White has the capability to punish Anderson if he has the chances. The pace of the game will suit both players but crucially it could be Anderson who benefits the most. I’m just going to sit back and enjoy what should be a quality match. In terms of betting I think White +1.5 on the handicap and also over 7.5 180’s may be worth looking at in this game.

Hope you enjoy my previews for tonight. Enjoy the darts!

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