World Grand Prix – Day Four Preview

The second round at the Grand Prix concludes this evening with the four matches from the top half of the draw.

Here are my previews.

norris-v-whitlock

Norris

  • Norris had to come from behind to defeat number 8 seed Michael Smith in round one. Norris came through despite his opponent having darts to win 11 of the 13 legs they played.
  • Although Norris struggled with his overall finishing against Smith it was mainly thanks to two vital combination checkouts that he won the match, a 156 finish in the deciding leg of the 2nd set and then a 136 against throw in the final set proved crucial.
  • Norris was slow to adapt to the double start but when he found his range later in the match he was very proficient in getting off, in the final 5 legs of the match he hit the starting double with his 1st dart on 4 occasions.
  • He is trying to get through to his 2nd PDC TV ranking tournament quarter-final, having previously reached the last 8 at the last World Championships.

Whitlock

  • Whitlock was yet another player who had to come from behind in the first round, after losing the opening set 3-1 he recovered to win 6 out of the next 7 legs which gave him the win.
  • Both Whitlock and Cullen struggled on their finishing doubles in their round one match missing a total of 46 darts at double between them to close out legs. A 135 checkout for Whitlock to break the Cullen throw in the 2nd leg of the final set was only the second time Whitlock checked out with his first dart in the whole match.
  • A win would give him only his 2nd Grand Prix quarter-final appearance, matching his run to the last 8 in 2013. Last year at this stage of the tournament he was beaten 3-0 by Suljovic.
  • He has only reached one TV ranking quarter-final in his last 12 TV ranking tournaments.

Head to Head (No previous meetings)

This is the first time they have faced one another.

Verdict

Both players have plenty of improving to do on their first round performances, especially in their finishing where they might well have been punished for too many missed attempts. To give them credit they did step up and hit some key combinations at critical moments though. I’m expecting a streaky match with each having periods where they struggle to hit a starting double and then go on to have a string of legs where they hardly miss a thing. I think this has the potential to go the full 5 sets, I wouldn’t be backing either player but if pushed I would just lean towards a Whitlock win.

 

dolan-v-chisnall

Dolan

  • Dolan impressively came through 2-0 against Peter Wright in round one, in a match that didn’t get finished until after midnight.
  • Most aspects of Dolan’s game were good against Wright in a very consistent performance, he started effectively, scored well and he finished efficiently. Wright himself wasn’t at his best and only had darts at a double in the 3 legs he won
  • His win against Wright was his first at the Grand Prix since 2012 when he reached the semi-finals.
  • Overall of the 3 Last 16 matches he has played at the Grand Prix he has won 2 and lost 1 (all 3 matches finished 3-1).
  • A win would give Dolan his first TV ranking quarter-final since March 2014 at the UK Open and only his second since he reached the semis here in 2012.

Chisnall

  • Chisnall came from behind to beat Robbie Green in round one, having lost the opening set he broke the Green throw 3 times in the 2nd set and went on to win the 3rd set 3-1.
  • It was a very mixed performance from Chisnall against Green especially on his starting doubles. In the first 7 legs he failed to get away within his first 3 darts on 4 occasions, but in the last 6 legs he only needed a total of 8 darts to hit a starting double and had a run of 4 legs where he hit 120+ at the start of the leg.
  • This is his 4th appearance in the Last 16 at the Grand Prix. He has lost 2 of the previous 3; the only time he got further than this round was in 2013 when he reached the final. Last year he lost 3-2 to Jelle Klaasen at this stage of the tournament.
  • A win here would mean he has reached consecutive TV ranking quarter-finals for only the 2nd time in his PDC career. The last time was in 2013 when he backed up a quarter-final appearance at the Matchplay with a run to the final of the Grand Prix. Can he repeat this in 2016?

Head to Head (Chisnall leads 4-1)

Chisnall has won each of their last 4 meetings; Dolan’s only win came in March 2013 at a UK Open qualifier in a last leg decider. They haven’t met since June 2015 and this is their first ever encounter in a major TV tournament.

Verdict

Dolan and Chisnall both have the experience of reaching the final of this tournament but they haven’t been consistent in the latter stage of the event. Dolan has struggled for form in the last couple of years but his performance in round one was impressive as was his first round win at the Matchplay in July. There is no doubt that Chisnall comes into the match as favourite but it depends if the Chisnall of the first half of his match against Green turns up or the Chisnall who really stepped it up in the second half. Dolan certainly can’t be written off easily and he can make it difficult for Chisnall. I think Chizzy will get through but he might have to go the full 5 sets to do so.

 

west-v-gurney

West

  • West took the prize scalp of the 11 time World Grand Prix winner Phil Taylor in round one. West recovered from losing the opening set to claim the biggest upset of the tournament so far this year.
  • His finishing against Taylor was formidable; it took him 7 out of his 10 attempts at a double to win legs. Significant checkouts were 2x 101 finishes during set 2, especially one in the final leg of that 2nd set
  • This is his World Grand Prix debut year and equals his best run in a PDC TV ranking tournament, matching his Last 16 appearance at the 2013 UK Open.

Gurney

  • Gurney came through a tough match against a tricky opponent in round one; he defeated Mensur Suljovic 2-1 in a game that went to a last leg decider.
  • He did nearly pay the price for some missed doubles against Suljovic but was thankful that his opponent himself was off his range on his finishing doubles. On the upside Gurney was in good form on his 180 hitting, managing a total of 5 during the match.
  • The win against Suljovic was his first on the World Grand Prix stage following two first round defeats.
  • This is only his 2nd appearance in the Last 16 of a PDC TV ranking tournament; the previous time was at the Players Championship Finals last December when he defeated Gary Anderson in the Last 16 on his way to the semi-finals.

Head to Head (No previous meetings)

This is the first time they have faced one another.

Verdict

West and Gurney upset the odds in round one to set up this match. West in particular had a fantastic win against Phil Taylor and anything else in this tournament is a huge bonus now. Gurney showed good form at the weekend in a Players Championship tournament and brought his confidence into the match against Suljovic. In terms of their first round performances, West definitely had the edge in terms of finishing and he scored well when he got away in legs if he keeps up that level he has a chance. Gurney will have to raise his level from the win against Suljovic but I think he will be better for having got through the first round for the first time. It’s a huge opportunity for both players to make the Last 8 of a big TV ranking tournament and there are bound to be some nervy moments. I make Gurney a small favourite but certainly wouldn’t write Steve West off; this could genuinely go either way with a possibility of a good number of 180’s.

 

van-gerwen-v-wilson

van Gerwen

  • In round one van Gerwen faced a big test after losing the opening set to Steve Beaton but he responded in true champion fashion, winning 6 straight legs to come through 2-1.
  • In those final 2 sets van Gerwen hit his starting double with the first dart 5 out of 6 times and he hit his finishing double 5 out of 6 also, he allowed Beaton only 1 dart at a finishing double in the entire final 2 sets.
  • MVG hasn’t failed to reach the quarter-finals since he made his debut back in 2009. He has won 4 times in the Last 16, 3 of those by a 3-1 score and the other match finished 3-0.
  • Since losing in the Last 16 of the Players Championship Finals in 2012 he has only failed to get past the Last 16 in 2 of his last 22 TV ranking tournaments.

Wilson

  • Wilson trailed by 1 set and 2 legs to 1 against Mick McGowan in round one and it was McGowan who had the throw in the 4th leg of that 2nd Wilson managed to survive and won 5 legs in a row to take his place in round two.
  • He really raised his level in the closing stage against McGowan seeing out the match with 11 and 12 dart legs. Overall he hit over 53% of his finishing doubles and scored 5x 180’s during the game.
  • This is only his 3rd PDC TV ranking tournament and having only reached the Last 32 of his previous 2 (both at the UK Open) this is already his best performance.

Head to Head (van Gerwen leads 3-0)

All 3 of their previous meetings were played during 2016 and all 3 went the way of van Gerwen. They met twice in the latter stages of ranking tournaments during September with van Gerwen winning 6-2 in a quarter-final and 6-3 in a final.

Verdict

World number one van Gerwen was given a little scare against Beaton but the way he responded was so impressive and has really shown his intentions for this tournament. Wilson certainly ended his match against McGowan well and as he has been proving on the tour recently he is a man very much with form and confidence on his side. Wilson is a good scorer and won’t be a pushover but I feel the better he plays the better van Gerwen will play; his game will give MVG something to feed off. I’m hoping and expecting Wilson to give a really good account of himself but it’s a massive task trying to defeat van Gerwen and I don’t think Wilson will do it this time.

 

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