I just have to begin today's blog with Mark Webster.
Did anyone not feel desperately sorry for the young (he's my age - I have to say he's young :o) ) Welshman? Six darts to win his match against Gary Anderson 5-1, which was exactly what he needed to replace Wayne Jones in the next round, and which no one (honestly - did you?) thought he had a snowball in hell's chance of doing against the Flying Scot, and he missed them all before Anderson sneaked in with double top. A 5-2 victory would have put Webster and Jones into a 9 dart shoot out for the final place, but so gutted was he that he lost the next leg as well, before finally closing out the match 5-3, with no hope of progressing to the next round.
I felt for him, I really did. He just looked like he was going to weep at any moment. In the final leg you could see that all he wanted to do was get off the stage. "I just want to give him a hug" was my girlfriend's reaction; that was her reaction to James Wade too, though probably for different reasons - grrrr!
Find that match on Youtube, and show it to anyone who doubts that darts is a sport that requires not only immense physical skill but also terrific mental strength.
Next match I'll mention was King-Henderson. The big Scot took King right down to the wire before losing 5-4, with both players throwing some great darts, but what made this match most notable was Mervyn King's mood. You could see something upset him big time - he had words with the referee - and given the look on his face at one point I wasn't betting on Henderson actually leaving the stage alive. No one was quite sure what Hendo did to earn King's remarkable ire, though (perceived) encroachment on the oche while King was throwing may have been the cause. At the end, King had words with Hendo, gave him the most perfunctory handshake imagineable and stalked off the stage with a face that would scare thunder witless.
In the post-match interview King kept schtum about the reasons for his anger, but did talk quite movingly about the recent loss of his father and the effect it has had on him. I'm sure we all remember King senior sitting in the audience with a crown on his head, and jokingly describing Mervyn as the "second best darts player in the family"; King senior was a great character and anyone could see how truly proud he was of his son's achievements. I hope King can come to terms with his loss, get back on form and carry on making his father proud. All the best to him.
I'm afraid I haven't time today to write up every match; I have so many deadlines concentrated into a brief space of time that it is warping the space time continuum, and if I don't get my finger out it will actually destroy the Universe. A full write up can be found here.
I will talk about about James Wade v. Vincent van der Voort, however, because a) it was a terrific match, and b) it's more than my life's worth to pass over a match with James Wade in, for reasons which have already been alluded to :o)
Wade started off brilliantly, and the machine gunner Dutchman had to dig deep just to go in 3-1 at the break. Vincent then made a bit of a comeback, with some great shooting, including a magnificent 156 checkout, levelling the odds at 4-4 before Wade finally prevailed in the decider.
Wade didn't seem too happy with his form, and he hasn't played on top form so far this tournament, but he showed some cracking form in that last match and I think he was being a bit hard on himself.
Should be some great darts this evening, including a Taylor-Newton shoot out. Question is: will the Power still be wearing his specs? :o)