World Matchplay 2021: Luke Humphries dazzles to knock out James Wade in the first round
On a baking hot Sunday afternoon in Blackpool, ‘Cool Hand’ Luke Humphries caused the biggest shock of the 2021 World Matchplay, beating world No 4 James Wade with a sensational display at the Winter Gardens.
Two-time world youth champion Humphries marked his Blackpool debut with one of his very best displays to beat The Machine.
Only Phil Taylor has reached more than Wade’s six Matchplay finals and the 2007 champion was highly-fancied for a run on the tournament’s return to its iconic home on the Lancashire coast but Humphries put paid to that.
The 26-year-old had been beaten by Wade in his first major final earlier this year at the UK Open, but he had his revenge and fired eight maximums alongside a 101 average and a 10-3 victory that saw The Machine beaten in the first round of this event for just the third time.
After all four seeds swept through on Saturday night, Wade joined Glen Durrant in becoming the second big name to fall after Duzza was beaten by Callan Rydz – another youngster enjoying his debut on the Blackpool stage.
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World M,atchplay 2021: Sunday Afternoon’s first round results
Sensational Humphries batters Wade
Luke Humphries underlined his liking for the TV stage with a brilliant 10-3 victory over James Wade that saw him into the second round and Wade’s hopes of a second Matchplay crowd dashed.
Humphries has enjoyed a great year on the PDC Tour, reaching three finals, including the UK Open where he was beaten by Wade, who entered this week in Blackpool as the most experienced man in the field.
In contrast, Humphries was making his first appearance in the tournament, but he settled instantly, breaking the Wade throw and backing up with a classy 76 that gave him an early 2-0 advantage.
Wade has been around long enough to not be phased and when Humphries missed a dart for a 170 finish and a 3-0 lead, Wade nipped in to get his first leg on the board.
However, the anticipated – and trademark – comeback never materialised as Cool Hand took out the fifth leg and then the sixth against the throw for a 5-1 lead and a dream start to his Blackpool bow.
It was to get better as an uncharacteristic run of missed darts at double from Wade gave Humphries a third break of throw and 6-1 lead.
Wade gathered himself for a brilliant 148 finish after Humphries had missed two darts for a 7-1 lead, but rather than ignite the fire it just allowed Humphries to plough on and claim three of the next five legs for a hugely impressive statement.
Voltage turns on the power to see off battling Smith
Rob Cross returned to the scene of one of his greatest triumphs with a fabulous performance to see off a spirited display from debutant Ross Smith, who pushed the 2019 champion all the way before Voltage ran out a 10-8 winner.
Voltage won the title the last time the World Matchplay was at the Winter Gardens – a brilliant 18-13 victory over Michael Smith two years ago – but since winning a European Championship title later that year he has lost his way a little although signs of improvement have been evident.
Against an in-form opponent in Smith – who won a Players Championship title last week to confirm his debut in the tournament – Cross had to dig deep from 3-1 down after a sluggish start.
The 2018 world champion reeled off six legs on the bounce to seize control of the contest and hold a 7-3 advantage at the end of the second break, but a see-saw contest was about to swing in another direction.
Smudger returned from the break to fire an 11-darter and backed it up with a 14-dart break of throw before he reeled off a third in succession and in the blink of an eye he had closed to within one.
Cross stopped the rot to pin double 16 and sit within two of the winning post but when he missed seven darts for a 9-6 lead, Smith put his own doubling troubles behind him he was still within one leg of his more experienced opponent.
However, Voltage regained his composure for an impressive hold of throw that left him on the brink before sealing his showdown with world no 54 Callan Rydz in the second round on the back of a superb 100 average.
World Matchplay 2021: Monday’s Order of Play
Live World Matchplay Darts
July 19, 2021, 7:00pm
Rydz piles on the agony for Duzza
Callan Rydz came out on top in the battle of the North East as Glen Durrant’s struggles continued with a 10-6 defeat to the World Matchplay debutant.
Three-time BDO world champion Durrant, who has endured a miserable time since winning the Premier League last year, became the first seed to be eliminated from this year’s Matchplay.
Durrant lost all five of the first legs, missing 16 darts at double along the way as Rydz held his nerve across the early exchanges, despite 13 missed darts at double of his own.
After 18 missed darts at double, Durrant finally won his first leg to break throw but Rydz remained in control, despite some significant improvement from Duzza, who took out 90 to get a second leg on the board and followed up with his first 180 of the contest and back-to-back legs to trail by three.
Rydz remained in the ascendency, despite Durrant producing 13 and 14 dart legs to take his tally to five, but Rydz took out a couple himself to close within one of the finish line.
Despite a messy finish, it was the man from Tyneside who got the better of Teesside to mark his debut with a win, while Durrant will take solace from the second half of the contest.
🎙️ Big days and big tournaments require big names, so it's a huge welcome back to @Rod_Studd
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Relentless Ratajski too good for Dolan
Krzysztof Ratajski put a disappointing first half of the year behind him with a brilliantly efficient 10-4 victory over Brendan Dolan that saw book a second-round meeting against Luke Humphries.
The Pole, ranked 13th in the world, has suffered a dip in form in recent months and is without a quarter-final since March, but he produced some of his best darts of the year to account for an in-form Dolan.
Ratajski had the better of a high-quality first mini session to lead 3-2, but it could have been 4-1 had it not been for two miss darts at double that allowed Dolan to break straight back.
From there the Polish Eagle powered on and did not miss another dart a double on his way to a 7-3 lead, that included a brilliant 102 finish and a classy 11-darter.
The Northern Irishman was performing well himself and with Ratajski waiting on 50, he needed to dig deep for a 121 check-out to stay in the contest at 7-3, but the consistency of the Pole was too much for Dolan to handle.
The History Maker managed just one more leg, crucially missing two darts at double to close within three when he trailed 8-4, as Ratajski claimed the three he needed for a 102.03 average – the best of the early stages of the tournament.
Watch the World Matchplay from the iconic Winter Gardens all the way through until Sunday, July 25. Check out daily Darts news on skysports.com/darts, our app for mobile devices and our Twitter account @skysportsdarts
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