World Darts Championship - Day Six Round-Up
Ronnie edged past former World Darts Champion Dennis Priestley with a 3-1 victory in their first round meeting on Wednesday evening, as Simon Whitlock, Justin Pipe and Colin Lloyd joined him in the last 32.
Baxter, the five-time major finalist, had seemed on course to cruise into the last 32 of the £1 million tournament when he won the first two sets of his contest with veteran star Priestley.
However, the 62-year-old - returning to the Alexandra Palace stage after missing out last year as he winds down his professional career - showed his customary grit to take the third set and lead 2-0 in the fourth.
Baxter, though, stepped in to save the set before punishing missed doubles from Priestley to level in the fourth leg, and sealed victory on double ten.
"I could have made it much easier for myself but I'm so glad to get over the finishing line," admitted Baxter, who now faces Kevin Painter. I missed a few doubles to win the game and let him back in, and when you give him a chance he usually takes it. I was preparing myself for a fifth set, though, so I was grateful that Dennis gave me the opportunity to close out the match."
Two-time World Championship Priestley will continue to pick and choose where he competes on the PDC ProTour next year, and admits that this may not have been his last appearance on the Alexandra Palace stage.
"To come back and play in another World Championship is a great achievement for me," said Priestley. "Ronnie was marvellous in the first set and he was hard to deal with early on, but I didn't panic and managed to get myself back into the game, but I wasn't good enough to finish the job.I'd love to be back here in 12 months if I qualify and I'll have a look at the calendar in the New Year. I could be back next year but it's not my main aim. I don't have the enthusiasm to practice as much any more - I'm just as keen to have a game of cards - but I don't like losing and when I get up there and, even in the face of adversity, I still want to try and pull things back."
2010 runner-up Simon Whitlock, a semi-finalist last year, began his challenge to lift the Sid Waddell Trophy with a comfortable 3-0 win over Japanese number one Haruki Muramatsu.
Muramatsu had whitewashed New Zealand's Dave Harrington in the preliminary round earlier in the night, but was unable to defeat another Antipodean as Whitlock took all three sets 3-1.
"I'm happy with that," said Whitlock. "The first games are always hard and he played some good darts, but I was pleased with my performance. I've put a lot of work in during the last six weeks and I think I can go all the way this year - I've prepared well and I know I can win this. I can't look too far ahead because Colin Osborne's playing well and I'll have to improve on this performance to defeat him at the weekend."
Number 11 seed Justin Pipe dropped only two legs in his straight sets victory over 2007 semi-finalist Andy Jenkins as he progressed to the last 32.
"I'm delighted to get through the first round with a win," said Pipe. "I lost focus in the third set, to that's a bit disappointing and I'll work on my mental focus before the second round."
Former world number one Colin Lloyd was the night's other winner as he came from 2-1 down in sets to edge out top American Darin Young in a final set tie-break.
Young finished 101 and 144 in taking the opening set 3-1 and also led 2-0 in the second before Lloyd took the next three legs - including a 114 finish - to level.
The left-hander edged the third set, but Lloyd took the fourth without reply, hitting a 124 finish along the way, and them came from 4-3 down in the decider to win a tie-break 6-4 and set up a second round date with Mark Webster.
"It was a great battle and I've proved something to myself by digging out the result," said Lloyd. "It was tough going but I'm so happy and relieved to go through. I played some good darts in patches and there are a lot of positives to come out of it, but I lost the first and third sets by throwing some iffy darts and I know I've got to get out of the blocks quicker on Saturday against Mark."
The first round concludes on Thursday night with the remaining four matches, including number seven seed Michael van Gerwen - October's World Grand Prix winner - facing the winner of the preliminary round contest between Malaysia's Mohd Latif Sapup and Singapore's Paul Lim, who hit the first World Championship nine-darter back in 1990.
Another Dutchman, Vincent van der Voort, plays debutant Stuart Kellett, Mark Walsh meets former quarter-finalist Darren Webster and Kim Huybrechts meets Scott Rand only nine days after his father passed away in Belgium.
World Darts Championship
Wednesday December 19
1x Preliminary Round, 4x First Round
Justin Pipe 3-0 Andy Jenkins
Haruki Muramatsu 4-0 Dave Harrington (P)
Ronnie Baxter 3-1 Dennis Priestley
Colin Lloyd 3-2 Darin Young
Simon Whitlock 3-0 Haruki Muramatsu
Thursday December 20 (7pm)
1x Preliminary Round, 4x First Round
Mark Walsh v Darren Webster
Paul Lim v Mohd Latif Sapup (P)
Kim Huybrechts v Scott Rand
Vincent van der Voort v Stuart Kellett
Michael van Gerwen v Lim/Sapup
Justin Pipe 3-0 Andy Jenkins
(3-0, 3-0, 3-2)
Justin Pipe eased into the last 32 of the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship a straight sets triumph over experienced Andy Jenkins, who reached the last four of this tournament in 2007.
Pipe won the first seven legs of the match to take command as Jenkins failed to settle on his return to the Alexandra Palace stage, and went on to take the third set in a deciding leg to confirm a place in the second round.
"I'm delighted to get through the first round with a win, and that's more important than producing a good average," said Pipe.
"I really lost focus in the third set, so that feels a bit disappointing. This is only my second year competing in televised tournaments and I've learnt another lesson tonight.
"Despite that, I'm through to the next round and I hope to make more progress in this year's World Championship."
Jenkins, returning to Alexandra Palace after a two-year absence, struggled to find any rhythm at the start of the match and Pipe took the opening two legs easily, including a 14-darter to break throw in the second.
The third leg saw Jenkins miss a dart at bullseye, and Pipe hit double top at the first time of asking to open up an early lead.
Pipe, who has risen to 11th in the world following another successful year on the circuit, hit a 116 finish to take the first leg of set two, before hitting double four in the next after Jenkins was off-target with two darts at double 16.
The Taunton ace then hit double eight in the next leg to establish a two-set lead and leave Jenkins with a mountain to climb.
Pipe, who reached the third round of this event last year, won his seventh leg in a row at the start of the third set after Jenkins let three chances to get off the mark go begging.
The second leg saw Pipe miss two chances to move further ahead and Jenkins capitalised by converting a 70 finish to claim his first leg of the game.
Jenkins then took the third leg on double eight after Pipe was guilty of wasting four attempts at doubles, but the number 11 seed recovered by taking out 72 to win the fourth.
The deciding leg saw Jenkins hold the advantage of throw, but Pipe closed out the contest thanks to an accurate dart at double 16 to complete a 64 finish.
Haruki Muramatsu 4-0 Dave Harrington
JAPAN'S Haruki Muramatsu set-up a first round clash against Australian Simon Whitlock with a comprehensive 4-0 victory over New Zealand's Dave Harrington in the preliminary round of the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship.
The 59-year-old from Christchurch, who won the New Zealand National Championship to earn a World Championship debut, struggled throughout on the big stage as Muramatsu cruised through to the last 64 for the third time.
Muramatsu hit double top to win the first leg comfortably before taking the second leg by hitting the same double to break throw.
Muramatsu, making his third appearance at Alexandra Palace, converted an excellent 116 finish in the third to move a leg away from victory, which was secured by hitting double top for the third time.
Ronnie Baxter 3-1 Dennis Priestley
(3-1, 3-2, 2-3, 3-2)
Ronnie Baxter overcame the challenge of two-time World Champion Dennis Priestley with a four-set win in the first round of the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship on Wednesday night.
Baxter took command of the game by winning the the opening two sets, storming out of the blocks initially before punishing Priestley for two misses to level in set two.
However, the Blackpool ace then let five darts to complete a straight-sets victory slip away as the 62-year-old fought his way back into the contest, winning the third set before leading 2-0 in the fourth, only for four missed doubles to square the game prove costly.
"I could have made it much easier for myself, but I'm so glad get over the finish line", said a relieved Baxter, who will now face Kevin Painter for a place in the last 16.
"I was preparing myself for a fifth set, so I was grateful that Dennis gave me the opportunity to close out the match."
Baxter, who reached the semi-finals of the World Matchplay last summer came out of the blocks quickly, as he won the first leg on double 18 before taking the next with a second successive 13-dart finish.
Priestley hit a 180 in the next, as he landed a 13-darter of his own, but Baxter won the fourth leg on double eight to wrap up the opening set in style.
Baxter missed two chances to win the first leg of the second, set but Priestley was unable to hit tops and the Blackpool ace returned to land double five.
The two-time World Champion hit double ten to level and then produced his second 13-darter of the game to break his opponent's throw.
The fourth leg saw Priestley miss two chances to win the set, and that proved costly as Baxter converted an 89 finish to level.
Priestley fired in a 180 in the fifth, but Baxter produced the more consistent scoring and posted double top with a pressure third dart to leave Priestley with a mountain to climb.
The veteran, though, immediately began his fight back, following up a break from Baxter in the third set's opener to take out 92 in two darts to level.
The third leg saw Baxter waste three opportunities at doubles, and Priestley managed to land double 16 with a vital third dart to edge ahead.
Priestley had a dart to claim the set in the fourth leg, only for his attempt at double 19 for a 158 checkout to narrowly miss as Baxter hit double four to move a leg away from triumph.
Priestley threw first in the deciding leg, and when Baxter missed five darts to take victory, double top from the Yorkshireman saw him win a set to hit back.
The 62-year-old started the fourth set by hitting double eight to take the first leg before hitting a 13-darter to win his third successive leg.
Baxter stopped the rot as hit double ten to take the third leg and landed the same double to claim the fourth, after Priestley was guilty of missing four chances to take the match into a deciding set.
Priestley was unable to shake off that disappointment, and Baxter hit double ten for the third straight leg to confirm victory.
Priestley admitted: "Ronnie started much better than me, but I didn't panic and managed to get myself back into the game - partly due to errors that Ronnie made.
"To come back and play in another World Championship is a great achievement for me. It wasn't one of my goals at the start of the year and to get one more chance to play on the big stage is the icing on the cake."
Colin Lloyd 3-2 Darin Young
(1-3, 3-2, 2-3, 3-0, 6-4)
Colin Lloyd came from behind on two occasions to defeat Darin Young in the first round of the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship for a second successive year at Alexandra Palace.
Young took command early on as he won five of the first six legs, but two missed darts to establish a two-set lead gave Lloyd the opportunity to get back into the match.
From then on it was a nip and tuck affair before Lloyd put together an excellent run of three straight legs in the fifth set tie-break to book a last 32 meeting against Mark Webster.
Young, making his seventh appearance in the World Championship, took out 101 to win the opening leg of the match before Lloyd landed double 16 to level.
The American hit double ten in third to regain the lead and in the next leg he wrapped up the set thanks to a superb 144 checkout, after Lloyd missed a dart at tops.
Young broke throw at the start of the second set by hitting double top at the first attempt, before taking the next with an excellent 13-dart finish to continue his domination of the early exchanges.
The third leg saw Young miss two chances at tops to win the set, and Lloyd hit double four with a pressure third dart to keep his hopes alive.
Lloyd then hit a purple patch as he took out a 114 finish to win the fourth leg and won the decider with a timely 14-darter to level the match at one set apiece.
The Colchester ace won his fourth leg in a row on double eight to win the third set's opener against the darts, but Young broke back immediately on double five and won the third leg with a third-dart double two.
Lloyd hit double five to set up a deciding leg, which proved to be a tense affair as both players missed one dart to claim the set before Young hit double two with his third dart to edge ahead once again.
Lloyd hit back superbly in the fourth set as he levelled the game without reply from Young, taking out finishes of 76 and 124 in the process of forcing a deciding set.
The start of the fifth set saw both players miss two opportunities to take the first leg before the former world number one hit double seven to edge ahead.
Lloyd won the second leg to move within touching distance of victory before the American took out 58 to win the third leg and stay in the contest, before punishing two missed match darts from the former World Matchplay winner by landing a 77 checkout to level the set.
Lloyd took out tops to win the fifth leg to edge back ahead, but Young landed an excellent 115 finish, with his opponent waiting on 60, to level and then break throw with a 62 checkout in the next, despite a 180 from the Essex ace, to lead 4-3.
Lloyd, though, kicked-off the eighth leg with scores of 140 and 180 before hitting double 16 to level, then posted double eight to move back ahead and finally sealed the win by taking out 82 in the tenth leg.
"It was a great battle and I've proved something to myself by digging out the result," said Lloyd. "It was tough going but I'm so happy and relieved to go through.
"Darin took out a couple of great shots but I didn't let it rattle me. I lost the first set last year
"I played some good darts in patches and there are a lot of positives to come out of it, but I lost the first and third sets by throwing some iffy darts and I know I've got to get out of the blocks quicker on Saturday against Mark."
Simon Whitlock 3-0 Haruki Muramatsu
(3-1, 3-1, 3-1)
Simon Whitlock began bid for Ladbrokes World Darts Championship glory by defeating Japan's Haruki Muramatsu with a straight sets win at Alexandra Palace on Wednesday.
Whitlock, who was edged out by Andy Hamilton in a dramatic semi-final 12 months ago and was the 2010 runner-up, will now face Colin Osborne on Saturday evening for a place in the last 16.
Muramatsu had overcome New Zealand's Dave Harrington with a preliminary round whitewash earlier in the evening and started confidently against the number five seed, hitting double ten to win the first leg before Whitlock levelled by landing the same double.
Whitlock then broke throw in the next with the aid of a 180, before winning the fourth leg with a 15-dart finish to seal the set.
The Australian took a fourth straight leg at the start of the second set before Muramatsu hit double 19 to level.
Whitlock then landed double eight to secure a break of throw and capitalised on two missed darts at doubles from the Japanese number one in the next, as he took out a fine 116 finish to win the set.
Muramatsu hit double eight to make a winning start to the third set, before Whitlock won the second leg with a 13-darter, which featured a 177 from the European Championship winner.
Whitlock hit his second 180 in the third leg before posting double 14 to break throw, and he ended the match in the fourth thanks to an accurate first dart at double 18.
"I'm happy with that," said Whitlock. "The first games are always hard and he played some good darts, but I was pleased with my performance.
"I've put a lot of work in during the last six weeks and I think I can go all the way this year - I've prepared well and I know I can win this.
"I can't look too far ahead because Colin's playing well and I'll have to improve on this performance to defeat him."