Van Gerwen survives early test

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Published: Thursday 18th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Reigning champion Michael van Gerwen was given a stern test before eventually booking his spot in the second round of the PDC World Championship.

The Dutchman would have been looking to make a statement against Joe Cullen as he began the defence of his title at the Alexandra Palace.

Van Gerwen, though, was largely listless throughout but did just enough to claim a 3-1 victory over his 25-year-old opponent from Bradford in a match where every set went to the deciding leg.

A 161 checkout from the underdog in the opening leg let Van Gerwen know he was in for a tough battle, although the reigning world champion edged the first set.

But Cullen missed two darts at double top to level proceedings and Van Gerwen took advantage to go 2-0 ahead.

Yet he struggled to find his best form and went 2-0 behind in the next set, and while Cullen missed another chance to win a set he eventually got on the scoreboard with a 114 checkout.

That temporarily spurred Van Gerwen into life and seven consecutive 180s gave him a sniff of a nine-darter, although his eighth dart missed the treble 19.

But Cullen would not go away and took the set to another decider, where Van Gerwen triumphed to his obvious delight.

“A win is a win,” said a relieved Van Gerwen, who averaged 96.96, to Sky Sports Darts.

“I felt pressure in the beginning but then I told myself ‘this is going to be my day’. The pressure was alright, it was not too bad but I think I did quite well for the first game on the stage.”

Van Gerwen, who won 11-9 in legs, admitted he must improve before his last-32 clash.

“I made too many mistakes and the next game I’m not allowed to do. Otherwise sooner or later you can get damaged for that or hammered for that,” he added.

“But I just want to do well now and enjoy this moment because it’s great.”

There was a shock on the opening day of the championship, though, as three-time champion John Part crashed to a 3-2 defeat to debutant Keegan Brown.

The 48-year-old Canadian battled back from 2-0 down to force a deciding set but the reigning world youth champion held his nerve.

There was better luck for 2006 BDO world champion Jelle Klaasen, who defeated fellow Dutchman Christian Kist 3-1.

Published: Thursday 18th December 2014 by The News Editor

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