Rob Cross made a winning start to his defence of the William Hill World Darts Championship tonight (Thursday).
The St Leonards-based thrower produced an impressive display as he came from behind to beat Jeffrey de Zwaan by three sets to one in a second round match of superb quality.
World Matchplay semi-finalist De Zwaan posted the second highest ever losing average in the sport’s blue riband event with 106.09 and hit five 180s.
But it wasn’t enough to get the better of Cross, who averaged 102.93, landed four 180s and was successful with 55% of his attempts at a double in a thrilling end to the tournament’s opening night.
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After a tough last two or three months on the Professional Darts Corporation ProTour, Cross showed the sort of form which took him to the title in memorable fashion 12 months ago at Alexandra Palace, London - and he needed to given how well his opponent played.
Cross didn’t play badly in the opening set, but De Zwaan took it 3-0 averaging 107 aided by legs of 11 and 13 darts.
World number two Cross stepped up a gear in the second set. He won the first leg in 14 darts and the third in 12 (helped by a 180 and 171), but De Zwaan took the second and fourth legs, the latter in 12 darts after back-to-back 180s.
Cross crucially claimed the deciding leg of the set in 14 darts, finishing 140, 140, 96, to level the match at one set apiece.
The world number two produced back-to-back 14-darters at the start of the third set, and after De Zwaan pulled a leg back with a 14-darter of his own, Cross clinched the set 3-1 with a superb 121 checkout on the bullseye for a 12-darter.
De Zwaan began the fourth set with a 116 checkout for a 12-dart break only for Cross to start the second leg with five successive treble 20s en route to a 15-dart break. A 13-dart hold put Cross within a leg of victory and he finished 52 in leg four to seal a tremendous victory.
Cross now has a 10-day wait for his third round match, which will take place during the evening session on Sunday December 23.