Grand Slam of Darts: Raymond Van Barneveld wins on opening day
Last Updated: 10/11/13 7:08am
Raymond van Barneveld: winning start
Raymond Van Barneveld began the defence of his William Hill Grand Slam of Darts title with a 5-2 win over Ricky Evans, while rivals Simon Whitlock, Robert Thornton and Scott Waites all picked up victories on the first day of the tournament in Wolverhampton.
Van Barneveld continued his winning run on the Wolves Civic stage with a confident 5-2 victory over World Youth Championship finalist Ricky Evans in their Group E contest.
"I felt great and I'm pleased to have come through my first game with a win and to get two points," said van Barneveld. "It's fantastic to be back here again and the crowd were awesome today - the atmosphere was unreal.
"Ricky is a young player coming through the ranks and I wasn't underestimating him, and he played good darts, so I'm happy to win that."
Van Barneveld plays Tony O'Shea in their second Group E game on Sunday, after the Lakeside Championship finalist edged a thriller with Mervyn King 5-4, as the Norfolk ace came back from 4-1 down to force a decider.
"It's a dream start winning against Mervyn," said O'Shea. "I never seem to make it easy for myself and I was prepared for a battle - I knew that the game wasn't over when I got 4-1 up and Mervyn showed his class to come back the way he did.
"I've got a terrific reception on every occasion I've played at Wolverhampton and today was no different. I really enjoyed playing in front of that atmosphere."
2010 Grand Slam of Darts winner Scott Waites, the reigning Lakeside Champion, made a winning start to his challenge in Group H with a 5-3 defeat of Ted Hankey.
"It's always a tough game against Ted as you never quite know what you're going to get, but he got up there and threw some pretty good darts," said Waites.
"There were a few nervous moments and I had a couple of darts at a match-winning double and let Ted back in the game, but I got the job done in the end.
"I love the crowd and love the stage here, and for some reason when I come to Wolverhampton I up my game, so to get off to a win is fantastic."
Waites' second group game will now see him face World Youth Champion Michael Smith, who impressed with a 103 average in his 5-3 defeat of Dave Chisnall, who led 3-1 before the youngster hit legs of 11, 12, 14 and 13 darts to storm to victory.
"It's the best start I could have had," said Smith. "I'm over the moon to beat Dave, who's the number seven in the world and number one in St Helens and where I want to be.
"Since I won the World Youth Championship I knew I'd be in this, and I've been looking forward to it so much. My form dipped but it's coming back again now and I've got confidence in my game at the moment.
"This is just one game and I've got another two left now, and if I can get through the group then I'll concentrate on the knockout stages."
Former Lakeside Champion Mark Webster opened his challenge with a confidence boosting 5-2 win over Wes Newton, who led 2-0 early on only to see the Welsh ace, aided by a brilliant 164 checkout, to reel off five successive legs.
"It's a great win and to string five legs together against him is an achievement," said Webster. "Nobody beats Wes easily so I'm really happy with that.
"The job's not done yet though - I learned the hard way last year when I won my first game and went out, so I've got to stay focused and concentrate for the rest of the group."
Webster will now take on Simon Whitlock in their second Group G game, with the Australian having been a 5-2 winner against Ross Smith, the Challenge Tour Order of Merit winner making his Wolverhampton debut.