Dimitri van den Bergh makes winning start in title defense

Dimitri van den Bergh started his match play world title defense with a 10-5 win over Devon Petersen.

The 27-year-old produced a big shock 12 months ago to claim the glory of the competition as a debutant and progressed to the second round after reaching six highs in his first appearance at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens.

Van den Bergh told Sky Sports: “For some reason this game I don’t think we showed our best and I was struggling, he was struggling.

“It was a tough start to Winter Gardens, but I have to say thank you to the crowd because every time I heard you scream ‘come on Dimi’ and that uplifted me so I appreciate it very much.”

The coronavirus pandemic forced last year’s tournament to be played behind closed doors and moved from its usual venue in Blackpool to Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.

He was back at his rightful home in Winter Gardens this summer and a crowd of 803 were able to salute the efforts of 2020 winner Van den Bergh, who lifted the Phil Taylor trophy to an empty venue last July.

Ahead of the opening day action, the late BDO World Champion Andy Fordham, who died on Thursday, was called back and received a round of applause from those in attendance before his name was chanted .

The Dream Maker won five straight games to take control of the game, after falling 2-1, with a 12-dart break to throw the climax.

Mixed in with cases of 108 and 110, there were six 180s to ensure Van den Bergh landed a victory on his Winter Gardens debut.

Dave Chisnall will next face the Belgian after being able to avenge his first-round exit against Vincent van der Voort last year with a 10-8 victory over the same opponent.

Seeded Gerwyn Price was not at his best, but ended his poor streak in the tournament with a 10-4 win over Jermaine Wattimena.

After four straight losses in the first round, the Iceman was able to recover from a two-leg drop early on to qualify with an average of 96.57 and after a start of 127 to finish.

World champion Price will then face fellow Welshman Jonny Clayton, who made the last 16 for the first time.

Premier League winner Clayton took a 10-7 victory with a solid performance over Dirk van Duijvenbode, shooting in seven maximums.

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