Simon Whitlock edges past John Henderson in thriller at Professional Darts Corporation's Betfred World Matchplay in Blackpool
Simon Whitlock set up a Betfred World Matchplay second-round tie with Peter Wright after winning a ‘fantastic’ clash with John Henderson.
The Wizard, twice a semi-finalist in the event, battled to a 10-8 success over his Scottish rival at Winter Gardens in Blackpool on Monday.
A 112 check-out gave the Aussie, who lives in Waterlooville, a 5-3 lead.
But Henderson turned the tables when he rattled off the next three legs to edge 6-5 ahead.
Whitlock refused to give up, though, and won four on the bounce – a run capped by a 124 check-out – to move within a leg of the match.
Henderson rallied with finishes of 97 and 81 before he missed four darts to force a tie-break and the Australian found double eight to clinch victory.
Whitlock said: ‘That was a fantastic game.
‘Hendo is the nicest guy on tour but, jeez, can that guy play darts!
‘I felt so good in practice and I’ve been pretty good in Blackpool. I feel comfortable on this stage.’
Whitlock, who now has the chance to avenge his crushing quarter-final defeat to Wright last season, has struggled with tendinitis in his elbow in recent weeks.
The Wizard added: ‘I’m good now but it has really affected me in the past few weeks and I’ve been a bit restricted.’
Wright eased into the second round with a 10-5 victory over Vincent van der Voort.
The Scot, who boasted the highest average of the opening round, said: ‘Whoever I play in this tournament will have to play well, otherwise they are going home.’