HomeSportsUK Open: Luke Littler overcomes James Wade as Michael van Gerwen beaten...

UK Open: Luke Littler overcomes James Wade as Michael van Gerwen beaten by Mensur Suljovic in Minehead

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Teenage sensation Luke Littler survived a late fightback from James Wade to reach the fifth round of the UK Open, as Michael van Gerwen made a shock early exit in Minehead.

The 17-year-old – playing in his first major tournament since his breakout run to the World Championship final – produced a 101.81 average and made four ton-plus finishes against Wade, who had defeated him in a Players Championship event last month.

Littler raced into an 8-2 advantage against the 2021 champion before losing five of the next six legs, then recovered to see out a 10-7 victory and set up a last-32 meeting against Martin Schindler.

Andrew Gilding began his title defence with a 10-7 victory against Josh Payne, while three-time champion Van Gerwen was beaten by the same margin against Mensur Suljovic.

Image:
Michael van Gerwen was knocked out on the opening night of the UK Open

Littler gets through Wade challenge

Littler threw a 109 checkout for his opening leg and fired in a 12-dart to break in the next on his way to moving into a 3-1 lead, only for Wade to fire in a 167 checkout and cut the gap to one.

The teenager took control after the break, firing in ‘the Big Fish’ during a run of five straight legs, before missing two darts to move 9-2 ahead and allowing Wade to reduce the deficit.

A 104 finish from Wade for a 15-dart break and a hold of throw in the next made it 8-5, while Littler took the 14th leg with a bullseye-bullseye finish to move within a leg of victory.

Wade kept his hopes alive with a 109 finish and then made a huge break with an 11-darter, leaving him just two behind, before Littler took a 72 checkout to hold through and secure his spot in the next round.

Luke Littler - Premier League Darts in Newcastle
Image:
Luke Littler

“I know if my game is there every match, then I don’t see why I can’t win it,” Littler said. “I don’t mind who I play. It is what I dreamed of, playing in front of thousands every week, I just take it in my stride.”

Who else impressed in round four?

Suljovic battled back from 5-2 down against Van Gerwen, firing in a 118 checkout to win the first of five consecutive legs on his way to a 10-7 victory over last year’s runner-up.

Former world champion Michael Smith defeated Joe Cullen 10-7 and Peter Wright thrashed Joshua Richardson 10-3, while Schindler survived six match darts in the deciding leg to dump out former world champion Gerwyn Price.

Raymond van Barneveld was beaten in a final-leg decider by Luke Woodhouse and Jonny Clayton also needed a final leg to defeat Tim Wolters, as Graham Usher produced a 100 finish in the deciding leg to claim a surprise win over Ryan Searle.

World champion Luke Humphries saw off Dirk van Duijvenbode 10-7, with Rob Cross, Nathan Aspinall, Gary Anderson and Jonny Clayton all coming through their matches.

The action will continue on Saturday, with the fifth and sixth rounds across two sessions, before the Main Stage will play host to the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final on Sunday.

Where does the Premier League head next?

The Premier League continues in Brighton, as league leader Van Gerwen takes on Night Five runner-up Rob Cross in a battle of the former world champions.

Nathan Aspinall faces Luke Littler in another eye-catching showdown, Luke Humphries meets Gerwyn Price in a repeat of last year’s World Grand Prix final, while Michael Smith plays Peter Wright.

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Premier League Darts continues on Sky Sports on Thursday, March 7 with The Brighton Centre the next stop on the 17-week extravaganza all the way through to the Play-Offs at the O2 Arena in London on Thursday, May 23.

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