Simon returning to Wigan hoping for more success

THE Mirrorman will be back in PDC action over the weekend when he will be competing at the Robin Park Tennis Centre, Wigan . . . A venue which has been very good to him so far in 2018.

Twelve days after regaining his Tour Card in January, Simon returned to the same venue to contest the first three qualifying rounds of the UK Open and produced another outstanding performance.

Stevenson started by beating Ryan Joyce 6-5, before defeating Mark Lawrence 6-0 and Barry Lynn 6-2.

Stuart Kellett, a former winner of the Scottish and Antwerp Opens was Stevenson’s opponent in the last 32 and with his best performance of the day, the Plymouth marksman won 6-0, finishing with a 97.00 average.

Stevenson’s opponent in the last 16 was the World No.1 Michael van Gerwen who had reached this stage of the competition boasting a 106.7 average.

The Dutchman maintained that form when winning the first three legs in 14, 14 and 15 before Stevenson showed good form of his own.

He won the fourth leg in 15 before taking the next in 17 against the darts. He then drew level at 3-3 with a brilliant 12-dart leg when he scored 60, 180, 100 before finishing at the first time of asking from 161.

Unfortunately, that was the last leg that the Plymothian won as van Gerwen progressed when taking the next three in 15, 16 and 13 for a 6-3 victory before going on to defeat Michael Smith in the final and scoop the winner’s cheque of £10,000.

Stevenson finished the day having hit five maximums and an overall average of 90.40 but is was certainly not all doom and gloom for the Mirrorman.

He boosted his ranking by 1,500 points and only seven players finished above him in the order of merit with the likes of Corey Cadby, James Wade, Mervyn King and Robert Thornton, all below him.

Stevenson finished the day having hit five maximums and an overall average of 90.40.

But the players returned to Wigan the following weekend to contest the last three qualifiers and the best was yet to come.

The Mirrorman began well in qualifier four with a 6-1 victory over Steven Kirby followed by wins against Colin Littlecott (6-2) and Adam Hunt (6-3) before he met Mervyn King.

Stevenson found himself 2-0 down after the early exchanges but moved 3-2 in front with wins in 11, 13 and 14.

King pulled it back and the two players were all level at 5-5, before the Plymouth marksman won in 13 darts, producing a match average of 99.20.

Progress was halted in the next though when he was beaten by the former BDO World Champion Steve Beaton.

His form dipped in qualifier five when he lost 6-3 to Peter Wright after defeating Eddie Dootson and Dawson Murschell both 6-2, but qualifier six was a different day . . . probably the best day Stevenson has ever experienced up to then on the oche.

It began with a defeat of Steffan Siepmann and the German was blown away 6-0 when Stevenson won in 12, 14, 14, 16, 12 and 13 to post his highest ever PDC match average of 111.33

He then came up against Jelle Klaasen who had beaten Stevenson on the previous three occasions they had met, but the Dutchman could not handle the Mirrorman this time around and bowed out 6-2 after Simon had gone 5-1 up with a checkout of 105.

Keegan Brown was Stevenson’s opponent in the last 64 and the match score stood at 3-3, before he cleaned up when taking the last three legs in 15, 13 and 13 for a 98.40 match average.

Bradley Brooks was next in the round of 32 and despite the Plymouth thrower winning the opening leg in 15, the 18-year-old Blackburn marksman won the next four.

Stevenson pulled that deficit back to 4-3, before emerging a 6-4 winner when closing out the last three legs in 11, 13 and 15, earning himself another excellent average of 94.70.

Stevenson was now into the last 16 and in order to progress, had to overcome his nemesis from the previous day, Peter Wright.

But despite the Mirrorman giving another good account of himself, he was edged out 6-5.

Wright took the lead on five occasions and on five occasions Stevenson levelled taking the 10th in 16, despite Snakebite opening the leg with back to back 180s.

But a win over one of the world’s top players was not to be and Wright progressed with a 6-5 victory, despite Stevenson coming out of that confrontation with a 97.30 average.

But what a performance by the Plymouth thrower who hit 12 maximums on the day and his efforts enabled him not only to qualify for the prestigious tournament, but he had done enough to be seeded as a top 32 player. An excellent achievement against the best players in the world.

Simon will hope to replicate that Wigan form once again when he competes in Players Championship 9 today and Championship 10 tomorrow.

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