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Stevenson turns it around to win his first merit points

WHO would argue that the 2019 PDC Tour is the hardest ever?

The first two Players Championships were competed for last weekend at the Robin Park Tennis Centre, Wigan and the three-dart average over the two days was a very impressive 91.45.

On the Saturday alone there were 26 averages greater than 100.00. Michael van Gerwen, who won the first event, averaged 104.25 over his seven victories, his best being 110.1.

The following day, a PDC record was broken when no fewer than four players completed a nine-dart game.

Twenty-year-old Geert Nentjes, Chris Dobey and the tournament winner, Dave Chisnall, all completed the perfect game before van Gerwen, following back to back maximums, hit treble 19, treble 16, double 18.

Plymouth’s Simon Stevenson (pictured) had a tough opening day but all credit to him for turning it around on the Sunday to put points up on the ranking table.

He was drawn to play Krzysztof Ratajski and the Pole began well when finishing a 12-dart leg with an outshot of 136.

But unperturbed Simon took the next three with the help of two 15-darters but never won another.

Two 15-darters from Ratajski brought them level at 3-3 and despite Simon having six darts to break throw, he was eventually defeated 6-3.

Sunday was another day which brought a marked improvement from the Mirror Man.

James Richardson was Simon’s first opponent in Players Championship Two and the Rushden thrower won the opener in 14, only for Simon to level in 12 when finishing with a checkout of 136.

Richardson then moved 4-1 ahead in 11, 18 and 17, but Stevenson rallied and won the next four in 16, 18, 16 and 19 to go in front for the first time at 5-4.

A 15-darter from Stevenson’s opponent made it 5-5 but against the throw, the Mirror Man won the decisive 11th leg in 14, the third defeat that Stevenson had inflicted on Richardson is as many matches.

That first win was a welcome relief and Simon went on to meet Jelle Klaasen in the round of 64, buoyed by the fact that he had started to put points on the Order of Merit table.

Up until last February, Stevenson had never beaten the Dutchman but has now won two on the bounce following this latest victory.

Stevenson went 3-0 up in 14, 15 and 16 and finished off the win in 17, 15 and 15 in a great encounter that saw six maximums recorded, four by the Plymouth thrower.

He now had to play the World’s No.1 player Michael van Gerwen and despite edging 2-1 in front with legs won in 17 and 15, was eventually beaten 6-2.

But this was a lot better showing from the Mirror Man who hit eight maximums in his three matches.

His average for the day was 94.96 which gave him a place in the elite top 20 as well as adding 1,000 merit points.

The Tour returns to Wigan this weekend when Players Championship Three and Four will be contested over two days.

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