Darts ace Stevenson moves into last 32 of UK Open

THE UK Open began yesterday at the Butlins Resort, Minehead, with no fewer than 159 players all bidding for the £100,000 top prize.

There were 127 matches completed on eight boards across two sessions and at the end of the day only 32 players remained, which included Plymouth professional Simon Stevenson.

The Mirror Man entered the tournament in the second round and had to play Adrian Gray who had defeated Ian McFarlane 6-1 in round one.

Simon could not have wished for a better start when, in the opening leg, he threw 140, 137, 121, before checking out from 103 for a win in 12.

He made it 2-0 with victory in 16 and clinched the seventh leg in 14, before emerging a 6-2 winner.

Stevenson’s opponent in the third round was Mark Webster, who won the BDO World Championhip in 2008 but the Welshman held no fears for The Mirror Man who had won their only previous encounter 6-2.

Simon went 2-0 up in 12 and 13 and although Webster reduced the deficit when taking the third leg in 17, two more legs in 14 and 17 gave Stevenson a 4-1 lead.

The 35-year-old from St Asaph hit two 15-darters, but Stevenson took two of his own in 16 and 15 for a 6-3 victory with a 97.7 average.

That success put him into the fourth round where he was drawn to play Raymond van Barneveld in the evening session on stage two with the format changing to the best of 19 legs.

The two marksmen had never met before but needed no introduction as Barney’s professional record, which includes four world championships, is only bettered by the former World No.1 Phil Taylor.

The first four legs were shared with both players winning legs in 13 before The Mirror Man edged 5-2 ahead when taking three on the bounce.

Despite the former postman clinching a 16-darter, Simon won the next three in 14, 13 and 14 to move 8-3 in front.

Barney then took three of his own, which included a leg in 12, before Stevenson moved to within one leg of victory when taking the 15th leg in 15.

Raymond won the next in 14 but Stevenson’s moment of glory would not be denied, and he won the 17th leg in 16 for a comprehensive 10-7 victory and arguably his best ever achievement on the pro circuit.

Stevenson’s average over all his matches was a very respectable 94.60.

The tournament continues today with the fifth round in the afternoon session, followed by the sixth round in the evening, after which just eight players will remain to compete in Sunday's final day.

In the third match on Stage Three, Stevenson will face Kim Huybrechts.

The pair have met previously on just two occasions, but not since February 2017, with both having one victory each.

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