Dimitri van den Bergh makes winning start to title defence

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Dimitri van den Bergh got the defence of his World Matchplay title off to an impressive start with a 10-5 win over Devon Petersen.

The 27-year-old produced a big shock 12 months ago to claim glory at the competition as a debutant and progressed into the second round after hitting six maximums on his first appearance at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens.

Van den Bergh told Sky Sports: “For some reason, this game I don’t feel we showed our best and I was struggling, he was struggling.

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“This debut at Winter Gardens was difficult, but I have got to say thank you to the crowd because every time I heard you shouting ‘come on Dimi’ and that raised me up so I appreciate it so much.”

The coronavirus pandemic forced last year’s tournament to be played behind closed doors and moved from its usual venue in Blackpool to the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.

It was back at its rightful home of Winter Gardens this summer and a capacity crowd of 803 were able to acknowledge the efforts of the 2020 winner Van den Bergh, who had lifted the Phil Taylor Trophy in an empty venue last July.

Before the opening-day action got under way, the late BDO world champion Andy Fordham, who died on Thursday, was remembered and received a round of applause from those in attendance before his name was chanted.

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Van den Bergh was the final act of the evening and after a slow start produced some fireworks which delighted the spectators.

The Dream Maker reeled off five legs in a row to take control of the match, having trailed 2-1, with a 12-dart break of throw the highlight.

Mixed into checkouts of 108 and 110 were six 180s to ensure Van den Bergh clinched a win on his Winter Gardens debut.

Dave Chisnall will face the Belgian next after he was able to avenge his round one exit to Vincent van der Voort from last year with a 10-8 triumph over the same opponent.

Checkouts of 124 and 161 helped the world number nine progress but he was pushed all the way before he clinched the final two legs for victory.

Top seed Gerwyn Price was not at his best but ended his poor run at the tournament with a 10-4 win over Jermaine Wattimena.

After four consecutive first-round defeats, the Iceman was able to recover from going two legs down early on to go through with a 96.57 average and following a 127 checkout to finish.

World champion Price will next take on fellow Welshman Jonny Clayton, who made the last 16 for the first time.

Premier League winner Clayton secured a 10-7 victory with a solid showing over Dirk van Duijvenbode, firing in seven maximums.

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