Rob Cross produced a remarkable comeback while Gerwyn Price also made it through to round two on Night Three of the 2022 Betfred World Matchplay in Blackpool on Monday.
A sizzling evening at the seaside saw former champion Cross recover from 8-2 down to defeat Dobey 11-9, before world number two Price enjoyed a hard-fought 10-8 victory over Martin Schindler.
Cross, who produced one of the greatest comebacks in the tournament’s history in defeating Daryl Gurney en route to the 2019 title, was staring an early exit in the face as a fired-up Dobey hit two double 19s for a 92 checkout to lead 8-2.
But Dobey was unable to see out a first victory on the Winter Gardens stage, as Cross reeled off six successive legs to level at eight-all.
Dobey stopped the rot with an 11-darter, and with the former World Grand Prix semi-finalist waiting on 48 for the match, Cross pinned a skin-saving bullseye with his last dart to take out 74 and level once again.
After Dobey missed a dart at tops, Cross once again found a last dart double, this time double nine, to move 10-9 up before keeping his composure with a 13-darter to seal an unlikely win.
“In the first ten legs my darts were slipping, everything was all over the place,” admitted Cross, who will face Jose de Sousa in round two.
“When I was 8-2 down, I stayed on stage during the interval and I knew if I could just produce a steady level, and stop him getting to nine legs, I had a chance.
“Chris missed a lot – he should’ve beaten me – but I’ve produced these comebacks before so I had the belief I could turn it around.
“The Winter Gardens will always be special to me, I love it here so I’m really pleased to stay in the tournament.”
De Sousa wrapped up a 10-6 victory over Gabriel Clemens with a show-stopping 136 checkout to reach the last 16 for a second consecutive year.
The world number seven was the front-runner throughout the contest, but was made to wait for the winning moment after a cruel bounce-out denied him a two double-tops finish on 100 for a 10-5 triumph.
Undeterred, De Sousa landed his sixth 180 of the contest in the following leg before sealing the deal with his only ton-plus checkout of the match.
Meanwhile, Price began his quest for a first World Matchplay title with a hard-fought 10-8 victory over Martin Schindler.
After a slow start from both players, Schindler landed a 141 checkout to break throw and level at 5-5.
Determined debutant Schindler twice held his throw to lead 6-5 and 7-6, before Price struck back-to-back 11-dart legs to take a crucial 9-7 advantage.
Schindler kept fighting, taking out 91 to stay alive, but Price shut the door on the German with a 91 checkout of his own to book his place in the last 16.
“I think I put myself under a lot of pressure by letting him off early on,” Price reflected.
“Sometimes that’s what I need to get myself going and I was playing some good darts by the end of the match.
“I’ve not been playing very well the last couple of months, as everybody knows, but today I came out fighting.
“I want to win this tournament and get back to world number one, back to where I think I deserve to be, but I’ll have to come through a few tough games to do that.”
The Welshman will take on Dave Chisnall in the second round after the five-time quarter-finalist showed his battling qualities in a 10-7 victory over Kim Huybrechts.
On his first Winter Gardens appearance since 2018, Huybrechts impressed and kept in touch with Chisnall in a game riddled with breaks of throw.
With the scores level at 7-7, Chisnall held his nerve, winning the next three legs to deny his Belgian opponent what would have been a second World Matchplay win in eight appearances.
Tuesday will see the first four second round ties take place, as a quartet of former World Matchplay champions take to the stage.
2020 champion Dimitri Van den Bergh takes on Rowby-John Rodriguez in the night’s opening game, while 2007 winner James Wade takes on Nathan Aspinall.
World number one Peter Wright meets Krzysztof Ratajski, before the final game of the night sees two-time champion Michael van Gerwen play Joe Cullen.
The action will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK, through the PDC’s worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and RTL7, and on PDCTV for Rest of the World Subscribers.
2022 Betfred World Matchplay
Monday July 18
4x First Round
Rob Cross 11-9 Chris Dobey
Jose de Sousa 10-6 Gabriel Clemens
Gerwyn Price 10-8 Martin Schindler
Dave Chisnall 10-7 Kim Huybrechts
Tuesday July 19 (1900 BST)
4x Second Round
Rowby-John Rodriguez v Dimitri Van den Bergh
James Wade v Nathan Aspinall
Peter Wright v Krzysztof Ratajski
Michael van Gerwen v Joe Cullen
Wednesday July 20 (1900 BST)
4x Second Round
Daryl Gurney v Danny Noppert
Jose de Sousa v Rob Cross
Gerwyn Price v Dave Chisnall
Michael Smith v Dirk van Duijvenbode
All matches best of 21 legs.
Each game must be won by two clear legs, with up to a maximum of five additional legs being played before the sixth additional leg is sudden-death. For example, should a Second Round game (best of 21 legs) reach 13-13, then the 27th leg would be the final and deciding leg.