The first last-16 matches from the Grand Slam of Darts are upon us and below is a couple of previews that will hopefully find the double bed.
Scott Waites to beat Mark Webster @ 8/15
BDO World Champion Scott Waites made a mockery of the supposed gulf in class between organisations by hammering Dave Chisnall 5-1 in his final group match to go into his last-16 clash against the rejuvenated Mark Webster unbeaten.
The Halifax thrower, who went one better than his 2009 runner-up finish in this event three years ago, deservedly starts the match as favourite despite Webster showing some signs of the form that led to his inclusion in the 2011 edition of the Premier League.
Victories against Ross Smith and Wes Newton made up for an understandable defeat to Simon Whitlock, but neither of those victims were up to the level Waites is operating on at present.
Waites only gave away six legs in racking up a hat-trick of wins against Chisnall, Ted Hankey and Michael Smith and with so many good memories of the competition to call upon if the going gets tough it’s difficult to see Webster being able to prevent him from reaching the quarter-finals.
Caution does arrive in an examination of their head-to-head record which shows that Waites has not beaten his Welsh opponent since the first of their six meetings back in 2007. However, all but one of their encounters came before 2009 when Webster was playing some of his best darts and Waites was yet to emerge into the top-bed competitor he is today.
Simon Whitlock to beat Ted Hankey -3.5 legs @ 4/5
No-one will be getting rich by backing The Wizard to win the match outright at 1/5 and so it could pay to side with a convincing victory for the Australian against an out-of-his-depth Ted Hankey.
The Count has done extremely well in reaching this stage considering the most inauspicious start to his PDC career since switching organisations last year. A series of poor performances and various injuries and illnesses had left the two-time World Champion in the darting wilderness, but impressive victories against Dave Chisnall and Michael Smith seem to have brought him back from the precipice.
This, however, is a completely different challenge and it would be remarkable if the 45-year-old was able to keep it close in Wolverhampton.
Whitlock had already qualified when he lost in a meaningless deciding leg to Wes Newton in his last group match and that should not distract investors from admiring one of the best resumes in the game. Whitlock is proven at the very highest level, one which Hankey can rarely reach these days.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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