World number three Gerwyn Price survived an Ally Pally scare on Monday night as he came from behind to beat Welsh compatriot Jamie Lewis.
Price has enjoyed his best year as a professional and entered the World Championship as one of the outstanding favourites to lift the Sid Waddell Trophy.
However, ‘The Iceman’ soon found himself on the back foot as ‘The Fireball’ Lewis blazed a trail to take the first set in fine style.
Price hit back to win the next two sets with some exceptional three-figure checkouts but former semi-finalist Lewis was not to be outdone, averaging 104 to win all three legs of the fourth set to force a decider.
Lewis looked poised to draw first blood in the fifth and final set but hit treble 16, allowing Price to take out 72, before ‘The Iceman’ punished three missed darts from Lewis with a thrilling 116 finish to move one leg away from the third round.
Price completed the job in routine fashion to set up a clash with either Brendan Dolan or Edward Foulkes in the next round and he is now a
11/2 chance to become champion of the world for the first time.
Ratajski could be a Contender
The Welshman was joined in the last 32 by fellow seeds Krzysztof Ratajski, Kim Huybrechts and Gabriel Clemens, who all recorded comfortable victories on Monday.
Polish ace Ratajski, who is
33/1 to become the king of Alexandra Palace, highlighted his title credentials with a 3-0 rout of Ryan Joyce, averaging over 100 and checking out at over 50 per cent.
Next up for the ‘Polish Eagle’ is either former finalist Simon Whitlock or Darius Labanauskas.
Huybrechts will play Ryan Searle on Sunday after ‘The Hurricane’ whipped up a storm in a high-scoring clash with Ian White.
Both players posted ton-plus averages but it was the Belgians’ superior finishing that proved pivotal.
21/20 to win his last-32 clash with Searle.
Gabriel Clemens was Monday night’s final qualifier, beating Nico Kurz 3-1 in an all-German showdown in north London to set up a heavyweight clash with defending world champion Peter Wright.
Cross among the Tuesday night Highlights
There is no lull in the action on Tuesday evening with former world champion Rob Cross starting his campaign in the tie of the night against World Grand Prix runner-up Dirk van Duijvenbode.
The Dutchman has come of age among the PDC ranks and fifth seed Cross could perhaps not have wished for a tougher second-round opponent.
Bookmakers are struggling to split the pair and it could take a fifth and final set to split them, so
31/20 about there being over 4.5 sets looks worth taking.
‘Singapore Slinger’ Paul Lim continues to roll back the years and the 66-year-old could win at least a set against World Matchplay champion Dmitri van den Bergh.
Lim toppled two-time quarter-finalist Luke Humphries in round one and looks worthy of interest at
50/59 with a 2.5-set start on the handicap.
*All odds correct at time of writing.