• World Darts Championship

Whitlock brushes injury aside to cruise into round two

ESPN staff
December 21, 2011 « Summers gifts Charlton a Christmas miracle | Chartbeat test »
Simon Whitlock demolished Dennis Smith, despite suffering with injury © Getty Images
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Simon Whitlock shrugged off an ankle injury to power into the second round of the World Darts Championship with a 3-0 destruction of Dennis Smith.

The Wizard, playing for the first time since breaking his ankle in August, looked in discomfort throughout the first-round encounter as he limped to and from the oche.

However, an average of 105 tells its own story; the Australian played with abandon and it quickly became apparent the two-time finalist's game was not being hampered by his injury.

Whitlock broke in the first leg and then took the first set with a 14-darter. Smith had opportunities to get a foothold in the match in the second but he could not find his range when searching for the crucial doubles, allowing Whitlock to capitalise and take the set 3-0.

Whitlock's momentum continued in the third: checkouts of 125 and 83 the highlights in another one-sided session, with the two-time runner-up setting up a meeting with 28th seed Steve Beaton.

"I'm absolutely amazed because a week ago I couldn't even hit three 20s. I don't know how I did it," Whitlock told Sky Sports. "I've got a lot to lose, I'm defending £100,000 [in the rankings] and I want to be in the Premier League.

"My name hasn't even been mentioned for the Premier League and I want that so bad you wouldn't believe it. I'm just so determined to do well, even with a broken leg.

"Just walking in the last week has been hard work for me, so I'm amazed I've actually got to the stage to play. I've got a broken leg but not a broken heart - I can still throw darts!"

Three-time world champion John Part wasted no time in booking himself a place in the second round, dispatching John Henderson with consummate ease. Henderson cut an anxious figure throughout, perhaps overawed by his first appearance at the Alexandra Palace, and, although his scoring was not an issue, his poor finishing cost him dear.

Part took full advantage as his opponent battled his nerves, dropping only two legs en route to a 3-0 rout to set up a clash with Richie Burnett.

In the evening's opener, Scott Rand, making his World Championship debut, whitewashed Andy Smith 3-0. Rand started like a train, taking out bullseye to claim the first leg of the match and he did not look back, punishing Smith - who made the last 16 at last year's tournament - for failing to hit his doubles to power into round two without dropping a single leg.

Rand said: "I really enjoyed playing on the big stage tonight and I'm here to win this Championship, not make up the numbers. I take the game seriously and want to make darts my full-time occupation."

In the final match of the night, Devon Peterson was unable to ensure all the night's games finished 3-0 - coming from two legs down in the final set to eventually beat Steve Brown 3-2 in an entertaining encounter.

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