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Van Barneveld opens title defence with victory

ESPN staff
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Barneveld dispatched of Evans in the opening round at the Grand Slam © PA Photos
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Raymond van Barneveld began the defence of his Grand Slam of Darts title in style by dispatching Ricky Evans 5-2 in Wolverhampton.

Van Barneveld, who ended a five-year wait for a major title at last year's event, kicked off his title defence confidently and will go into his next Group E clash with Tony O'Shea as firm favourite.

But the Dutchman insisted he was not taking his status as champion for granted against a talented opponent.

"I felt great and I'm pleased to have come through my first game with a win and to get two points," said van Barneveld. "It's fantastic to be back here again and the crowd were awesome today - the atmosphere was unreal.

"Ricky is a young player coming through the ranks and I wasn't underestimating him, and he played good darts, so I'm happy to win that."

O'Shea will go into his match with the defending champion on the back of a thrilling 5-4 win over Mervyn King.

The Stockport ace recovered from a 4-1 deficit but admitted the reaction of the crowd had been key in helping him get over the line and securing the win.

"It's a dream start winning against Mervyn," said O'Shea. "I never seem to make it easy for myself and I was prepared for a battle - I knew that the game wasn't over when I got 4-1 up and Mervyn showed his class to come back the way he did.

"I've got a terrific reception on every occasion I've played at Wolverhampton and today was no different. I really enjoyed playing in front of that atmosphere."

Elsewhere, a former Grand Slam of Darts champion kicked of his tournament with a win as Scott Waites saw off the challenge of Ted Hankey with a 5-3 win - a match which he admits tested his resolve at several key points.

"It's always a tough game against Ted as you never quite know what you're going to get, but he got up there and threw some pretty good darts," said Waites.

"There were a few nervous moments and I had a couple of darts at a match-winning double and let Ted back in the game, but I got the job done in the end.

"I love the crowd and love the stage here, and for some reason when I come to Wolverhampton I up my game, so to get off to a win is fantastic."

In the late games, four-time champion Phil Taylor was among the winners, whitewashing Stuart Kellett.

First Round Results

Kevin Painter 2-5 Paul Nicholson (Group A)
Phil Taylor 5-0 Stuart Kellett (A)
Gary Anderson 5-1 Wesley Harms (B)
James Wade 5-2 Peter Wright (B)
Christian Kist 3-5 Ronny Huybrechts (C)
Adrian Lewis 5-2 Richie George (C)
Michael van Gerwen 5-3 Vincent van der Voort (D)
Kim Huybrechts 2-5 Dean Winstanley (D)
Raymond van Barneveld 5-2 Ricky Evans (E)
Mervyn King 4-5 Tony O'Shea (E)
Robert Thornton 5-0 Mark Walsh (F)
Andy Hamilton 2-5 Justin Pipe (F)
Wes Newton 2-5 Mark Webster (G)
Simon Whitlock 5-2 Ross Smith (G)
Scott Waites 5-3 Ted Hankey (H)
Dave Chisnall 3-5 Michael Smith (H)

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