By his own admission, Glen Durrant is his own worst critic. To run off six out of eight legs, and hit 6/9 on the finishing doubles, to knock out one of the in-form players in Krzysztof Ratajski, and after coming from a set behind, to win on your World Grand Prix debut, deserves some recognition.
The reigning BDO world champion made his first appearance in another PDC major last night, as he tackled the double-start format, unique to the World Grand Prix, in Dublin, and came through the first hurdle. But he did not have it all his own way.
Ratajski, the Polish number one, who was also making his debut in this event, arrived at the Citywest with his confidence sky high after winning the Gibraltar Darts Trophy, the last tournament on this year’s European Tour, only a few weeks earlier.
The performances Ratajski, a former World Master, put in on that final session in Gibraltar, coupled with Durrant’s impressive run at Blackpool in the summer, led many to label it as one of the ties of the first round.
But in the early exchanges, the match threatened to be a procession. Ratajski rattled off three consecutive 15-dart legs, the first and third punctuated with 100-plus finishes, to sweep the first set 3-0.
Durrant’s remaining score after each leg in the first set read: 156, 84 and 105. He had yet to have a shot at a checkout, let alone a finishing double. Yet one crumb of comfort he could take was that he was getting away quickly – he pinned double 16 first dart in each of the first three legs, it was just his scoring which was letting him down.
Could Ratajski continue that fine run of 15-dart legs after the break? No, he couldn’t. He went the first seven darts without scoring, which gave Durrant enough breathing space to get off the mark at the start of set two.
Ratajski replied with a 13-darter to show signs of his immediate demise were premature, but at this point Durrant was starting to go through the gears. A 13-darter of his own put him 2-1 up in the set and, after Ratajski missed two at double 18 for 2-2, Durrant was waiting to punish. A 119 setup shot from 151 left 32, which he hit first dart to force a third and final set.
Durrant’s opening throws in legs one and two, of 112 and 152, helped him establish a 2-0 lead, and a crucial break in a set in which Ratajski started first, and after the Pole missed two at double 19 to level at 2-2, Durrant was there to finish off 98 on the same target to book his place in round two.
His run to the World Matchplay semi-finals in July saw him battle through a nightmare draw. Adrian Lewis, round one. Michael van Gerwen, round two. James Wade, quarter-finals, before bowing out to Michael Smith.
If Durrant is to repeat that feat here in Dublin this week, it will be another tough route. Rob Cross, the world number two, waits in the last 16, then possibly Peter Wright in the last eight.
His double-in stats, take away the fourth leg of the second set, when Durrant missed his first six, and Ratajski his first seven, to get in, were world class: 10/13. Add to that he was 6/9 when getting down to a double.
Durrant will need to up his scoring when he does get in, which he eluded to afterwards. Three 140+ scores and zero maximums, while his next opponent Cross fired in five 140+ scores and four maximums in his first-round win against Mensur Suljovic last night.
Durrant has shown his battling qualities before in his past major wins over in the BDO, and of course that now infamous win at Q-School against Matthew Dennant, with his PDC tour card on the line at the start of this year.
It may not have been a flawless performance last night, but Durrant is still in the running in Dublin. Four more wins this week and he will be a PDC major winner.
Picture: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
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