RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD hit the two biggest finishes of the William Hill World Darts Championship so far as he defeated Rowby-John Rodriguez 3-0 in the first round on Monday, while Michael Smith hit the most 180s in a match to edge out Mensur Suljovic.

Jamie Caven will have the task of facing van Barneveld next after the Dutchman hit 167 and 170 finishes in his victory, while Smith, whose nine 180s are the most by any player so far, will take on Brendan Dolan in round two after the Northern Irish ace whitewashed Nolan Arendse.

Five-time World Champion van Barneveld had been playing wearing glasses in past two months, but successfully reverted to playing without them as he averaged 99.93, hit three 180s and hit 50 percent of his doubles.

Austrian debutant Rodriguez only managed to take two legs from van Barneveld, who gave his opponent no chance whatsoever in the third set as he threw three straight 12-darters and that 170 to finish.

Van Barneveld drew first blood with a double 16 in the first leg, but Rodriguez – the World Youth Championship finalist – showed his talent with a 180 and double top to level.

Dutchman van Barneveld responded with a double four and then a 95 outshot to give him the opening set, only for Rodriguez to open up the second with a fine 14-darter.

The 2007 champion, though, answered with a superb 167 checkout – at that stage the highest in the tournament so far this year – before following a 14-darter by hitting double 16 to take a high-quality set.

The third would prove to be even better though, with three 12-darters seeing him cruise to victory, the first two involving 180s and the third being completed in some style with the maximum 170 finish.

“I tried to play in three tournaments in glasses and I never ever felt comfortable,” said van Barneveld. “The view is fantastic, it’s like playing in HD, but tonight I’ve hit a 167 and 170 without glasses and I feel brilliant after that.

“You want to win before Christmas, you want to go home happy and celebrate with your family and be happy, you don’t want to lose and go home for Christmas after losing.

“I fly back tomorrow and have a day off but will be back practising soon, because this is the big one that we all want to win so there’s no time to rest.”

As van Barneveld hit his superb finishes, Michael Smith set the tournament benchmark for 180s with nine during his tough 3-1 win over Mensur Suljovic, where all four sets went the full five legs.

Suljovic had a slightly better average of 98.91 than Smith’s 97.47 and also had a higher checkout percentage of 60 to Smith’s 50, but it was all to no avail as the St Helens ace progressed.

It was no easy ride for former World Youth Champion Smith, with all four sets going the distance, but he crucially Smith broke the Suljovic throw twice while losing his own just the once.

Suljovic won the first set by finishing double eight in the decider, despite an earlier 13-darter from Smith and a 120 finish from the Austrian.

The second saw Smith’s opening 12-darter bettered by an 11-dart finish from Suljovic, who also levelled in leg four with a 12-darter only to see his rival edge the decider in style with a 13-dart leg.

It was a similar story in the third set, as Suljovic took out 76 and 56 either side of a Smith 124 in the third, only to see the youngster land 180s in the next two as a break of throw in the decider gave him the set against the darts.

Suljovic led in the fourth set courtesy of a 14-darter, with Smith replying in 11 darts to level before finishing double six to move a leg away from the win, and though another 14-darter kept the Austrian’s hopes alive it was the former World Youth Champion who fired in a 180 before taking out 76 on the bull to seal an impressive win.

“Two years ago I wouldn’t have won that match, but I just had my head focused on the game, I wasn’t distracted and I just stuck to my game,” said Smith.

“I wasn’t getting too carried away or too down on myself in the match, even though he was playing well and putting me under pressure, so I just kept calm and hit the crucial doubles when I needed to.”

Jamie Caven is next up for van Barneveld after he had more than a few problems with his doubles as well as with shaking off Jason Hogg before completing a 3-2 victory in the first round.

Caven hit four 180s to debutant Hogg’s five, as the Aberdeen ace averaged 84 to his rival’s 80, but it was finishing off the legs that proved to be the most difficult for both men.

Number 19 seed Caven was way down at 24 percent as he hit just 11 of 46 attempts, but his quality shone through despite being being pushed all the way.

Caven had enjoyed a clean sweep in the first set, only for Hogg to reply in kind in the second as he levelled the game with a 13-darter in a 3-0 set.

Hogg also landed a 14-dart finish in set four, only for Caven to take the set 3-1 with a break of throw in the fourth leg as he edged back ahead.

Hogg edged the fourth in a deciding leg as he took the game all the way, and though Caven endured some nervous moments on his doubles in taking a 2-0 lead in the final set, he replied to a 14-darter from the Scot with two 180s in a fine 12-darter to seal his second round spot.

“I never played at my best at all and the doubles were a problem but I’ve played better than that and lost here so you just have to take the win, and come back stronger and hopefully playing better next time,” he said.

“I can enjoy my Christmas now – I’ve made the second round before but the schedule has always meant that I’ve played my second round before Christmas, so it’ll be nice going home knowing I’ll be back here afterwards.”

Brendan Dolan enjoyed the first whitewash of the tournament as he won nine straight legs to overcome South African Masters champion Nolan Arendse 3-0.

Arendse, on his World Championship debut, had enjoyed a strong performance as he won 4-0 in his preliminary round clash with Hong Kong’s Alex Hon, but was unable to upset the Northern Irish ace, who averaged over 90 and hit almost half of his attempts at doubles.

After a scrappy first leg, Dolan took out 80 to go two legs up and then followed it up with a 13-darter to seal the set with the minimum of fuss.

Dolan hit his first 180 of the match at the start of the second set and then finished 108 to keep the momentum going, following up with double eight in the second and double 16 in the next as Arendse was left stranded on tops in successive legs.

Dolan finished double ten to claim the opening leg of set three, landed a 180 in the next and double 16 to sealing the whitewash win and set up a second round clash with Michael Smith.

“It wasn’t as fluent as I wanted it to be but I did enough to get the job done,” said Dolan. “I knew I had to start strongly and bully him so he couldn’t bully me.

“That’s what I did – I started strongly and hit a few doubles to get ahead and I stayed there. Nolan played well in his preliminary round match so I didn’t want him to get going as I know he is a good player.”

The preliminary and first rounds conclude on Tuesday with the remaining five games, including two-time World Champion Adrian Lewis up against debutant David Pallett.

Lakeside Champion Stephen Bunting makes his Alexandra Palace debut against either Jermaine Wattimena or Robert Marijanovic, with Mervyn King meeting Max Hopp and Vincent van der Voort playing John Henderson.

WILLIAM HILL WORLD DARTS CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS

Preliminary & First Rounds
Monday December 22
Jamie Caven (19) 3-2 Jason Hogg
Nolan Arendse 4-0 Alex Hon (P)
Michael Smith (22) 3-1 Mensur Suljovic
Raymond van Barneveld (14) 3-0 Rowby-John Rodriguez
Brendan Dolan (11) 3-0 Nolan Arendse

Tuesday December 23
Vincent van der Voort (23) v John Henderson
Jermain Wattimena v Robert Marijanovic (P)
Mervyn King (10) v Max Hopp
Adrian Lewis (3) v David Pallett
Stephen Bunting (27) v Wattimena/Marijanovic

MATCH INFORMATION
JAMIE CAVEN 3-2 JASON HOGG
(3-0, 0-3, 3-1, 2-3, 3-1)

JAMIE CAVEN had more than a few problems with his doubles as well as with shaking off Jason Hogg before completing a 3-2 victory in the first round of the William Hill World Darts Championship.

Caven hit four 180s to debutant Hogg’s five, as the Aberdeen ace averaged 84 to his rival’s 80, but it was finishing off the legs that proved to be the most difficult for both men.

Number 19 seed Caven was way down at 24 percent as he hit just 11 of 46 attempts, but his quality shone through despite being being pushed all the way.

Caven had enjoyed a clean sweep in the first set, only for Hogg to reply in kind in the second as he levelled the game with a 13-darter in a 3-0 set.

Hogg also landed a 14-dart finish in set four, only for Caven to take the set 3-1 with a break of throw in the fourth leg as he edged back ahead.

Hogg edged the fourth in a deciding leg as he took the game all the way, and though Caven endured some nervous moments on his doubles in taking a 2-0 lead in the final set, he replied to a 14-darter from the Scot with two 180s in a fine 12-darter to seal his second round spot.

“I never played at my best at all and the doubles were a problem but I’ve played better than that and lost here so you just have to take the win, and come back stronger and hopefully playing better next time,” he said.

“I can enjoy my Christmas now – I’ve made the second round before but the schedule has always meant that I’ve played my second round before Christmas, so it’ll be nice going home knowing I’ll be back here afterwards.”

Match Information
First Set 3-0 – Decent scoring from Caven, hitting a 180 in the first and 177 in the second, although he has some double trouble with just three of 13 doubles. Hogg hits a 180 but also misses four doubles.
Second Set 0-3 – Hogg hits back with some good scoring and finishing. A 180 in the first leads to a 20 finish. Caven misses two doubles and Hogg checks out 63, before Hogg hits another 180 and checks out on tops for a 13-darter.
Third Set 3-1 – More doubling trouble for Caven, but Hogg lets him off the hook. Hogg hits 177, 180 and takes out 32 for the second leg. Caven responds with a 77 outshot and takes the set with double four after both men missed three doubles.
Fourth Set 2-3 – A 180 from Caven helps him take out tops for 1-1. Hogg answers with 180 and double eight. Caven levels again after Hogg missed darts for the set, but Hogg takes it out next time by hitting double ten.
Fifth Set 3-1 – Caven takes it but not without more double trouble. Hogg’s 76 outshout keeps him in the match, but Caven hits two 180s in the next and finishies double eight at the third attempt for a 12-darter.

NOLAN ARENDSE 4-0 ALEX HON

SOUTH AFRICAN Nolan Arendse booked his place in the first round of the William Hill World Darts Championship with a 4-0 whitewash over Alex Hon.

Arendse hit 60 in the first leg, and never looked back as Hon failed to hit back on his World Championship debut.

After going 2-0 up, Arendse then took out double 18 to make it three, after Hon had hit the only 180 of the match.

Arendse suffered some nerves trying to get across the finish line, missing three doubles for the match, but he connected with his fourth to progress to a match against Brendan Dolan.

Arendse averaged 84.68 and hit four of his nine doubles, while Hon averaged 79.22 and had real trouble finishing off as he missed ten doubles in the match.

MICHAEL SMITH 3-1 MENSUR SULJOVIC
(2-3, 3-2, 3-2, 3-2)
MICHAEL SMITH hit nine 180s to get the better of Mensur Suljovic as he overcame what was a potential banana skin to win 3-1 in the first round of the William Hill World Darts Championship.

Smith set the tournament benchmark for 180s with nine during his tough 3-1 win over Mensur Suljovic, where all four sets went the full five legs.

Suljovic had a slightly better average of 98.91 than Smith’s 97.47 and also had a higher checkout percentage of 60 to Smith’s 50, but it was all to no avail as the St Helens ace progressed.

It was no easy ride for former World Youth Champion Smith, with all four sets going the distance, but he crucially Smith broke the Suljovic throw twice while losing his own just the once.

Suljovic won the first set by finishing double eight in the decider, despite an earlier 13-darter from Smith and a 120 finish from the Austrian.

The second saw Smith’s opening 12-darter bettered by an 11-dart finish from Suljovic, who also levelled in leg four with a 12-darter only to see his rival edge the decider in style with a 13-dart leg.

It was a similar story in the third set, as Suljovic took out 76 and 56 either side of a Smith 124 in the third, only to see the youngster land 180s in the next two as a break of throw in the decider gave him the set against the darts.

Suljovic led in the fourth set courtesy of a 14-darter, with Smith replying in 11 darts to level before finishing double six to move a leg away from the win, and though another 14-darter kept the Austrian’s hopes alive it was the former World Youth Champion who fired in a 180 before taking out 76 on the bull to seal an impressive win.

“Two years ago I wouldn’t have won that match, but I just had my head focused on the game, I wasn’t distracted and I just stuck to my game,” said Smith.

“I wasn’t getting too carried away or too down on myself in the match, even though he was playing well and putting me under pressure, so I just kept calm and hit the crucial doubles when I needed to.”

Match Information
First Set 2-3 – An upset in the first leg as Suljovic takes it in the deciding leg by checking out 32. Smith hits 180 in the first but loses that, and after he levels Suljovic hits a “Shanghai” 120 before Smith forces the decider.
Second Set 3-2 – Quality stuff from both players in set two. A 180 helps Smith to the first, a 180 and 92 outshot gives Suljovic the second, who then answers with a 148, 180 and double 18 for a 12-darter. Smith hits 180, 140 in the decider though to take it.
Third Set 3-2 – A 180 and 76 outshot for Suljovic, a 12-darter for Smith on a 124 finish levels. Suljovic misses two set darts as Smith hits a 18 and double five. The decider sees the first break of throw in the match, Smith takes it after a third 180 of the set and 68 outshot.
Fourth Set 3-2 – 72 for Suljovic, Smith replies with a 180 and 54 finish. Another 180 is not enough for Smith to force another decider, but he hits 180 again and 76 on the Bull to win.

RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD 3-0 ROWBY-JOHN RODRIGUEZ
(3-1, 3-1, 3-0)
RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD ditched his glasses and the move paid off as he hit the two highest finishes in the tournament of 167 and 170 as he dispatched youngster Rowby-John Rodriguez 3-0 in the first round of the William Hill World Darts Championship.

Five-time World Champion van Barneveld had been playing wearing glasses in past two months, but successfully reverted to playing without them as he averaged 99.93, hit three 180s and hit 50 percent of his doubles.

Austrian debutant Rodriguez only managed to take two legs from van Barneveld, who gave his opponent no chance whatsoever in the third set as he threw three straight 12-darters and that 170 to finish.

Van Barneveld drew first blood with a double 16 in the first leg, but Rodriguez – the World Youth Championship finalist – showed his talent with a 180 and double top to level.

Dutchman van Barneveld responded with a double four and then a 95 outshot to give him the opening set, only for Rodriguez to open up the second with a fine 14-darter.

The 2007 champion, though, answered with a superb 167 checkout – at that stage the highest in the tournament so far this year – before following a 14-darter by hitting double 16 to take a high-quality set.

The third would prove to be even better though, with three 12-darters seeing him cruise to victory, the first two involving 180s and the third being completed in some style with the maximum 170 finish.

“I tried to play in three tournaments in glasses and I never ever felt comfortable,” said van Barneveld. “The view is fantastic, it’s like playing in HD, but tonight I’ve hit a 167 and 170 without glasses and I feel brilliant after that.

“You want to win before Christmas, you want to go home happy and celebrate with your family and be happy, you don’t want to lose and go home for Christmas after losing.

“I fly back tomorrow and have a day off but will be back practising soon, because this is the big one that we all want to win so there’s no time to rest.”

Match Information
First Set 3-1 – First blood to Barney, taking out 32. Rodriguez hits a 180 and takes the second leg with tops. Barney takes the next two with 95 sealing the set.
Second Set 3-1 – Barney takes out 167 in the set to level after Rodriguez led. Double 18 puts the Dutchman in front and a 180 and double 16 give him the set.
Third Set 3-0 – Great set from Barney, who hits a 180 in the first and second, an 81 finish in the second and a 170 in the third.

BRENDAN DOLAN 3-0 NOLAN ARENDSE
(3-0, 3-0, 3-0)
BRENDAN DOLAN enjoyed the first whitewash of the William Hill World Darts Championship as he won nine straight legs to defeat South African Masters Nolan Arendse 3-0.

Arendse, on his World Championship debut, had enjoyed a strong performance as he won 4-0 in his preliminary round clash with Hong Kong’s Alex Hon, but was unable to upset the Northern Irish ace, who averaged over 90 and hit almost half of his attempts at doubles.

After a scrappy first leg, Dolan took out 80 to go two legs up and then followed it up with a 13-darter to seal the set with the minimum of fuss.

Dolan hit his first 180 of the match at the start of the second set and then finished 108 to keep the momentum going, following up with double eight in the second and double 16 in the next as Arendse was left stranded on tops in successive legs.

Dolan finished double ten to claim the opening leg of set three, landed a 180 in the next and double 16 to sealing the whitewash win and set up a second round clash with Michael Smith.

“It wasn’t as fluent as I wanted it to be but I did enough to get the job done,” said Dolan. “I knew I had to start strongly and bully him so he couldn’t bully me.

“That’s what I did – I started strongly and hit a few doubles to get ahead and I stayed there. Nolan played well in his preliminary round match so I didn’t want him to get going as I know he is a good player.”

Match Information
First Set 3-0 – Comfortable first set for Dolan, with the highlight being an 80 checkout
Second Set 3-0 – More of the same as Dolan hits a 180 and 108 outshot to start the second set, then mops up 48 for the set.
Third Set 3-0 – Dolan misses a few more doubles than usual as he struggles to keep focus at the start of the set. He hits a 180 and doubles 16 in the next and completes the whiewash with a 52 outshot.