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MERVYN KING won the opening Players Championship of 2011, defeating Vincent van der Voort 6-1 at the Gerry Weber Centre in Halle.

King ended an 11-month gap between titles by claiming victory in the first of two tournaments being staged in Germany this weekend, earning £6,000 in the process.

The world number 11 came through tough battles with Patrick Bulen, Kevin Munch, Gary Welding and Mark Hylton to reach the last eight, coming from 5-3 down against Hylton before edging victory in one contest.

Having overcome Ireland^s William O^Connor 6-1 in the quarter-finals, he then knocked out world number seven Simon Whitlock 6-3 in the semis, winning five of the final six legs on his way to the win.

He then swept past van der Voort in the decider, taking out a 101 finish and double four to lead 2-0 before van der Voort hit back to take the third with the aid of a 180.

King finished 120 for the fourth, and punished three misses from the Dutchman for a 4-1 lead.

He then hit two successive 180s for six perfect darts in the next, which he won in ten darts before sealing a 6-1 victory on double four for his first title since winning back-to-back events in Swindon last February.

"It means a huge amount to me because it^s the first tournament I^ve won since losing my Dad last year, and this was for him," said King. "It^s been a tough period for me but to win an event is a huge relief.

"This is a venue I^ve been successful at before, reaching the German Darts Championship final in 2009, and it^s been good to me again.

"I wanted to make a good start to the year after dropping out of the top ten and I^ve done that. It^s a huge boost and I^d love to keep this form going."

Van der Voort^s run to the final continued his challenge for a spot in the world^s top 16 after he reached the quarter-finals of the World Darts Championship recently.

The Dutchman, who won two Players Championships on mainland Europe last year, edged past Scotland^s John Henderson 6-4 in the semis, sealing victory with a 127 finish.

He had earlier defeated Colin Osborne in a deciding leg in the quarter-finals, and also overcame World Championship semi-finalist Mark Webster, Justin Pipe and Dave Chisnall - who hit a nine-darter in their second round game.

Henderson enjoyed a superb debut on the PDC ProTour, reaching the semi-finals a fortnight after winning a Tour Card at Qualifying School in Wigan.

The Scot picked up victories against England^s Dave Smith, Greece^s John Michael and Belgium^s Kim Huybrechts before edging out Andy Smith in the quarter-finals, only to miss key doubles in the semis against van der Voort.

"I^m delighted to have reached the semi-finals," said Henderson. "I thought it may take me a few events to settle in but all the players made me feel really welcome and I^ve fitted in great, and that has helped.

"It^s a shame I didn^t go on to win but my confidence is really high after reaching the semi-finals."

Smith^s route to the last eight included a win over world number one Phil Taylor, who hit back from 4-0 down to trail 5-4 before falling to defeat in his first appearance since losing to Mark Webster in the World Championship four weeks ago.

"Andy played really well," said Taylor. "I could have been 3-1 up but I didn^t take my chances and he finished really well.

"It^s frustrating when you get beaten but sometimes it gives you a kick up the backside. I^m still a little bit off my form but other players, like Andy, are playing really well too.

"I^ve got some new darts which I need to practice more with because I haven^t had a lot of time with them yet. I^ve got some hard work to do and I^ll put it right."

Australian Simon Whitlock made a strong start to the new year, with his run to the last four including a fine 6-1 quarter-final victory over five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld.

Like Henderson, another PDC newcomer Dave Chisnall also made an immediate impact on his PDC ProTour debut, hitting a nine-dart finish during a narrow loss to van der Voort, earning him a £1,200 bonus.

Ireland^s Willie O^Connor reached his second Players Championship quarter-final, while namesake Shane O^Connor was one of three youngsters who won through the recent Qualifying School to progress to the last 32, alongside Shaun Griffiths and Adam Smith-Neale.

Play continues with a second £35,000 Players Championship on Sunday at the Gerry Weber Centre.

Players Championship 1 - Halle, Saturday
Preliminary Round
Lothar Freiberger 6-2 Christian Braumer
Karsten Koch 6-2 Vedran Dukic
Lucio Rave 6-1 Karsten Kornath
Olaf Fiss 6-5 Dietmar Burger
Richard van Zijtveld 6-4 Lars Erkelenz
Remco van Eijden 6-0 Marcel Radmer
Armend Avdija 6-4 Mario Hermann
Marcel Ruiters 6-4 Kai Hanus
Johnny Okken 6-2 Matheus Ziolkowski
Christian Kruger 6-0 Wolfgang Pelzer
Michael Rasztovits 6-5 Peter Martin
Johann Honner 6-5 Jasmin Beganovic
Boris Krcmar 6-2 Sebastian Lemmer
Jan-Guldsten Hansen 6-1 Christian Bachmeier
Rocco Maes 6-1 Dennis Crook
Stefan Schaffer 6-4 Michael Peters
Patrick Bulen 6-3 Kai Nithammer
Mareno Michels 6-5 Vladimir Andersen
Kevin Munch 6-1 Dieter Proksch
Roland Kurok 6-3 Wolfgang Honert
Christian Kallinger 6-3 Jann Hoffmann
Sladan Nedic 6-1 Gerhard Kremer
Simon Craven 6-0 Hans-Christian Paffrath
Reinhard Timmermann 6-5 Martin Santamaria
Stefan Nilles 6-0 Markus Hoffmann
Antonio Justicia 6-4 Erwin Renkema
Sebastijan Pecjak 6-0 Markus Reither
Gregor Gorjup 6-3 Huseyin Zengin
Stefanie Luck 6-1 Frank Liebeton
John Michael 6-1 Sabrina Sporle
Davyd Venken 6-0 Heiko Gallinat
Maik Langendorf 6-0 Frank Eisentrager
Kim Huybrechts 6-1 Rene Hellmich
Detlef Barchanowitz 6-2 Marko Balzer
Ingo Vogt 6-2 Zeki Tatli
Tonci Restovic 6-3 Peter Trapp
Patrick Langbecker 6-1 Arno Merk
Jon Archer 6-4 Ronnie Volkenant

First Round
Simon Whitlock (1) 6-0 Lothar Freiberger
Peter Manley 6-4 Wayne Mardle
Steve Hine (32) 6-0 Karsten Koch
Steve Evans 6-4 Par Riihonen
Mark Dudbridge (16) 6-4 Lucio Rave
Arron Monk 6-4 Mick Todd
Alan Tabern (17) 6-1 Olaf Fiss
Peter Wright 6-1 Richard van Zijtveld
Ronnie Baxter (8) 6-5 Remco van Eijden
Magnus Caris 6-3 Andree Welge
Jelle Klaasen (25) 6-1 Armend Avdija
Tomas Seyler 6-2 Adrian Gray
Denis Ovens (9) 6-4 Marcel Ruiters
Raymond van Barneveld 6-0 Marko Kantele
Steve Brown (24) 6-2 Johnny Okken
Ian White 6-2 Dylan Duo
Mark Walsh (5) 6-0 Christian Kruger
William O^Connor 6-1 Devon Petersen
Paul Nicholson (28) 6-3 Michael Rasztovits
Adam Smith-Neale 6-4 Jyhan Artut
Wayne Jones (12) 6-2 Johann Honner
Shane O^Connor 6-4 Scott Rand
Terry Jenkins (21) 6-3 Boris Krcmar
Michael Rosenauer 6-3 Jan-Guldsten Hansen
Wes Newton (4) 6-1 Rocco Maes
Matt Padgett 6-2 Carlos Rodriguez
Dennis Smith (29) 6-1 Stefan Schaffer
Gary Welding 6-4 Dave Ladley
Mervyn King (13) 6-3 Patrick Bulen
Mark Hylton 6-2 Chris Thompson
Steve Beaton (20) 6-3 Mareno Michels
Kevin Munch 6-2 Andy Jenkins
Colin Lloyd (2) 6-4 Roland Kurok
Shaun Griffiths 6-3 Darren Johnson
Brendan Dolan (31) 6-1 Christian Kallinger
Kirk Shepherd 6-3 John Part
Kevin Painter (15) 6-1 Sladan Nedic
Per Laursen 6-4 Antonio Alcinas
Colin Osborne (18) 6-3 Simon Craven
Bernd Roith 6-4 Richard Timmermann
Vincent van der Voort (7) 6-1 Stefan Nilles
Dave Chisnall 6-2 Michael Smith
Justin Pipe (26) 6-3 Antonio Justicia
Kevin McDine 6-2 Nandor Bezzeg
Mark Webster (10) 6-4 Sebastijan Pecjak
Mensur Suljovic 6-2 Nick Fullwell
Gregor Gorjup 6-4 Richie Burnett (23)
Steve Maish 6-3 Martyn Turner
Jamie Caven (6) 6-2 Stefanie Luck
Steve Grubb 6-4 Roland Scholten
John Michael 6-2 Tony Eccles (27)
John Henderson 6-3 Dave Smith
Andy Hamilton (11) 6-4 Davyd Venken
Michael van Gerwen 6-4 Joe Cullen
Barrie Bates (22) 6-4 Maik Langendorf
Kim Huybrechts 6-5 Prakash Jiwa
Phil Taylor (3) 6-0 Detlef Barchanowitz
Wayne Atwood 6-4 Brian Woods
Nigel Heydon (30) 6-2 Ingo Vogt
Aodhagan O^Neill 6-0 Matthias Jacobi
Tonci Restovic 6-2 Co Stompe (14)
Robert Marijanovic 6-1 Albin Kulasic
Andy Smith (19) 6-0 Patrick Langbecker
Jon Archer 6-2 Rudiger Lohse

Second Round
Simon Whitlock 6-2 Peter Manley
Steve Evans 6-2 Steve Hine
Mark Dudbridge 6-5 Arron Monk
Alan Tabern 6-4 Peter Wright
Ronnie Baxter 6-5 Magnus Caris
Jelle Klaasen 6-5 Tomas Seyler
Raymond van Barneveld 6-3 Denis Ovens
Steve Brown 6-1 Ian White
William O^Connor 6-5 Mark Walsh
Adam Smith-Neale 6-2 Paul Nicholson
Shane O^Connor 6-5 Wayne Jones
Terry Jenkins 6-4 Michael Rosenauer
Wes Newton 6-3 Matt Padgett
Gary Welding 6-4 Dennis Smith
Mervyn King 6-5 Mark Hylton
Kevin Munch 6-5 Steve Beaton
Shaun Griffiths 6-4 Colin Lloyd
Kirk Shepherd 6-5 Brendan Dolan
Kevin Painter 6-2 Per Laursen
Colin Osborne 6-2 Bernd Roith
Vincent van der Voort 6-5 Dave Chisnall - Dave Chisnall hits nine-darter
Justin Pipe 6-3 Kevin McDine
Mark Webster 6-4 Mensur Suljovic
Steve Maish 6-0 Gregor Gorjup
Steve Grubb 6-5 Jamie Caven
John Henderson 6-5 John Michael
Andy Hamilton 6-2 Michael van Gerwen
Kim Huybrects 6-5 Barrie Bates
Phil Taylor 6-1 Wayne Atwood
Aodhagan O^Neill 6-4 Nigel Heydon
Tonci Restovic 6-4 Robert Marijanovic
Andy Smith 6-0 Jon Archer
Losers £200

Third Round
Simon Whitlock 6-3 Steve Evans
Alan Tabern 6-2 Mark Dudbridge
Jelle Klaasen 6-2 Ronnie Baxter
Raymond van Barneveld 6-2 Steve Brown
William O^Connor 6-3 Adam Smith-Neale
Terry Jenkins 6-4 Shane O^Connor
Gary Welding 6-3 Wes Newton
Mervyn King 6-3 Kevin Munch
Kirk Shepherd 6-4 Shaun Griffiths
Colin Osborne 6-3 Kevin Painter
Vincent van der Voort 6-3 Justin Pipe
Mark Webster 6-3 Steve Maish
John Henderson 6-2 Steve Grubb
Kim Huybrechts 6-3 Andy Hamilton
Phil Taylor 6-2 Aodhagan O^Neill
Andy Smith 6-2 Tonci Restovic
Losers £400

Fourth Round
Simon Whitlock 6-3 Alan Tabern
Raymond van Barneveld 6-3 Jelle Klaasen
William O^Connor 6-5 Terry Jenkins
Mervyn King 6-4 Gary Welding
Colin Osborne 6-3 Kirk Shepherd
Vincent van der Voort 6-4 Mark Webster
John Henderson 6-5 Kim Huybrechts
Andy Smith 6-4 Phil Taylor
Losers £600

Simon Whitlock 6-1 Raymond van Barneveld
Mervyn King 6-1 William O^Connor
Vincent van der Voort 6-5 Colin Osborne
John Henderson 6-5 Andy Smith
Losers £1,000

Mervyn King 6-3 Simon Whitlock
Vincent van der Voort 6-4 John Henderson
Losers £2,000

Mervyn King 6-1 Vincent van der Voort
Winner £6,000
Runner-Up £3,000

Match Information
Simon Whitlock 3-6 Mervyn King
1-0 - Whitlock finishes 102 to hold throw
1-1 - King checks out double 18 to level
2-1 - Whitlock hits a 180 and finishes 96 in two darts
2-2 - King replies with a 180 before levelling on double two
2-3 - King breaks for the first time in the game, hitting another maximum and double eight
2-4 - Double top puts King two legs clear
3-4 - Whitlock hits back with double 16, following his second 180 of the game earlier in the leg
3-5 - King finishes 100 to move a leg away from the win
3-6 - Whitlock misses the bullseye for a 116 finish and King checks out double six with his third dart for victory

Vincent van der Voort 6-4 John Henderson
1-0 - van der Voort breaks on double top, hitting the finish at the fifth time of asking following a missed double five, for a 95 finish, from Henderson
2-0 - The Dutchman lands double top again to extend his lead
2-1 - Henderson hits a 180 in an 11-darter to get off the mark, as he takes out 81 in two darts
2-2 - The Scot takes out 81 for the second successive leg as he levels
3-2 - van der Voort punishes three misses from Henderson with double ten to lead again
4-2 - van der Voort moves two clear with double four at the third time of asking
4-3 - Henderson finishes double ten for a third leg
5-3 - The Dutchman checks out 77 on double ten to move to the brink of victory
5-4 - Henderson keeps the game alive with double top
6-4 - Henderson hits another maximum but misses three darts at double 12 and van der Voort takes out 127 on double eight for a place in the final

Mervyn King 6-1 Vincent van der Voort
1-0 - King takes out 101 for the first leg
2-0 - Double four sees King break throw to extend his lead
2-1 - van der Voort breaks back on double eight after hitting a 180
3-1 - King checks out 120 for another break
4-1 - van der Voort opens the fifth leg with a 180 but misses three darts at a double and King steps in on double eight
5-1 - King checks out a brilliant ten-dart finish, opening with back-to-back 180s, and hitting a 125 before landing double eight
6-1 - King pulls clear with two 140s and lands double four to take the win

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