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PHIL TAYLOR avoided a scare from Japan^s Haruki Muramatsu as he began his bid for glory at the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship on Friday night, as Wes Newton, Justin Pipe and Co Stompe joined him in the second round.

Japanese number one Muramatsu set up a dream clash with 15-time World Champion Taylor by seeing off former Sweden^s Strongest Man Dennis Nilsson 4-2 in the preliminary round at Alexandra Palace.

The 34-year-old from Iwate shared the first two legs but missed his chance to lead with one stray dart at tops in the third, as Taylor recovered to take two successive legs for the first set.

The Japanese ace then led in the next two sets, but Taylor - who was cheered on by Chelsea footballer Michael Essien - was too strong to secure victory with a 99.98 average as he set up a secound round clash with either Mark Dudbridge or Dave Chisnall after Christmas.

"It^s a relief to get that out of the way," admitted Taylor. "He^s a good player and put me under a little bit of pressure and I had to keep my concentration and make sure I did the job.

"It was a test for me and a tough first round. I can relax a but now and enjoy Christmas, but I^ll be practising every day to get ready for the next round."

World number seven Wes Newton, June^s UK Open finalist, defeated Belgian debutant Kurt Van De Rijck in straight sets, although the newcomer forced some nervous moments for the Fleetwood ace by taking two sets to a deciding leg.

Emerging star Justin Pipe had to come from a set down against Australian Grand Prix champion Sean Reed before taking a 3-1 victory in a hard-fought contest.

The night^s other game saw Dutchman Co Stompe defeat World Championship debutant Michael Smith in straight sets, with the youngster from St Helens winning the opening leg of each set but unable to cause an upset.

Saturday sees the first round continue with two sessions at Alexandra Palace, including former Lakeside Champions Jelle Klaasen and Steve Beaton in the opening games of the afternoon and evening respectively when they face colourful Peter Wright and Sweden^s Magnus Caris.

2011 World Championship quarter-finalist Vincent van der Voort takes on left-hander Mark Hylton, while Paul Nicholson meets Austria^s Mensur Suljovic.


Ladbrokes World Darts Championship
Preliminary (P) and First Round
Friday December 16
Justin Pipe 3-1 Sean Reed
Haruki Muramatsu 4-2 Dennis Nilsson (P)
Stompe 3-0 Michael Smith
Wes Newton 3-0 Kurt Van De
Phil Taylor v
Haruki Muramatsu


Saturday December 17
Afternoon Session (12pm)

Peter Wright v
Jelle Klaasen
Dietmar Burger v Christian Perez (P)
Ronnie Baxter v Steve Farmer
Robert Thornton v Ian White
Tabern v Burger/Perez


Evening Session (7pm)
Steve Beaton v Magnus
Kevin Munch v Lee
Choon Peng (P)
Vincent van der
Voort v Mark Hylton
Paul Nicholson v
Mensur Suljovic
Denis Ovens v Munch/
Choon Peng


(0-3, 3-1, 3-2, 3-0)
JUSTIN PIPE secured a hard-fought first round victory over Australian qualifier Sean Reed by coming from a set down to secure a place in the second round of the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship.

The game was finely poised at one set all with Reed 2-1 up in the third set before the man from Taunton put together a run of five winning legs to win the match.

The Australian made a superb start to the match by taking the set first without reply from his opponent, as Reed hit finishes of 86, 112 and 83 to take an early advantage on his televised debut.

Pipe made a good start to the second set by holding throw with the aid of a maximum before Reed drew level by hitting double 16.

Pipe hit a 174 to leave 16 in the third leg, which he duly took out to edge ahead, and in the fourth he hit a second 180, followed by a successful attempt at double six, to square the match.

Reed reproduced the form of the first set at the beginning of the third with an excellent 121 checkout before Pipe took the next by landing double 16 at the first time of asking.

A tense third leg saw Pipe miss two chances to break throw and Reed hit double ten with his third dart to claim a 2-1 lead.

Pipe won the fourth with an accurate attempt at double 18 and then hit a brace of 140s at the start of the deciding leg, which was won on double eight to take the set and lead the match for the first time.

The fourth set started with Pipe hitting double eight to hold throw, and he broke in the second by converting a 62 finish on double 16 to win a fourth successive leg before he hit the same bed in the next to seal victory.

"It^s job done and I ground out the win," said Pipe. "That^s the nervy one out of the way because it means so much to better myself from the first round loss a year ago.

"I^m happy enough with my finishing but I need to up my average in the second round."


HARUKI MURAMATSU defeated Sweden^s Dennis Nilsson with an excellent 4-2 triumph in the preliminary round of the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship.

The 34-year-old^s reward is a first round clash against 15-time World Champion Phil Taylor later on Friday evening as he reached the last 64 for the second time in three years.

Nilsson missed double top for a 120 finish at the start of the match and Muramastu stepped in to take out 80 and claim the first leg against the darts.

The Japanese qualifier, making his second appearance in the World Championship, hit a 90 finish to win the second leg before Nilsson got on the board by landing double five to take the third.

Nilsson, who won Sweden^s Strongest Man competition in 2004, levelled the game by hitting double ten to win the fourth leg, but the fifth saw Muramatsu claim a vital break of throw and he closed out the game in style with an excellent 102 checkout.


(3-1, 3-1, 3-1)
CO STOMPE enjoyed a relatively comfortable path towards the last 32 of the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship with a straight sets victory over debutant Michael Smith.

Stompe suffered a first round exit at the hands of Peter Wright 12 months ago, but the same fate did not hit the Dutchman this time around.

Stompe hit a 180 in the opening leg but St Helens youngster Smith, making his World Championship debut, held throw to win the opening leg by landing double ten.

Smith missed two chances to break throw in the second, and Stompe accepted the reprieve by hitting double 16 at the first attempt.

The Dutchman, a quarter-finalist in this event in 2009, won the third leg against the darts with the aid of a 180 and then hit double five in the next to win the first set.

Stompe began the second set with his third maximum of the match, but missed three darts at doubles to take the leg and Smith again made his opponent pay by hitting double eight.

Stompe recovered from those errors by breaking back immediately with a 13-dart finish and then hit double top at the first time of asking to take the third leg.

The fourth leg saw the 21-year-old miss five darts at doubles to level, and Stompe hit double top to register a two-set lead and leave his opponent with a mountain to climb.

Smith started the third set well - as he had the previous two - by holding throw to win the first leg and then recorded a maximum in the next.

But Stompe went on to take it by hitting double top to level and then hit a clinical 79 finish to take the third and move within touching distance of victory.

The fourth leg saw Stompe miss double 19 for a 158 checkout, but Smith could not capitalise and he returned to the oche to hit double 16 and seal a place in round two.


(3-1, 3-2, 3-2)
WES NEWTON moved into the last 32 of the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship with a 3-0 victory over Belgium^s Kurt Van De

Newton, who reached the final of the UK Open back in June, will now face Justin Pipe for a place in the last 16 of the tournament next Thursday evening.

Newton, who enjoyed an excellent run to the quarter-finals in last year^s competition, started the match well by breaking throw to win the first leg, before taking the second to double his lead.

Van De Rijck won the third leg by hitting double eight before Newton won the set in the next leg with a clinical 108 checkout to take the lead in style.

The Fleetwood ace made a winning start to set two by landing double four to win the first leg before the Belgian held throw to take the second with the aid of the first 180 of the match.

Van De Rijck missed the bullseye for a 121 finish in the third leg and Newton hit double 16 with his third dart to lead 2-1.

The Belgian, who qualified for this tournament through his performances in just six Players Championship events across Europe, hit a superb 136 checkout to take the fourth and force a deciding leg.

Newton had advantage of throw and he made that count by getting to a finish first, and he hit double ten to establish a two set cushion.

Van De Rijck held throw at the start of set three with the aid of his third maximum of the game before Newton hit a 180 of his own in the process of claiming the second leg.

Newton won the third against the darts by landing double ten but was guilty of missing two darts for the match in the next and the Belgian hit an excellent 71 finish under pressure to keep the match alive.

However, the world number seven closed out the game in the deciding leg by hitting double eight with his last dart to progress to the last 32.

"I battled through and got the win, and that^s all that matters," said Newton. "Every player^s trying their hardest and it^s the biggest tournament for every player, and I^m no different.

"I still think there^s a lot to come from me and I^ve not played my best game on TV yet, but I^ll keep going and hopefully that will come out.

"You learn something from every game and as long as I keep learning it will make me a better player."


(3-1, 3-1, 3-1)
PHIL TAYLOR began his campaign for a 16th World Championship with a straight sets triumph over plucky Japanese qualifier
Haruki Muramatsu at Alexandra Palace on Friday night.

The top seed will return to Alexandra Palace on 27 December where he will face either Mark Dudbridge or Dave Chisnall in the second round of the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship.

Taylor, who has won four televised titles in the second half of 2011, broke throw at the start of the match by landing double 16 but would not be given an easy ride for the Japanese number one, who saw off Dennis Nilsson in the preliminary round.

Muramatsu immediately broke back with a 14-dart finish and had a chance to take the third leg, but his attempt at double top was off-target.

Taylor made him pay for that mistake by taking out 56 in two darts and then hit a 98 finish to claim the first set.

The second set began with Taylor missing three darts at doubles and Muramatsu hit double top at the first attempt to break throw for the second time in the match.

Taylor broke back immediately with a 13-darter and then won the third leg with a 14-dart finish to claim a 2-1 lead.

The world number one, who defeated Gary Anderson in the final of last month^s Grand Slam of Darts, hit double 18 in the next leg at the first time of asking to confirm a two-set lead.

Muramatsu began the third set positively by hitting double top win the first leg - leading for the second successive set - before Taylor won the second by landing double 16 with his third dart.

Both players hit three 140s apiece in the third leg and Muramatsu had the first chance to win the leg, but his attempt at bullseye was off-target and Taylor took out 81 for an 11-dart finish.

That put Taylor one leg away from victory, and although he missed two match darts in the next, Muramatsu could not capitalise with a dart at at double top and the Stoke ace stepped in to hit double five and seal his last 32 spot.

"It was hard work out there as Haruki is a very steady player and I had to keep my concentration throughout," admitted Taylor.

"I can relax a bit now and enjoy a good Christmas. I^ll be practising hard ahead of my next against Mark Dudbridge or Dave Chisnall as they are both excellent players on their day."

Images Courtesy orf Lawrence Lustig/PDC



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