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Raymond van Barneveld 5-3 Mensur Suljovic
RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD
Raymond van Barneveld came back from 6-3 down to snatch a draw against Daryl Gurney last week in Dublin in his opening match of the 2018 Premier League. Gurney did let Barney off the hook by missing three darts at doubles which would have sealed a 7-4 win.
Van Barneveld certainly wasn’t without chances to win legs against Gurney; he had attempts at a double in nine of the 12 legs played, but some missed doubles particularly on his own throw gave Gurney the initiative in the middle part of the match and it required a late rally to salvage a point.
The UK Open qualifiers last weekend weren’t productive for Van Barneveld – he lost to the Polish player Krzysztof Ratajski in his opening match in both of the events he played in.
Of all the players who were beaten in week one of the 2018 Premier League, it is Mensur Suljovic who must feel the most hard done by. He lost 7-5 to Simon Whitlock in the highest quality encounter of the evening. Out of the ten players involved, the 103.71 average of Suljovic was only bettered by the 106.49 average of Whitlock.
A highlight of his performance against Whitlock was his finishing, and in particular his three ton plus checkouts. He won the first leg on a 121 checkout and added to this with finishes of 138 and 110, contributing to an impressive overall checkout percentage for the match of 55.6%.
Suljovic wasn’t in action at the weekend as he has opted not to enter any of the UK Open qualifiers this year which will cut down on the travelling he makes during these early weeks of the 2018 Premier League.
Neither of these players managed to get a win on the opening night so will be very keen to register their first victory of the campaign in this match. Raymond van Barneveld has a small lead in their head-to-head record which includes a win only a couple of weeks ago in the semi-finals at the PDC Masters.
Suljovic has tasted success against Barney on the big stage before though, and indeed has a win against him on this very Cardiff stage on his way to winning the 2017 Champions League of Darts. Mensur certainly has very fond memories of this venue as a result of winning that tournament; he played to a very high level last week and the extra resting time without travelling could give him an extra edge in getting over the line in a tightly fought game.
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