22 July, 2011

SIMON WHITLOCK romped into the quarter-finals of the Sky Bet Mobile World Matchplay, dropping only one leg in a superb victory over Denis Ovens on Thursday.

The Australian picked up the most comprehensive win of the second round with a clinical display, hitting over 50 percent of his attempts at a double and winning 12 successive legs in sweeping to victory.

The win keeps Whitlock on course for a second successive semi-final in Blackpool in as many years of competing in the World Matchplay, as he moves on to play in the last eight on Friday against Andy Hamilton.

He made an ideal start to the match with a 180 in his first visit to the board, and although Ovens replied with a maximum of his own it was the Australian who drew first blood with double ten for a 14-darter.

Whitlock also hit a 180 in the second leg, but Ovens levelled with a classy 132 checkout of outer bull, treble 19 and a tricky bullseye, which he hit after having to move left along the oche.

That, though, would be the brightest moment of the game for Ovens, who could offer little as Whitlock took the next three legs in assuming control of the contest.

The first came with a 13-darter, before double four broke Ovens^ throw and a 63 finish moved him 4-1 up at the first break.

Whitlock also hit a 180 in the sixth leg, and although he missed two darts at double top, Ovens would miss three darts at double 16 to hit back to allow him back in to break again.

Whitlock then followed a 64 checkout with a sensational 154 finish, before landing double ten in successive legs to move into a 9-1 lead.

After 62 checkout gave Whitlock a tenth leg, he then traded 180s with Ovens in a 12-darter to extend his lead further before punishing two misses from the UK Open semi-finalist by hitting double eight to move 12-1 up, before sealing the win in the next on tops.

"It felt really good," said Whitlock, who dedicated the win to his son Nicholas, who celebrated his birthday in Australia on Thursday by watching live coverage of the tournament.

"I started off fantastically by kicking off with a 180, and managed to keep up a good performance, although Denis didn^t play too well and never got into the match.

"I^ve been working hard for the last six-to-eight weeks and my game is back very close to its best.

"I always work on my doubles, it^s all I do in practice, but I^ve also changed the shafts on my darts since the end of the Premier League because they didn^t feel quite right, and they^re going great.

"I^m just plodding along, doing the business and I^m happy to be progressing quietly, which suits me. Last year I was a bit ill and I didn^t appreciate the event but I^m really enjoying it, the atmosphere is fantastic and the crowd have been great."

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