Grand Slam of Darts: Glen Durrant starts with opening day victory

The Grand Slam represents the only tournament of the year where the two governing bodies go head-to-head and the two respective champions got their campaigns off to the perfect start.

Durrant, the back-to-back BDO champion, averaged just under 100 at Aldersley Leisure Village to sink Simon Whitlock with a hugely impressive 5-1 win on an afternoon where he was the only one of four BDO representatives to record an opening two points.

With Durrant victorious, the PDC’s titleholder was under pressure to match Durrant’s showing and Voltage did just that, seeing off McGeeney – the man Durrant beat at the Lakeside in January – who missed 20 darts at double through their contest.

Group F is expected to be one of the tighter battles but Durrant underlined his status as a contender for the title, starting fast to race into a 2-0 lead before Whitlock took out tops to get on the board.

A 13-darter gave Duzza a break of throw and he moved within a leg of the match thanks to double 16. With Whitlock unable to get into position for anything other than big finishes, Durrant swept to victory pinning double nine to complete the rout.

The Middlesbrough man, a quarter-finalist last year, is out to make amends for what he felt was a disappointing defeat to Peter Wright in the last eight and if he can continue his form he will be a dangerous opponent.

He will next face Gerwyn Price, who celebrated getting married 24 hours earlier with a comfortable 5-2 win over Andrew Gilding, whose 110 wasn’t enough to kickstart the qualifier’s hopes.

In Group H, Cross was grateful for an astonishing opening leg from McGeeney who had left 49 after nine darts, but incredibly proceeded to miss 11 darts at double for the leg and Cross took the first chance that came his way.

McGeeney eventually found a double at the 17th time of asking in the third leg but Cross moved 3-1 in front by pinning double top before Cross clicked into gear with a phenomenal 10-dart leg that set him on the way to a 5-2 win.

Cross will next face a repeat of his memorable World Championship quarter-final against Dimitri Van den Bergh who accounted for Ryan Searle to continue his love affair with the big stage.

Having secured a return to the World Youth final on Monday the Belgian was too strong for Searle who had taken the opener with a brilliant 140 finish.

Van den Bergh then produced a brilliant burst including a superb 120 check-out to surge into a 3-1 and eventually close out the contest.

The world no 2 Peter Wright is the top seed in Group E and he was taken all the way by the BDO’s Jim Williams before eventually sealing a win.

Snakebite, runner-up last year, hit the front despite being below his best, but was continually pegged back by a dogged Williams despite seeing Wright take out an impressive 130 and fire a couple of timely 180s.

Wright missed five darts for the match to give Williams a chance and having missed the first on the bullseye he took out double eight to force the deciding leg where Wright eventually prevailed.

He will next face Max Hopp who took out a brilliant 123 finish in the fourth leg of the tournament’s opening contest against Josh Payne.

Having taken a while to get going, and trailing 2-0 with eight missed darts to win legs, Hopp took out the brilliant three-dart combination to level the match before going on to win three of the next four legs for a 5-3 victory.

In Group G, a near flawless start from Mensur Suljovic saw the Austrian race into a 3-0 lead before Scott Mitchell, the 2015 BDO champion, put a slow start behind him with a brilliant 124 check-out.

But Suljovic responded with a timely 103 combination that restored his three-leg lead and took him to within a leg of the match.

Mitchell’s scoring was letting him down but he cleaned up 62 to stay at 100% on the doubles, although that was as good as it got as Suljovic pinned his favourite double 14 to claim the match.

He will next face Stephen Bunting took out a brilliant 170 on his way to an impressive 5-3 victory over Martin Schindler.

Despite 19 missed darts at double, there was little between the pair but Bunting had the edge, an average of 91 enough to give The Bullet a big win.

The second phase of group matches sees the winners from today’s session face off with the losers also meeting as they look to keep alive chances of a place in the knock-out stage.

The Grand Slam of Darts continues on Sky Sports across the week with coverage of Saturday’s evening session from 7pm on Sky Sports Action and another double session on Sunday.

Keep up to date with the news as the tungsten enters its busiest time of year with the PDC World Championships just around the corner get all the latest at www.skysports.com/darts and join in the conversation @SkySportsDarts.

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