Van Gerwen survives scare to begin title defence with win against Klaasen

Michael Van Gerwen survived a scare as he began the defence of his PDC World Championship title with a battling victory over fellow Dutchman Jelle Klaasen at Alexandra Palace.

Having won seven televised tournaments this year, the three-time world champion is the overwhelming favourite to lift the Sid Waddell Trophy again.

Van Gerwen insisted in the build-up to the tournament that he felt no added pressure to win the title back-to-back for the first time.

The world number one looked to be struggling with nerves early on, falling one set behind, but roared into life with a 170 finish en route to a 3-1 win.

Klaasen had set up the second-round showdown with a confidence-boosting 3-1 victory over Kevin Burness in the opening match of the evening.

And despite falling two legs behind to Van Gerwen in the opener, he responded in fine fashion to take three in a row, securing the set with a 116 checkout.

Michael Van Gerwen did not have it all his own way on the opening night
Michael Van Gerwen did not have it all his own way on the opening night (Tess Derry/PA)

Van Gerwen levelled up in style by reeling in the big fish and took control of the third set with a 130 checkout on the bullseye.

He cruised home by winning the fourth set 3-1, sealing a spot in the third round by taking out 88 on the bull.

Luke Humphries continued where he left off last year by beating dancing Devon Petersen 3-1 to set up a second-round clash with Jermaine Wattimena.

🕺DANCING DEVON 🕺

Oh how much have we missed that walk-on on this stage?! Devon Petersen gets this crowd dancing as he faces tough opposition in Luke Humphries! pic.twitter.com/m3LiYMlq3O

— PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC) December 13, 2019

The newly-crowned world youth champion ended Rob Cross’ title defence en route to the quarter-finals in 2018.

And this time around Humphries started his campaign in impressive fashion, taking out four ton-plus checkouts to upset the South African, who failed to live up to his lively walk-on.

Kim Huybrechts will play Cross next after a hard-fought victory over Geert Nentjes.

The Belgian had to dig deep, responding from falling 2-1 behind to win 3-2 with an average of 89.94.

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