Michael Van Gerwen into World Matchplay quarter-finals with defeat of Ian White

Michael Van Gerwen will face Nathan Aspinall in the World Matchplay quarter-finals after a hard-fought 11-8 win against Ian White.

Former world number one Van Gerwen stayed on course for his first tournament win of the year, but was pushed hard by White in their second-round clash at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens.

Van Gerwen threw for the match at 10-6, but missed double 10 and White, who defeated the Dutchman at the European Championship last autumn, then served up a 108-checkout to close the gap.

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A 92-checkout put Van Gerwen 9-6 up after the pair had been locked at 5-5 and the third seed sealed victory with a 121-finish on the bull – but only after White had narrowly missed bull himself for a 161- checkout to snatch the leg.

Van Gerwen said in his post-match interview: “I made it incredibly difficult for myself. I missed six match darts before (hitting the final bull).

“I know there’s a lot more work to do, more to fight for and I know what I’m capable of. I always keep fighting and never give up.”

When asked about last-eight opponent Aspinall, three-time tournament winner Van Gerwen added: “Tough game for him! It’s going to be tough, but he fears me more than I fear him.”

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Aspinall threw eight maximums as he edged out 2018 champion Gary Anderson 11-9 in a thrilling encounter.

Anderson battled back from 8-5 down and hit a brilliant 149-checkout to close the gap further at 8-9.

But Aspinall responded with a 117-finish to go 10-8 ahead and clinched a quarter-final place for the first time with a 96-checkout to avoid a tie-break.

Aspinall said in his post-match press conference: “I’m not here to make the numbers up, I’m here to win and if I can play like I did in the last nine or 10 legs then I’ll be hard to beat.”

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Michael Smith came out on top in the first tie-break of the tournament, beating Portugal’s Jose de Sousa 13-11.

De Sousa led 10-8, but a match-winning chance eluded him and Smith hit a 72-finish to force extra time and while trailing 11-10 produced a 108-checkout before closing out the match.

In the evening’s final match, Peter Wright, world champion in 2020, turned in an impressive display to comfortably beat Joe Cullen 11-5, averaging 105.46 to cruise into the last eight.