Michael van Gerwen among casualties as top PDC stars crash out early in Dutch Masters

It was a bad night for the big names at the Dutch Darts Masters, with Michael van Gerwen among those to suffer shock defeats.

Michael van Gerwen made an unhappy return to darts after surgery as Danny Noppert dumped him out of the Dutch Masters on what was a bad day for the top PDC stars.

Van Gerwen was one of six players from the Netherlands to take to the stage on the opening night, but it was Englishman Noppert who grabbed the headlines.

The former world champion missed the World Cup of Darts last week to undergo wrist surgery, but there was little wrong with his darts on the night.

In fact, he averaged more than 110 after five legs. His only problem was that Noppert was doing the same as well as finshing his doubles better.

"It was a crazy game," Noppert said afther the 6-4 victory. "The trebles and finishes were going in early on.

"I have so much respect for Michael. He is only just returning from injury, but he played really well.

"I just tried to focus on my own game. Everything is possible if you believe in yourself, and I believe in myself. This was a great start."

Earlier in the night, Vincent Van der Voort raised the roof by edging out world number two Gerwyn Price in a dramatic 11-leg tussle.

Van der Voort rallied from 2-0 adrift with a trio of 13-darters, and though back-to-back legs from Price appeared to shift the pendulum back in his favour, the home favourite restored parity with a brilliant 102 checkout in leg eight.

Having wrestled back the throw, the former UK Open finalist then posted his fourth 13-darter of the contest to complete the job in the decider.

"I didn't play particularly well, but that crowd is just amazing," said Van der Voort, who averaged 96 to account for the 2021 World Champion.

"Any win against Gerwyn Price is special. He is the world number two, he's one of the best players in the world. I'm very happy."

World Champion Peter Wright was another big-name casualty in Amsterdam, as the Scot succumbed to Dirk van Duijvenbode in an entertaining affair.

The pair traded 11 maximums in just nine legs, but it was the former World Grand Prix runner-up who ran out a convincing 6-3 winner.

Van Duijvenbode posted seven perfect darts in leg four, before rattling in a delightful 11-darter to close in on victory, eventually wrapping up proceedings with a 96 average and six 180s.

"There were lots of friends and family supporting me, and if you beat the biggest names, you want to do it in front of the people you love," said Van Duijvenbode, a semi-finalist at last week's World Cup of Darts.

"I don't look at my own opponent, I look at my own performance. Peter didn't play his best game, but I know I can improve."

Van Duijvenbode now faces Martijn Kleermaker, who continued the remarkable run for the Dutch qualifiers by firing in six maximums to set up a 6-4 win over top seed Michael Smith.

US Darts Masters winner Smith was punished for profligacy in the early exchanges, but successive 96 and 80 outshots saw the World Championship runner-up regain the lead.

Kleermaker came roaring back with a majestic ten-darter to level in leg six, before following up a sensational 124 finish on the bull in leg nine with a 78 combination on tops to sink the St Helens star.

"Michael Smith is the best player in the world right now, so to beat him in front of my home crowd is awesome," reflected Kleermaker, who averaged 96 and missed just two darts at a double.

"This was an amazing game. That 78 finish is probably one of the best 78 checkouts I've hit in my life!"

Elsewhere, Jermaine Wattimena produced a superb display of finishing to stun World Series of Darts Finals champion Jonny Clayton in a deciding leg.

Finishes of 116, 95 and 122 saw Wattimena recover from a sluggish start to force a final leg, and the Dutchman held his nerve to prevail via double six, sparkling jubilant scenes of celebration.

"I haven't played well in the last few months, so this is incredible," Wattimena admitted.

"There was more pressure on me tonight, but the crowd really helped me. I think I played well. I have no words for this. It feels really special."

Nordic Darts Masters winner Dimitri Van den Bergh began his bid for back-to-back World Series titles with a resounding 6-2 success against Ron Meulenkamp.

The Belgian fired in a classy 118 checkout in leg two, and reeled off the final three legs in 13, 14 and 16 darts to set up a meeting with Wattimena for a place in the semi-finals.

Meanwhile, fourth seed James Wade was the other PDC representative to advance, easing through to the last eight with a 6-2 victory over former World Matchplay semi-finalist Jeffrey de Zwaan.

Ten-time TV title winner Wade capitalised on De Zwaan's outer ring woes in merciless fashion, drawing first blood with a sublime 125 checkout and winning five of the last six legs to triumph.

The world number five will now play Maik Kuivenhoven in Saturday night's quarter-finals, after the Dutchman breezed past an out-of-sorts Fallon Sherrock 6-1 in his opener.

Saturday's second day of action will see the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final played in one blockbuster evening session, as the remaining eight players battle it out for the £20,000 top prize.

Friday June 24 - First Round

Jermaine Wattimena 6-5 Jonny Clayton

Maik Kuivenhoven 6-1 Fallon Sherrock

James Wade 6-2 Jeffrey de Zwaan

Vincent van der Voort 6-5 Gerwyn Price

Martijn Kleermaker 6-4 Michael Smith

Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-2 Ron Meulenkamp

Danny Noppert 6-4 Michael van Gerwen

Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-3 Peter Wright

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