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UK Open: Mensur Suljovic stuns Michael van Gerwen on dramatic opening day in Minehead

Mensur Suljovic caused a huge upset with victory over Michael van Gerwen on the opening night of the 2024 Ladbrokes UK Open, as three former champions crashed out on a dramatic evening in Minehead.

Day One of the £600,000 event at Butlin’s Minehead Resort saw 126 matches played across eight stages on an action-packed day at the annual festival of darts.

The opening four rounds were held across two sessions, as the 158-player field was whittled down to 32 by the conclusion of Friday's action.

The biggest story of the day saw world number 56 Suljovic roll back the years to stun Van Gerwen, winning eight of the last ten legs to inflict a 10-7 defeat on the Dutch superstar, who appeared to be struggling with a shoulder injury.

“Michael van Gerwen is the best player in the world at the moment,” insisted the Austrian veteran.

“This is a brilliant feeling for me. I had some family problems last year, but this year I am practising every day, and I hope I can have a good tournament.”

Gerwyn Price – a runner-up in 2017 and 2020 - was another high-profile casualty on Friday evening, squandering six match darts in a dramatic decider against Martin Schindler.

Teenage sensation Luke Littler avoided the same fate however, averaging 101 and producing finishes of 101, 109, 120 and 170 to secure a 10-7 win against three-time champion James Wade.

“I’m just glad to get over the line in the end,” reflected Littler, who was a Rileys Amateur Qualifier at this event 12 months ago.

“This tournament is where it all began for myself. I’m loving this experience. It’s what I’ve always dreamed of, and I’m just taking it in my stride.”

World Champion Luke Humphries opened his bid for a fourth consecutive TV ranking title with an eye-catching win over Dirk van Duijvenbode, defying ten maximums from the Dutch star to prevail with a 101 average.

Reigning champion Andrew Gilding also enjoyed his Minehead return, kicking off his defence of the title with a battling 10-7 victory against Josh Payne, crashing in six 180s in the process.

Gilding was one of five UK Open winners to progress to round five, with Nathan Aspinall, Danny Noppert, Peter Wright and Gary Anderson all celebrating victory in round four.

Aspinall sank former Lakeside champion Scott Mitchell in his opener, while Noppert won six of the last seven legs to complete a comeback win over German number one Gabriel Clemens.

Wright brushed aside Joshua Richardson 10-3 to open his title challenge, before 2018 champion Anderson reeled off six straight legs to win through an all-Scottish showdown against Cameron Menzies.

Premier League duo Michael Smith and Rob Cross also tasted victory on Friday evening, with Masters champion Stephen Bunting joining the pair in the winner’s circle.

Ross Smith recorded a 10-8 victory against Daryl Gurney in a high-quality encounter, before Damon Heta defeated his World Cup partner Simon Whitlock by the same scoreline.

Former Masters winner Chris Dobey averaged 99 in his 10-3 demolition of Mickey Mansell, while last year’s semi-finalist Dimitri Van den Bergh denied Brendan Dolan in a marathon contest.

Jonny Clayton survived a major scare to outlast German debutant Tim Wolters in his fourth round tie, as Poland’s Krzysztof Ratajski and Northern Ireland’s Josh Rock breezed through in routine fashion.

Earlier in the night, two-time winner Raymond van Barneveld and Ryan Searle suffered deciding-leg heartbreak, losing out to Luke Woodhouse and Graham Usher in their respective fourth round ties.

Denmark’s World Cup star Benjamin Reus is the only player who entered in round one left standing ahead of Saturday’s play, while former semi-finalists Dave Chisnall, Mervyn King and Keane Barry also progressed.

World Youth Championship runner-up Gian van Veen booked his place in the last 32 with a brace of wins across the day, to move through alongside his compatriots Vincent van der Voort and Kevin Doets.

Mike De Decker, Ricky Evans, Martin Lukeman and Ryan Meikle also registered back-to-back wins on Friday, as the quartet continued their bids for a maiden televised title in Minehead.

The draw for the fifth round was made live on the Main Stage at the conclusion of Friday night's action, with reigning champion Gilding pitted against 2017 winner Wright for a place in the last 16.

World Champion Humphries will play Reus in an intriguing clash, while Schindler’s reward for beating Price is a fifth round showdown against Littler.

Anderson and Dobey will go head-to-head in a blockbuster tie, as Van Gerwen's conqueror Suljovic locks horns with Chisnall.

At the conclusion of the fifth round, the draw will be made for the sixth round, which will take place across two stages on Saturday evening.

Main Stage matches across the event will be broadcast live on ITV3 or ITV4 for UK viewers, through the PDC's international broadcast partners, including DAZN and Viaplay, and on PDCTV for Rest of the World Subscribers.

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