Nathan Aspinall dumped out of the World Grand Prix by Stephen Bunting

By Sports Desk October 02, 2023

World Matchplay champion Nathan Aspinall was dumped out of the World Grand Prix by Stephen Bunting on the opening day of the tournament in Leicester.

Bunting was able to checkout 42 to claim a 2-1 win in an error-strewn contest with Aspinall, who lost in the final to Michael van Gerwen at Morningside Arena in 2022.

Two-time semi-finalist Bunting clinched the opening set by a 3-1 score before Aspinall hit back with a superb 140 finish to level at 1-1 and force a decider in the first-round clash.

The deciding set went down to the wire but Bunting got a grip on his game to edge out his rival in the double in, double out event.

“I have been flying in the Pro Tour and for whatever reason I got up there and I was very nervous playing one of my good mates,” Bunting told Boyle Sports.

“I’m playing Martin Schindler in the next round so I’ll be ready for him.

“Every player in this tournament is dangerous and double off makes it a bit of a leveller. If I can hit my doubles – not like I did there but like I did in the practice room – then I should be good.”

Former winner Gerwyn Price had no trouble booking his place in round two after he beat Danny Noppert by a 2-0 score.

It was not all straightforward for the 2020 champion, with Noppert able to establish a 2-1 lead in the first set, but a timely maximum by Price was followed up with the Dutchman failing to take out 76.

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Price pounced to take out 101 before he checked out 40 in the decider to move one up in Leicester.

Set two was more routine for Price, who landed his double 20 throw to progress with an 88.23 average.

“I was terrible on doubles to start. I was all right on doubles to finish and I think the 180 and the 101 out won me the match,” Price reflected.

“My starting doubles, I need to stop thinking too much, but I think that is just first-round jitters. I will be a lot better in the second round.”

World champion Michael Smith dropped only one leg on his way to a comfortable 2-0 victory against Callan Rydz.

Raymond van Barneveld sent down three 180s but he suffered a 2-1 loss to Schindler on his return to the World Grand Prix stage for the first time since 2018.

James Wade was also a high-profile casualty after Krzysztof Ratajski fought back from 2-0 down in the final set to send the two-time World Grand Prix champion packing and set up a last-16 tie with Price.

Gary Anderson averaged 95.41 in his 2-1 success over Jose de Sousa with six maximums landed by the flying Scotsman.

Brendan Dolan was the first winner of the tournament after he claimed six of the last seven legs to down 2020 runner-up Dirk van Duijvenbode in a thriller.

Later in the night, Andrew Gilding secured a first World Grand Prix win in nine years with a 2-1 triumph over Rob Cross in a low-quality first-round match.

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