Ipswich’s Mervyn King goes out of PDC World Championships

Max Hopp defeated Mervyn King

Max Hopp defeated Mervyn King - Credit: Archant

German teenager Max Hopp produced a sparkling performance to defeat Ipswich’s Mervyn King in a five-set thriller at the William Hill World Darts Championship, as big guns Adrian Lewis, Vincent van der Voort and Stephen Bunting progressed into round two at Alexandra Palace.

The final night of pre-Christmas action in darts’ biggest tournament concluded the preliminary and first rounds, as emerging star Hopp shot into the limelight.

November’s Masters finalist King was visibly struggling with a bad back – having suffered a slipped disc earlier this week – but he battled manfully throughout and actually missed one match dart, but even at his best he’d have been pushed all the way by Hopp’s 96.6 average and ten 180s, the best of the tournament so far.

Finishes of 120, 108 and 106 all showed King’s determination to win against Hopp’s heavy scoring, but the German 18-year-old produced the two big finishes of the match, taking out 103 to send the fifth set into a tie-breaker and then a brilliant 161 on the bull to seal victory.

Appearing at Alexandra Palace for the third straight year, Hopp showed great maturity and he won through to a second round clash with van der Voort.

After Hopp took the opening leg with a composed 13-darter, a hobbling King had enough to hit a 180 and nail 96 for an 11-darter before later hitting a “Shanghai” 120 finish in the deciding leg to take the opening set.

Hopp hit back by taking a high-quality second set 3-2, with a pair of 14-darters putting him ahead before King fired in a 13-darter as he levelled, only for the German to land a 180 in the decider as he levelled the game.

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King showed his grit by opening the third set with a 13-darter before hitting a 108 finish to take the set 3-1, and he added a 106 finish in the fourth only to see Hopp follow up two earlier 180s by prevailing in a decider as the Norfolk ace missed a match dart at double 16.

Double top and double eight helped King to move 2-1 up in the fifth set, and both men hit 180s as King looked to claim the match, but a 103 checkout from Hopp sent the game into a tie-break.

The next three legs all went against the throw as Hopp edged into a 4-3 cushion before he finished in style with 161 checkout for a 12-dart leg.

“I think I played well,” said Hopp. “I didn’t expect to win the match because he’s a brilliant player but I just had a little feeling that I could do well.

“When I had that 161 I just had a feeling it was going to go in, so I just thought just go for it and when it did it was just amazing, I don’t really have words for it.

“I’ll just take every game as it comes; to me every game is a final and I’ll be fighting as hard as I can to beat Vincent, we’ll just have to wait and see how it goes, but why not!?

“I can’t wait to go and enjoy this win now with my family, then we’ll fly home to Germany and I can enjoy Christmas with them before coming back to the second round.”

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