Wayne Mardle produced another amazing fightback to become the first man to reach the quarter-finals of the Ladbrokes.com World Championship at the Circus Tavern in Purfleet today.
The player nicknamed ‘Hawaii 501’ for his colourful dress sense battled back from 3-1 down to win 4-3 against Paul Williams following another enigmatic display in which he fluctuated between dynamic and dreadful.
Everything looked to be going swimmingly for the 31-year-old from Dagenham when he easily won the first set, which included a brilliant checkout of 167 - the highest of the tournament so far.
But then Mardle went completely off the boil, continually spraying darts into the five bed, as the steady Williams reeled off the next three sets.
It was then the Boltonian’s turn to lose his form, however, and Mardle returned to his brilliant best to hit back from the brink and clinch a New Year’s Day last-eight clash with either Colin Lloyd or Chris Mason.
Earlier, fans of the ‘Bronzed Adonis’ suffered a double shock as Steve Beaton appeared on stage without his trademark ‘mullet’ hairstyle – and then tumbled out of the tournament against Andy ‘The Hammer’ Hamilton.
The loss of his flowing locks had a Samson-like effect on the 14th seed as he slumped to a shock 4-2 defeat against the world number 105.
The 37-year-old from Stoke always held the upper hand and his win guaranteed there will be a qualifier in the quarter-finals for he plays Dutch youngster Josephus Schenk, conqueror of Peter Manley, next.
“I felt beautiful up there,” said Hamilton, who had previously ousted Mark Thomson and Mick Manning.
“But I missed a lot of doubles and it took a lot to finish it off. If I hadn’t hit the decisive double 10 who knows what might have happened.”
‘Rocket’ Ronnie Baxter raised his game when it mattered to reach the last 16 with a 4-2 victory over Circus Tavern debutant Terry Jenkins.
The sixth seed seemed on course for a comfortable success when he led 2-0 but then Jenkins, the improving world number 21 from Herefordshire, found his range in style and started to bang in the maximum scores of 180.
When the 31-year-old drew level at 2-2 and edged ahead in set five it looked ominous for Baxter, but the Gloucestershire-based Lancastrian moved up a gear and pulled away to book a clash with Bob Anderson.
“I’m glad Terry had not had one or two matches behind him this week,” admitted 43-year-old Baxter. “Thankfully he started missing some doubles.”