Beau Greaves denied by William O’Connor on her PDC world darts debut | PDC World Championships

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Beau Greaves’ highly-anticipated debut at the PDC world championship ended in a hard-fought defeat to William O’Connor at London’s Alexandra Palace.

The 18-year-old Greaves, currently ranked second on the women’s order of merit, is one of the sport’s rising stars but was the underdog against her Irish opponent, ranked 36th in the world and making his sixth consecutive Ally Pally appearance. Greaves started in breathtaking fashion, however, taking the first leg with a 120 checkout.

In a high-quality opening set, Doncaster’s Greaves lost throw in the third leg, broke straight back but then narrowly missed double 16 to complete a 105 checkout. O’Connor took advantage, landing double five to take the first set, but Greaves again landed a big checkout to open the second, taking out 122 against the throw.

This time, Greaves backed up the break by holding throw to go 2-0 but O’Connor proved unshakeable, rallying to reel off three straight legs as Greaves passed up a key shot at bull in the fourth leg. That shift in momentum proved decisive as O’Connor eased through the third set to win 3-0, averaging 94.26 to Greaves’ 88.34.

Michael Smith began his campaign in style, winning nine consecutive legs in his 3-0 victory over Northern Ireland’s Nathan Rafferty. Smith, beaten by Peter Wright in last year’s final, is among the title favourites again this year and was too good for his young opponent, averaging 96.62 to ease into the third round.

In Friday night’s other matches, Lourence Ilagan won a final-leg shootout to beat Austria’s Rowby-John Rodriguez 3-2 – the Filipino player’s first worlds victory at the seventh time of asking. Germany’s Florian Hempel also came through a last-leg decider against Keegan Brown, a defeat that leaves his opponent without a tour card for next season.

In Friday’s afternoon session, the two-times former PDC world champion Adrian Lewis overcame Sweden’s Daniel Larsson 3-0 in his first-round match. “The first round is always tough,” Lewis, who will face Damon Heta next, told afterwards. “I feel comfortable up here. There is something magical about this place. I love it and I am up for the fight, trust me.”

Scotland’s Alan Soutar, who reached the fourth round last year, eased past Australia’s Mal Cuming in straight sets, and Croatia’s Boris Krcmar saw off Japan’s Toru Suzuki by the same score to set up a second-round meeting with Nathan Aspinall.

In the second round, Kim Huybrechts dropped just one leg in his 3-0 win over Grant Sampson. The No 31 seed will next face the defending champion, Peter Wright, after comfortably beating the South African qualifier who had shocked Keane Barry in the first round on Thursday.

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