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James Hubbard kept his World Matchplay dream alive with a hard fought victory over World Championship finalist Andy Hamilton in Dusseldorf, while Simon Whitlock, James Wade, Raymond van Barneveld, Robert Thornton, Mervyn King, Michael van Gerwen and Vincent van der Voort all enjoyed first round victories in the European Darts Open.

Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Hubbard, who is perched just outside the 16 available qualifying places from the Pro-Tour order of merit, clinched victory over Premier League star Hamilton by holding his nerve to take a last leg decider.

The 19-year-old PDC Unicorn World Youth Champion will now face Steve Brown in round two, as he bids to move a step closer claiming to a place in Blackpool later this month.

Thornton, King and van der Voort all sealed spots in the World Matchplay with respective first round victories over Maik Langendorf, Stuart Kellet and Jamie Lewis.

Whitlock was forced to produce a stunning comeback, when he trailed Ross Smith 4-1 and 5-2 before winning four consecutive legs to reach round two.

Wade, who was runner up in the first European Tour Event in Austria, began the third with a 6-3 triumph over Magnus Caris, while van Barneveld swept past Ian White 6-2, with a hundred-plus average to boot.

Fellow Dutchman van Gerwen defeated Wayne Jones 6-3 to set up a second round tie with Brian Woods on Saturday afternoon, with King up against Ronnie Baxter in the same session.

Saturday evening sees van der Voort and Thornton go head to head before Wade takes on Jelle Klaasen.

Whitlock faces Ronny Huybrechts, with van Barneveld pitted against Brendan Dolan.

There was disappointment for Co Stompe, Arron Monk and Paul Nicholson, however. They all suffered first round defeats, as did Andy Jenkins, who was on the receiving end of a brilliant performance from Richie Burnett, with the Welshman posting an incredible 121.67 average.

By Chris Murphy

See four of the world’s top professional darts players go head to head in the Charlton Masters on Thursday 19 July.

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