As befits a darts player nicknamed "The Artist", Kevin Painter can be relied upon to entertain. The world No 7, beaten by Phil Taylor two years ago in one of the greatest finals in world championship history, was at it again at the Circus Tavern in Purfleet last night, winning a thriller against Wes Newton to reach the third round.
Painter won 4-3 after a match in which he did not lead until the 28th leg. Newton, whose brother Dale had lost to Painter in the previous round, wasted a succession of opportunities to reach the last 16 for the first time, but his opponent's experience proved crucial in a match full of drama.
Newton declared his intentions with a 140 check-out in the first leg of the first set, which he won 3-1. The world No 26 did not trail until the final set, though he was never more than one set clear and spurned chances to win both the second and fourth sets.
Painter did not win a leg in the fifth set as Newton took a 3-2 lead, but responded with a 12-dart finish at the start of the sixth, which he won 3-1 to set up a dramatic finale.
Newton took a 1-0 lead, Painter won the next two legs to lead in the match for the first time and missed a dart for double 12 as Newton levelled at 2-2. Newton had opportunities to win the next two legs, but Painter held his nerve to win the set 4-2.
Adrian Lewis, Phil Taylor's 20-year-old protégé and long-time practice partner, won a see-saw contest against Dennis Priestley, the 55-year-old former world champion, to reach the last 16.
Priestley, one of only three players ever to have beaten Taylor in a world championship and the only one to have done so twice, lost the first two sets but then slowed the match down to break his opponent's rhythm and bring the score back to 2-2. Lewis showed his frustration when he scored just nine on one visit to the oche but recovered his composure to win the next two sets and the match.
"Adrian could be the next Phil Taylor," Priestley said. "He was awesome in the first set. I don't think Phil Taylor would have lived with him in that form. Having said that, I don't think I pushed him as well as I should have done. I expected to win. He looked like he was wavering, but he came back well."
Lewis now faces the fourth seed, Roland Scholten, who was always in command against the German No 1, Tomas Seyler, and won 4-2. Scholten began with a 180 in a 12-dart leg, though the Dutchman was not happy with his performance. "I eased up here and there and I should have kept pounding the treble 20 and been more focused," Scholten said.
Denis Ovens, the ninth seed, paid the price for failing to hit his doubles and lost 4-1 to Steve Alker. Ovens, who hit six maximum scores of 180, won only one of the first seven legs, while Alker took his chances with aplomb. "Denis didn't play anywhere near as well as he can today," Alker said. "He let me in and I finished well."
Mark Walsh, the No 12 seed, also went out, losing 4-0 to Dennis Smith, the world No 21. The runner-up in this year's UK Open, Walsh is one of the most improved players in the game, but struggled to find his form. Smith, who hit double top with great consistency, now meets Peter Manley, twice a beaten finalist here.Reuse content