Raymond van Barneveld survives a difficult first round game at the Darts World Championship in London. The five-time world champion clears a giant duel in round three with the win, but first has to recover from an unfortunate visit to a restaurant.
After his hard-fought opening win at the Darts World Championship, Raymond van Barneveld is noticeably relieved when he is interviewed shortly after the game on Tuesday evening. Not only because he defeated the strong Ryan Meikle 3:1 after initially falling behind. But because it was unclear for a long time whether "Barney" would be able to play at all. "We went to a Chinese restaurant in Piccadilly Circus yesterday. It was one of the tastiest meals I've ever had. But my manager and I got food poisoning. I was in bed all day with stomach ache and couldn't exercise a second . A single nightmare," said van Barneveld after his victory in London's Alexandra Palace.
Only in the evening there is the good news that the five-time world champion can play his game. But the signs are bad for the 32nd in the world rankings. "Barney" meets the young Englishman Ryan Meikle. A rising player who had already endured a tough test against Lisa Ashton in the first round of the World Cup.
And in the match against the Dutch darts legend, Meikle - 26 years old, a trained hairdresser - is at his best. Although van Barneveld plays passable, Meikle is there in the crucial moments. With 3: 1 in the legs, the first set goes to the world number 48. "Ryan was incredibly good in the first set. I wondered when he would miss a triple field," said van Barneveld in an interview with "Sky Sports".
Although Meikle continues to hit many triple fields at first, van Barneveld also raises his level significantly in the second set. The Dutchman only needs 39 darts for the smooth 3-0 in the round. In the entire course of the tournament, no player had previously finished a set with fewer throws this year. Van Barneveld was unable to continue this run, but the former postman from The Hague still snatched the decisive third set 3:2. "It was extremely important to narrowly win the third set," said van Barneveld.
And indeed, that is the key to victory. Meikle clearly breaks down in the fourth set and hardly ever hits triple fields, while van Barneveld dictates the game. With 3:0 "Barney" gets his third set to win and progress. "Today, at first I thought that I would be happy if I could compete at all. I didn't expect that I would play so well. It was a fight against myself, it was about willpower," he said.
Raymond van Barneveld now has enough time to fully recover from the food poisoning before his next match. Only on December 27th will it continue for the second most successful darts player of all time after Phil Taylor. "I now have a week to relax," said van Barneveld on Tuesday evening. Then, of all people, world number one Gerwyn Price is waiting. "Barney" recently looked good twice against the 2021 world champion. At the Grand Slam of Darts in November, the Dutchman defeated the "Iceman" twice.
"Gerwyn knows what it takes to beat me. But I also know what I can do. And on a good night I can beat any opponent. It's about believing in victory," Barney looks up ahead of his giant duel with the Welshman. He's confident he can knock out No. 1 seed Price from the tournament. "December 27 is my grandchild's birthday. Nobody will defeat me on that day, it just won't happen," Barney is quoted as saying in the Dutch media.