CRISTO REYES created a piece of history as he became the first Spanish player to reach the last 16 of the William Hill World Darts Championship, coming from 3-1 down to defeat Kevin Painter 4-3 in a dramatic second-round clash, while Kim Huybrechts and Andy Hamilton also moved through to round three yesterday afternoon.
After coming through a field of 154 players in the Iberian Qualifier just to win a place at Alexandra Palace, Reyes defeated Christian Perez and 13th-seed Wes Newton on the opening night of the tournament before Christmas.
The Tenerife player looked a long way from causing another upset as Painter moved 3-1 up in sets, but Reyes showed his nerve by winning the next two sets 3-2, before dominating the deciding set with three successive legs to earn a shock win and a third-round clash with Gary Anderson.
Reyes sensed an upset as he took the first set. Despite Painter hitting two 180s in one leg, Reyes checked out on 66 and then held his nerve in the decider to win the set 3-2, but it all looked to be going wrong from there as the 2004 finalist won the next six legs on the spin.
Painter took the second set 3-1 and then took out 60 three times on the bounce to win the third 3-0, before Reyes eventually stopped the rot by winning the first leg of the fourth set.
Painter, though, answered with a 141 finish and went on to claim a third successive set as he opened up a 3-1 lead.
Reyes again showed he can hold his nerve on the big stage as he fought his way back, winning the deciding leg of the fifth set when Painter left himself on 163 and unable to finish.
Painter took out 65 and 54 to go ahead in the sixth, but Reyes hit back to level an enthralling game at three sets all. With the momentum going into the deciding set, Reyes hit two 180s in the first leg to break the throw of Painter, who also hit a maximum, before taking out 44 and then 72 in two darts to seal a famous victory.
“It’s incredible, I’m speechless,” said Reyes. “I will always fight right until the end, even though I was 3-1 down I was always going to fight until the last dart. Until the referee calls the final shot I always think I can win, and until the last dart goes in I will always keep going.
“We have flights booked for tonight so we’ll have to go and try to change them now and try and book the hotel for an extra few days.”
Huybrechts exacted revenge in kind on Ian White as he won a see-saw battle 4-3 in the second round, having lost by the same scoreline when the pair met at Alexandra Palace 12 months ago.
White won the first set before Huybrechts went 2-1 up, only to see the Stoke player take seven legs in a row to lead 3-2. The Belgian, though, regained his stride to win the next two sets as he moved through to a third-round clash with either Phil Taylor or Mark Webster. “It was not about revenge, it was all about this match,” said Huybrechts. “When I was losing 3-2 I knew I had to be a bit more aggressive. That’s part of my game, how I deal with the nerves.”
Hamilton also came from behind to claim victory, recovering from a 2-1 deficit to produce a powerful finish as he overcame Kyle Anderson 4-2.
Runner-up in 2012, Hamilton set up a third-round clash with last year’s beaten finalist Peter Wright with a trademark battling performance as he responded to going 2-1 behind by winning nine of the next 12 legs to storm through to another third round. “It was a tough game. I had to battle hard to win,” said Hamilton. “That’s how I win games. My games always seem to be hard work. I always fight hard and never give up.”
Taylor continues his bid for a 17th World Championship when he plays Mark Webster in the evening session, with two-time champion Adrian Lewis meeting World Youth Champion Keegan Brown and Darren Webster up against Dean Winstanley.