Raymond van Barneveld’s PDC World Championship return ended with a 3-1 second-round loss to former champion Rob Cross.
Van Barneveld, a five-time world champion across the PDC and BDO versions, retired after a first-round loss at the tournament two years ago only to return late in 2020.
He could not have made a better start against 11th seed Cross, the 2018 champion, making three 180s in the opening set and a 170 checkout in the second leg.
But the 54-year-old Dutchman’s form deteriorated thereafter and Cross played well enough to dominate the last three sets, losing just three legs.
Cross admitted he struggled to handle the atmosphere initially, telling Sky Sports: “It was mental. Twenty-four months with Covid, I haven’t had a crowd like this and that first set I just couldn’t settle.
“Fair play to Raymond, he played absolutely brilliant. I think from there I started to settle a little bit more but it was a hard game. I’ve been playing so, so well, I’ve put a lot of time into this. I’m just so glad that I got the win.”
Cross will take on Daryl Gurney in the third round after Christmas while there were also victories in the evening session for Danny Noppert and Gabriel Clemens.
Earlier, seventh seed José de Sousa came from two sets down to defeat Jason Lowe while Alan Soutar won a dramatic clash to knock out Mensur Suljovic, taking an extended final leg 6-4 having trailed by two sets and two legs.
Soutar survived eight match darts before knocking out the world No 26. The 43-year-old Scot moves into the third round at London’s Alexandra Palace after his 3-2 win. Soutar sealed victory with a 144 finish to win the tie-breaker 6-4 against his Austrian opponent.
Finding it difficult to describe his relief, he said: “What happened there? In my head, I was dead and buried.” The Arbroath firefighter first secured a two-year PDC Tour Card at the UK Qualifying School in February and believes he has lived a charmed life since.
“This year on the tour I’ve had a bit of the rub of the green and long may it continue,” he told PDC Darts. “I didn’t play my best either. I think you have to learn on that stage to win without playing your best darts because I don’t think everyone does.”
Soutar now faces De Sousa in Wednesday’s third round.