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Michael Smith eliminated by van Barneveld in World Darts Championship opener
9:25am Monday 17th December 2012 in Sport
RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD produced the most impressive performance of the 2013 Ladbrokes World Darts Championship to date as he brushed aside Michael Smith in an 18-minute demolition.
The Dutch star, who claimed an emotional victory in last month's Grand Slam of Darts, dropped just one leg and ended the contest with a brilliant three-dart average of 108.31 - his highest in a World Championship.
He also landed eight 180s, hit seven perfect darts in one leg and finishes of 121 and 111, and will now play Brendan Dolan for a place in the last 16 as he bids to claim a sixth World Championship title.
"I feel like the happiest man in darts right now because I'm playing to a high standard and producing good averages," admitted van Barneveld, who admitted the win erased the memories of last year's first round loss to James Richardson.
"When I lost here in the first round last year, it was the most disappointing moment of my career. It gave me motivation for 2012 and my hard work on the practice board has been paying off over the last month or so.
"I've been watching the other matches at home before coming here and the impression I got is that everyone was looking scared and not playing to their potential - but this is the World Championship, so come and play your best game!
"I feel great and if I can keep playing at this level then I can beat anyone."
Smith, who had lost in straight sets to another Dutchman, Co Stompe, on his World Championship debut 12 months ago, held throw to win the first leg before van Barneveld recorded a fabulous 11-dart finish to take the second, which featured a 180.
Van Barneveld hit another maximum in process of taking the third leg in 13 darts before hitting double 16 in the next to win the set in style.
Van Barneveld continued his superb form at the start of the second set as he converted a 121 checkout, despite a 180 from Smith.
The five-time World Champion won the second leg with another 11-dart finish before beginning the third with back-to-back 180s to ignite hopes of a nine-darter.
The seventh treble 20 was successfully hit but the attempt at treble 19 was just off-target, ending van Barneveld's hopes of hitting his third nine-dart finish at Alexandra Palace, although he returned to land double 16 to move two sets clear.
Smith let three chances to win the first leg of the third set slip by and van Barneveld stepped in to hit double 16 before posting a 78 finish to move 2-0 up, and a 111 checkout for a 12-darter saw the Dutchman complete a fine performance.