Van Gerwen launches title defence with routine win

Michael Van Gerwen started the defence of his PDC World Championship with a comfortable victory over Christian Kist at Alexandra Palace.

Despite all the talk surrounding Phil Taylor's quest for a 17th world title before retirement, Van Gerwen still remains the man to beat over the next fortnight.

And the world number one, who beat Gary Anderson in last year's final, had no problems sweeping aside fellow Dutchman Kist 3-1 on the opening night.

The signs were ominous from the off, Van Gerwen starting proceedings with a 180 and completing the first set with a stunning 141 checkout.

Kist got on the board in the fifth leg and, although Van Gerwen sealed the second set, the 31-year-old upped his game and halved the deficit.

But Van Gerwen whitewashed Kist in the final set, finishing the match with four 180s and an average of 106 to lay down an early marker to his rivals.

The two-time world champion told Sky Sports: "It is always nice to come back to the Alexandra Palace for the World Championship. A great game like this to start off a tournament is always nice for your confidence.

"I also want to say well done to Christian Kist. He put me under pressure and played well. It was a nice start for me. I am really glad I won this game."

Van Gerwen will take on James Wilson in the second round.

Wilson, who has changed his nickname from 'Jammy Dodger' to 'Lethal Biscuit', came from behind to see off Krzysztof Ratajski 3-1.

Earlier, Steve Beaton kicked off the evening with a routine 3-1 victory over William O'Connor.



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