Thu, 20 Dec 2018
Luke beat Adam Hunt on Sunday (Picture: Lawrence Lusting/PDC)
LUKE Humphries has set up a second-round clash with world number 18 Stephen Bunting at the World Darts Championships at Alexandra Palace.
The 23-year-old took just short of 20 minutes to beat Adam Hunt 3-0 on Sunday evening to move into the next round.
Although Humphries lost the first leg of the first set, he turned it around to win nine consecutive legs and ease to victory.
Humphries, who averaged 97.58, said: “The first set was a bit scrappy, but I’m really pleased with how I played after that.”
And he believed that winning the opening set – which included an impressive 121 check-out – helped him settle down to go on and win the match.
“I needed to get in there quick and take the first set because it settles you down,” he admitted. “I think that was a key moment because it made me think I could kick on and get the win.
“It puts the pressure on your opponent because it makes you tell them that they can’t afford mistakes and I think that kick-started me because every big finish always boosts your confidence.”
Not only was the win big for his confidence, but also for his ranking in the current PDC order of merit, which can help him retain his tour card.
Humphries said: “It was one of my most important, and best, performances to date because it’s key for my PDC order of merit which almost takes me up to within the top 70 of the world.”
Last year, Humphries was eliminated before the first round by Canadian qualifier Jeff Smith, but he believes he’s improved a lot this time around.
“You remember the past, but you want to rectify what happened and last year I felt I underperformed, he admitted. “The world championships came a little too soon, but it was a great experience.
“I feel like I am a better player this year and the Development and Challenge Tours have really helped me and without them I wouldn’t be here playing like I did.”
Although it took Humphries less than 20 minutes to dispatch Hunt on Sunday evening, he still feels he can improve.
“It was a good performance, but I’ve got a lot more potential and I think I can still provide a lot more,” he said. “I don’t think I need to add much more, I think I just need to start off a little bit quicker.”
Humphries is due to play Bunting in the afternoon session today (Thursday) and is full of confidence heading into the second-round clash.
“I was a bit nervous [at the start], but my finishing was pretty decent and I think I can do that again when I face Stephen,” he admitted. “He won’t let me win easy, but I know I am up to the task.
“There is a lot more to come. It’s not my full potential, but I know Stephen will give me a game full of pressure.”
Humphries was supported by members of his family on Sunday and he thanked them for their support.
“They’ll be very proud – to get the win was fantastic,” he said. “They all travel with me and to get the victory on the big stage was huge for myself and them too.
“They really do look after me and credit to them because I wouldn’t be here without them,” he added.