PDC World Championship: Josh Rock beats Jose Justicia on Alexandra Palace debut

Joshua Rock
Joshua Rock will now face England’s Callan Rydz in the second round

Northern Ireland’s Josh Rock won on his Alexandra Palace debut at the PDC World Championship on Saturday.

The world youth champion defeated Spanish player Jose Justicia 3-1 in a tricky first-round match.

Rock took the opening set before Justicia levelled the tie at 1-1. The 21-year-old then made a checkout of 150 in the third set to regain the lead on his way to victory.

“I was making sure I wasn’t going home tonight,” Rock told Sky Sports.

“I played OK in the first set but that second set I played absolutely dreadful and I walked off the stage, looked at my fiancee and said ‘wake up, Josh’. I knew what I had to do.”

Rock’s next opponent will be England’s Callan Rydz.

Four-time women’s world champion Lisa Ashton almost completed a comeback in her first-round match against Ryan Meikle but was eventually defeated 3-2 by the Englishman.

Ashton was 2-0 down but took back-to-back sets to take the match to a decider, which Meikle won in three straight legs.

The 26-year-old will face Dutchman Raymond van Barneveld in the second round.

In the afternoon sessions, Northern Ireland’s Daryl Gurney became the first seeded player to be knocked out after he was beaten 3-0 by Scotland’s Andrew Soutar in the last 64.

Soutar works as a firefighter in Dundee and said he will be working throughout the Christmas break before returning to Alexandra Palace on 27 December for his third-round tie with Ryan Searle.

Former runner-up Simon Whitlock opened his 20th World Championship campaign with a hard-fought win over Christian Perez of the Philippines.

Australian Whitlock, who takes on Jose de Sousa in the second round, eventually ran out a 3-2 winner after Perez missed crucial doubles in the deciding set.

Richie Burnett’s first World Championship appearance in nine years ended in a 3-2 defeat by Czech player Adam Gawlas.

In the final match of day three, 15th seed Dimitri van den Bergh’s class told against Filipino Lourence Ilagan, the Belgian winning 3-0.

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