Michael Smith survives scare in World Darts Championship title defence opener

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    Michael Smith was made to sweat in his opening match of the Paddy Power PDC World Darts Championship.

    The incumbent king of the darts world evaded Kevin Doets with a 3-2 comeback victory at Alexandra Palace to reach the second round by the skin of his teeth. But the early setback also saw 'Bully Boy' produce a terrific performance that could set the tone for the rest of his tournament.

    Doets, 25, set up a late fixture with the world No1 after sweeping Stowe Buntz aside 3-0 in the opening match of the tournament. And the Dutchman appeared to be building on that momentum with a promising start against the titleholder.

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    Smith, 33, won the first set before 'Hawk Eye' clinched two in a row to respond. It was also Doets who was landing the majority of maximums and ton-plus scores at this stage.

    That was when something appeared to stir in Bully Boy, and the crowd rallied behind the reigning champ in kind. Two particularly impressive checkouts of 150, 142 and 120 put into context the scale of Smith's achievement after having his back against the wall.

    Who do you think will win the Paddy Power PDC World Darts Championship? Let us know in the comments section below.

    It was heartbreak for Doets, however, after the Dutchman built expectations for a giant-slaying. Ultimately, though, his debut at Ally Pally ended in a defeat that went along with the script.

    "Being 2-1 down there was a 142 in there somewhere, but I nearly threw it away by missing a nine darter to make it 3-0," said Smith after the win. "I just kept plugging, kept fighting. When he took it to 2-1 up, he gave me a point with his finger and I remember last year, Martin Schindler did that as well, now you’ve just got to ruin him.

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    "When I was driving up to the Alexandra Palace, it was the same nerves as last year. 13 years in a row it’s the same nerves, I was quite happy with that. The only thing I was unhappy about was that I missed four 9s or five 9s in the back room.

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