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Justin Pipe focused on avoiding shock first evening exit in UK Open

By Western Gazette - North Dorset  |  Posted: June 06, 2013

  • NO REPEAT: Justin Pipe will not celebrate wins with donkey kicks, above, after injury. Pictures by Lawrence Lustig

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JUSTIN Pipe has briefly shelved dreams of UK Open glory in order to focus on avoiding becoming a potential shock exit from the FA Cup of darts.

The PDC ace of North Curry near Langport is among a host of big names lined up against minnows in tonight's opening rounds of the £200,000 event at Bolton's De Vere Whites Premier Suite.

The 41-year-old, ranked tenth in the world, takes on Gareth Pass with the winner challenging resurgent Dutchman Jelle Klaasen later in the evening.

Sixteen-time World Champion Phil Taylor has been drawn against Kevin Dowling, whilst McCoy's Premier League star and twice UK Open winner James Wade faces Robbie Green.

Pipe said: "I just want to get through tonight, nothing other than that matters right now. I've got quite an awkward one to start against Gareth Pass and if I win that I've got Jelle Klaasen.

"He's hit a good bit of form at the minute so it's a case of taking one match at a time and not looking beyond that. I will see what happens, take it as it comes and see how far I can get.

"Phil's coming in tonight against Kevin Dowling, which will be awkward and Phil won't have it his own way. If Kevin knocks in a couple of 12-darters it will be awkward and Phil won't be taking him lightly.

"It's tough and will be for everybody because we're not used to playing the first to four. James Wade has got Robbie Green who is from the BDO and is used to playing short formats like that, so that will be interesting as well.

"There could be a few surprises on that first night and hopefully I'm not one of them."

The top 96 performers across eight qualifiers earned progression to this week's four-day tournament at the home of Bolton Wanderers.

Finishing 61st and earning £1,200 meant Pipe enters the competition in the first round in illustrious company.

A slow start to 2013 reflected by Pipe's early entrance is now in the past, with the former tree surgeon heading north in confident mood.

Last weekend he fell at the first hurdle to Kevin McDine in the Austrian Open, but seven days earlier bowed out of a Players Championship round at the semi-final stage for the first time this year.

Pipe believes solid practice coupled with recovery from an unusual injury are behind his return to form, even if it does spell the end for a trademark celebration.

"My form is coming back now," he said. I have had a slight right hand injury and I've been having ultrasound treatment on it so it is coming back to normal now.

"I'm feeling a lot better with my release of the dart which has been the big problem. I crushed the bones between the wrist and my hand.

"The scaphoid and metacarpal were crushed all together and the group of six or seven bones there were damaged from doing the donkey kicks, believe it or not, when celebrating.

"That's it, I won't be doing them any more. If it's a big game it would be easy for me to jump around and release the pressure when celebrating.

"I've reached two quarter-finals in the European Tour but I have put the donkey kick right out of my head now. I'm getting older and fatter and the poor wrists can't take it any more.

"I've been receiving ultrasound treatment for two-and-a-half weeks and it's been getting better and better by the week.

"I went to Wigan full of confidence because the practice has been going so well, and I was quite disappointed I didn't at least make the semi-final on the Sunday.

"The confidence is high again."

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