Adrian Lewis claimed his first PDC title in almost two years with an 8-3 victory over Raymond van Barneveld in the final of Players Championship 8 in Wigan on Sunday afternoon.
Lewis secured the 25th PDC title of his career on the final day of this weekend’s Pro Tour double-header, boasting a tournament average of 96.97 to clinch his first title since April 2017 at the Robin Park Tennis Centre.
Lewis was in ruthless mood throughout the day, dropping no more than three legs in any match. He kicked off his campaign with an emphatic whitewash win over Mark Dudbridge, before easing past former Lakeside world champions Mark Webster and Glen Durrant to reach the last 16.
‘Jackpot’ then recorded consecutive 6-2 wins over Luke Woodhouse and Vincent van der Voort to reach the last four, where he produced his best performance of the day, averaging 110.2 in a 7-1 demolition of Jonny Clayton.
Lewis met his old rival Van Barneveld in Sunday’s showpiece, with the five-time world champion appearing in his first ranking final since 2015. Lewis drew first blood with a 138 finish and opened up a 2-0 cushion, but Van Barneveld hit back with consecutive finishes of 110, 118 and 70 to lead 3-2.
The Dutchman missed the bull for a 4-2 advantage and Lewis capitalised, levelling proceedings on double 10 before firing in legs of 11 and 13 darts to establish a 5-3 buffer.
The turning point came in leg nine, as Lewis conjured up an inspired 149 checkout to break Van Barneveld’s throw and the Stoke-on-Trent star then powered to victory, producing 14 and 15-dart legs to triumph with a 101.1 average to seal the £10,000 winner’s prize.
“That was one of the hardest games I’ve ever played, it was a bit like going back in time,”said Lewis, who returns to the world’s top 16 after halting his run of five ranking final defeats.
“Raymond is still one of the world’s best players, he’s having a tough time at the moment because the Premier League can be so difficult when you’re on a losing run. It can be hard to pick yourself up when you start dreading it, so fair play to Raymond today he showed a lot of fight to reach the final.
“These floor tournaments are the hardest ones to win so I’m delighted to get back to winning ways and now I’m looking forward to getting back where I know I should be.”
Although Van Barneveld was denied a first PDC title since his memorable Premier League triumph in 2014, it was a very positive day for the 51-year-old, who is back in the world’s top 32 as a result of his exploits in Wigan.
The Den Haag ace kicked off Sunday’s action with a convincing 6-3 win over Jose Justicia, before surviving a multitude of match darts to edge out Zoran Lerchbacher to mark his best Pro Tour showing of 2019 thus far.
Van Barneveld then saw off his fellow countryman Geert Nentjes to reach round-four, before he posted successive ton-plus averages to defeat Martin Schindler and Jan Dekker to reach his first Pro Tour semi-final since 2016.
In the last four, Barney faced former World Youth champion Keegan Brown, who defeated Saturday’s winner Dave Chisnall in round-one to reach his first Pro Tour semi-final of the season. However, Van Barneveld claimed a dramatic 7-6 success, taking out 104 in the decider to reach the final.
“I was really fighting today, it’s really good for me to reach this final,” said Van Barneveld. “Of course this gives me extra belief that anything is possible, but I want to say well done to Adrian. I have a lot of respect for the way he has battled back over the last year or so, and now I have to do the same in my final seven months in the game.”
Two-time world champion Gary Anderson suffered a frustrating first-round exit after relinquishing a 4-0 lead against Conan Whitehead, as the Premier League quartet of Peter Wright, Michael Smith, Gerwyn Price and Daryl Gurney all bowed out in round-two.
Elsewhere, nine-time major winner James Wade was beaten by a resurgent Van der Voort in round-three, as ‘The Dutch Destroyer’ marked his return to form by reaching back-to-back Pro Tour quarter-finals.
2018 world champion Rob Cross pulled out of Sunday’s tournament through illness, whilst world number one Michael van Gerwen and World Matchplay finalist Mensur Suljovic did not feature in either of this weekend’s events.
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