Gerwyn Price retained his International Darts Open title after fighting back from 5-3 down to defeat Rob Cross in a dramatic finale on Sunday evening in Riesa.
Price defeated Simon Whitlock at this event 12 months ago to seal his maiden European Tour crown and he produced a battling comeback to deny Cross a first title on German soil, taking out two crucial ton-plus checkouts en route to scooping the £25,000 top prize.
‘The Iceman’ drew first blood with a classy 14-dart hold, although Cross levelled via double three, after the Welshman missed tops for an eye-catching 105 checkout. ‘Voltage’ then hit the front with a clinical 12-dart break, only for Price to cancel that out with a brilliant 87 kill on the bull.
The pendulum swung once again as Price missed four darts at double to hold in leg five, allowing Cross to restore the lead with a 13-darter culminating on tops. The World Matchplay champion extended his lead courtesy of a stunning 148 outshot, only for Price to reply with a 121 finish to reduce the arrears.
The world No 2 regained his two-leg buffer after pinning tops for the third time in the contest, but the defending champion capitalised on an uncharacteristic mid-game slump from Cross to reel off three consecutive legs and seize the initiative at 6-5.
The former world champion recovered in leg twelve to complete a 13-dart hold via double four, although Price found the finishing touch when it mattered most. The Grand Slam champion took out a crucial 98 checkout to move 7-6 ahead, before sealing the deal with a superb 108 after Cross spurned two darts to force a decider.
“It’s the first time I’ve defended a title, so I’m over the moon,” said Price. “Every game is like that [final] for me now and when I play people like Glen and the top players in the world like Rob, it’s never going to be easy.
“I’m happy to get over the winning line. I had three weeks off and after the break I wasn’t very confident – I changed my darts, had a new set of darts and it seemed to work for me.
“I usually start pretty well at the beginning of the year and then taper off, hopefully that’s a bit different this year. I’m a bit more confident now after winning this one. Maybe [I’ll have] a weekend off next week and then I can look forward to Gibraltar and the rest of the year,” he added.
The 34-year-old kicked off Sunday’s proceedings at the Sachsenarena with a battling 6-4 win over Joe Murnan, before fighting back from 2-0 down to defeat UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall by the same scoreline to secure a spot in the semi-finals.
This set up a last four showdown against three-time Lakeside world champion Glen Durrant, who followed up Saturday’s win over James Richardson by defeating qualifier Michael Rosenauer and world No 3 Daryl Gurney to reach his first ever European Tour semi-final.
Nevertheless, Durrant’s hopes of lifting a third PDC title were thwarted by a clinical Price, who averaged 101.89 and converted 54% of his attempts at double to prevail and inflict a fourth defeat on ‘Duzza’ in their last five meetings.
Cross’ progress to the semi-finals in Riesa was serene to say the least. The ninth seed whitewashed last week’s European Darts Matchplay champion Joe Cullen to breeze through to the last eight – averaging 101.33 in the process.
The 28-year-old then swept aside comeback king Richard North 6-1 in the quarter-finals, to set up a showdown with Peter Wright – who whitewashed two-time world champion Adrian Lewis at the same stage.
Wright – appearing in his second big stage semi-final of the month, also accounted for Austrian Darts Championship winner Mensur Suljovic earlier in the day. However, Cross held his nerve to edge out Snakebite 7-6 in a scrappy last-leg decider to reach his fourth European Tour final.
Nevertheless, although Cross came up agonisingly short, there were plenty of positives to take. “Fair play to Gezzy there, he played better and deserved to win,” said Cross. “I come to the long days and I can’t seem to get over that winning line, but I’ve enjoyed my weekend. It’s been fantastic.”
Now all attention turns to the race for next month’s European Championship, as the 2019 European Tour concludes with the Gibraltar Darts Trophy from September 27-29 at the Victoria Stadium.
Photo Credit: Tobias Wenzel / PDC Europe
2019 International Darts Open
Sunday September 15
Daryl Gurney 6-5 Steve Beaton
Glen Durrant 6-3 Michael Rosenauer
Nathan Aspinall 6-5 Ricky Evans
Gerwyn Price 6-4 Joe Murnan
Peter Wright 6-3 Mensur Suljovic
Adrian Lewis 6-2 Jonny Clayton
Rob Cross 6-0 Joe Cullen
Richard North 6-5 Steve West
Glen Durrant 6-4 Daryl Gurney
Gerwyn Price 6-4 Nathan Aspinall
Peter Wright 6-0 Adrian Lewis
Rob Cross 6-1 Richard North
Gerwyn Price 7-3 Glen Durrant
Rob Cross 7-6 Peter Wright
Gerwyn Price 8-6 Rob Cross