Fallon Sherrock’s astonishing World Championship story continued at Alexandra Palace, as she produced a magnificent display to dump out 11th seed Mensur Suljovic on one of the most unforgettable nights in darting history.
Sherrock created history against Ted Evetts on Tuesday night when she became the first female to win a match at the PDC World Championship, but the 25-year-old arguably usurped that achievement by beating one of the world’s very best on Saturday evening.
Sherrock’s win over Evetts sparked unprecedented media coverage, with her ground-breaking triumph making major headlines across the globe.
The former Lakeside finalist appeared on virtually every major TV and Radio station within the UK as a result and the media hype surrounding her clash against Suljovic was remarkable.
Nevertheless, the Milton Keynes ace was the coolest person in Alexandra Palace on Saturday night, producing a world-class display of finishing to stun the Premier League star.
Sherrock received a hero’s reception from the capacity crowd whilst Suljovic embraced the inevitable role of pantomime villain. The Austrian appeared in control as he opened up a 2-0 lead in set one, but Sherrock had other ideas.
‘The Gentle’ spurned three clear darts to wrap up the opening stanza without reply and Sherrock responded by opening her account with a clinical 81 combination on double nine.
The right-handed thrower then sent the crowd into a frenzy with a majestic 131 checkout and with Suljovic shell-shocked, the queen of the Palace completed the comeback with a nerveless 70 checkout on tops.
The second set was a complete role-reversal. Sherrock maintained her phenomenal run of finishing to secure control with an effortless 104 finish – her second ton-plus outshot.
Nevertheless, this time it was Suljovic who overturned an improbable deficit- a brace of 71 finishes levelling up proceedings for the former Champions League of Darts winner.
This appeared to deflate Sherrock as the Austrian extended his winning sequence to five legs, but the former BDO World Trophy winner came back off the canvas – following up a solid 15-dart hold by firing in back-to-back maximums on the Suljovic throw.
It was the second time Sherrock has registered six perfect darts in this tournament – she was unable to record the perfect leg but an 11-darter saw her square the set and force a decider, where she capitalised on three expensive misses from Suljovic to pin double 16 and regain her lead.
Remarkably this was the third consecutive set which had been won by a player coming from 2-0 down, although that pattern came to a close in the fourth, as the pair traded breaks with the tension palpable.
The Austrian had the darts in set four but after Sherrock sank another clutch 68 combination on double 16, the former World Matchplay finalist was forced to throw to save his skin in this year’s showpiece.
Suljovic – despite his unorthodox approach, is renowned for being one of the world’s best under intense scrutiny, yet with the Ally Pally crowd sensing another shock of seismic proportions, the Austrian buckled.
Suljovic landed a maximum out of nowhere but could only leave 79 after 15 darts following a litany of stray visits, whilst Sherrock found a couple of priceless trebles to set herself up on 86.
‘The Gentle’ was first to a finish but he was unable to convert one dart at tops – a target that plagued him throughout the contest. Step forward Sherrock – she hit two single 18’s to give herself one dart at bull, and she delivered!
The roof almost came off the iconic venue as the 25-year-old, a 7/1 outsider for this match before a dart was thrown – completed one of the greatest World Championship shocks in sensational style.
“I can’t believe it,” said Sherrock, who will return on Friday December 27 to take on Chris Dobey in round three. “I’ve knocked out one of the best players in the world and it has given me the best feeling in the world.
“I was so happy when that bullseye went in. It was an amazing moment for me and I’ll be jumping around when I get home. I felt so comfortable and I really enjoyed it – I just want to get up there and play again.”
Sherrock’s win against Development Tour winner Evetts was hugely significant and the extensive media coverage illustrated that affirmation. However, this was off the darting Richter-scale.
Suljovic has been an established top eight player for the last three years and has won multiple ranking titles. Yet despite the huge pressure placed on her shoulders, Sherrock appeared unflappable.
She’s renowned for being a prolific scorer – her 2015 World Championship final defeat against Lisa Ashton saw her crash in a record six maximums, a total she matched against Evetts.
It was her doubling and ability to finish under pressure that was questioned, yet it proved to be the catalyst for her success against Suljovic. Sherrock converted 11 of her 16 attempts at double – an astonishing ratio of 69%.
Darts’ newest superstar converted combinations of 81, 131, 70, 104, 64, 56, 41, 66, 68 and 86 during her victory. Irrespective of gender that’s bonafide world-class finishing that would challenge anybody in the world.
For Sherrock to produce such brilliance on the biggest stage in world darts in arguably the biggest match of her life, is testament to her mental strength, composure and self-belief.
She’s a naturally shy character which makes her exploits all the more incredible – she looked overwhelmed by the reception she received during her walk-on but when George Noble called ‘Game On’, she was a picture of concentration and determination.
The ‘novelty’ factor surrounding a woman beating her male counterparts cannot be dismissed, but it’s not that simplistic – the masses realise that they’re witnessing a watershed moment in women’s darts and potentially women’s sport.
The anticipation surrounding this tussle was something the sport hasn’t experienced for over a decade – it’s not just a story that’s gripped the darting nation, it’s captured the imagination of the sporting public.
Sherrock’s rise to super-stardom has transcended the sport firmly into the public eye and her contribution to the women’s game has already been extraordinary. However, she insists she’s not done yet and on the evidence of what we’ve seen, you’d be foolish to doubt her.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC