Mikuru Suzuki retained her World Championship title with an emphatic 3-0 success over four-time champion Lisa Ashton on a dramatic day at the Indigo at the O2, as Keane Barry claimed World Youth Championship glory with victory over 14-year-old Leighton Bennett on Saturday.
Suzuki stunned the darting world by claiming World Championship glory on debut at Lakeside 12 months ago, defeating 49-year-old Ashton in the first round on that occasion.
However, the Japanese sensation has established herself at the very elite of the women’s game since then, impressing at the Grand Slam of Darts and coming within 36 points of registering a ground-breaking win at the PDC World Championship last month.
Nevertheless, ‘Miracle’ had not been at her blistering best throughout the week whilst Ashton had breezed through to her sixth World Championship final without relinquishing a set, therefore ‘The Lancashire Rose’ was highly-fancied to claim a fifth world title.
Ashton won the opening leg of the contest before Suzuki took charge – reeling off five consecutive legs to move to the cusp of a 2-0 cushion. Missed doubles from Mikuru enabled Ashton to level set two with legs of 18 and 16 darts, only for Suzuki to peg tops for a 17-darter and a two-set buffer.
The reigning champion claimed the early spoils in set three with a classy 14-darter, but the top seed demonstrated her credentials with a 118 combination finish, followed by a 14-darter of her own.
Suzuki wrapped up a scrappy fourth leg to force a pivotal third set decider and Ashton had two darts at double 15 to reduce the arrears but she frittered away both opportunities and the 36-year-old capitalised, completing a nerveless 71 kill on tops to retain her title.
It was a champion’s performance from Suzuki, who defeated last year’s semi-finalist Maria O’Brien, three-time winner Anastasia Dobromyslova and 16-year-old sensation Beau Greaves en route to glory.
The Japanese trailblazer trailed her opponent in both the averages (83.39 compared to Ashton’s 85) and the checkout success rate (30% to Ashton’s 31.25%), although her timing was exemplary as she extended her remarkable World Championship winning run to eight games.
Elsewhere, 17-year-old Irish star Keane Barry secured his maiden World Youth Championship title with a straight sets win over last year’s winner Leighton Bennett. ‘Boom Boom’ captured the crown at the age of 13 last year, but he was blown away by a brilliant Barry on Saturday afternoon.
The Irish youngster recently lost in the first round of the PDC World Championship against Vincent van der Voort, having qualified via winning the Tom Kirby Irish Matchplay and he also scooped the JDC World Youth title with victory over fellow 17-year-old star Adam Gawlas.
Barry further underlined his credentials by posting an impressive 90.54 average to defeat 14-year-old Bennett, who posted two maximums and averaged just under 85 in a creditable display.
The scoreline perhaps didn’t provide a fair reflection for Bennett, who became the youngest player to feature in the senior BDO World Championship against Scott Mitchell earlier this week. He lost the opening set 3-1, before Barry claimed each of the next two via deciding legs.
Meanwhile, in the men’s draw, second seed Jim Williams will take on fifth seed Wayne Warren in an all-Welsh final on Sunday evening, after the pair overcome Mario Vandenbogaerde and Scott Mitchell respectively on Saturday.
Williams was the bookmakers favourite for this event before a dart was thrown and although ‘The Quiff’ endured a few hair-raising moments in his opening round win over Gary Stone, he eased past Ryan Hogarth and Paul Hogan for the loss of the solitary set.
Williams stormed into an early 2-0 lead against Vandenbogaerde, before the Belgian halved the deficit with the aid of a stylish 140 outshot. He levelled the contest after the Welshman spurned several chances to restore his lead, although Williams regained the advantage with a clean sweep in set five.
Debutant Vandenbogaerde edged a closely-contested sixth set to restore parity, only to see Williams power into a 5-3 advantage. The Belgian kept battling and reduced the arrears to 5-4, but the World Trophy champion kept his cool to prevail with a 90.98 average and eight maximums.
The 35-year-old will meet his senior compatriot in Sunday’s showpiece, after Warren produced a clinical display of finishing to dump out 2015 champion Scott Mitchell. ‘The Yank’ endured a nightmare start however, slipping 2-0 behind with a miserly average of 80.
Warren rallied superbly to turn the contest on its head and move 3-2 ahead courtesy of a clutch 12-darter, although ‘Scotty Dog’ stopped the rot to square proceedings at three apiece.
Mitchell displayed remarkable consistency in the scoring department but Warren’s heavy artillery coupled with his clinical finishing saw him reel off the final three sets without reply, sealing his progression with a 93.32 average, 13 maximums and a stunning 58.80% checkout success rate.
Photo Credit: Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images
Wayne Warren 6-3 Scott Mitchell
Jim Williams 6-4 Mario Vandenbogaerde
Mikuru Suzuki 3-0 Lisa Ashton
World Youth Final
Keane Barry 3-0 Leighton Bennett