Nathan Aspinall maintained his superb start to 2020 to clinch Players Championship Seven glory with a convincing 8-4 win over former World Grand Prix finalist Brendan Dolan in Barnsley on Saturday afternoon.
The 28-year-old reeled off six consecutive legs from 4-2 down to see off the Northern Irishman and clinch his fifth PDC title – his second in as many months – to scoop the £10,000 top prize in the process.
Aspinall relinquished his UK Open crown in Minehead last weekend but has underlined his continued development with a promising start to his debut Premier League campaign, and he returned to the winner’s circle at the Barnsley Metrodome.
Aspinall opened up proceedings with a tidy 13-dart hold, only for Dolan to storm into a 3-1 lead. The pair then traded holds, before the Stockport star upped the ante, following up a 14-darter with finishes of 136 and 90 for successive 12-dart legs and a 5-4 advantage.
Dolan was beginning to wilt and squandered four darts at double to restore parity at five apiece and Aspinall duly capitalised to move 6-4 ahead, before sealing the deal with legs of 13 and 14 darts to triumph with a 98.20 average.
“I played steady at times and not so well at others but I’m really happy. I’m full of confidence and was determined to have a good run this weekend,” Aspinall reflected.
“I know what I can produce and I know how good I am and there is no reason why I can’t win more titles. The other half is booking our wedding soon so I need the money,” joked the world number seven.
‘The Asp’ – fresh from sharing the spoils with Gary Anderson on Night Six of the Premier League in Liverpool, defeated Alan Tabern and Geert Nentjes to set up a showdown with Chris Dobey, who is set to feature as a ‘challenger’ in Newcastle next week.
Both men averaged over a ton but Aspinall ran out a 6-3 winner with a 104.10 average, before easing past Vincent van der Voort with another ton-plus average to set up a clash with world number one Michael van Gerwen, in a repeat of their recent UK Open clash.
Van Gerwen defeated Aspinall on that occasion and fresh from his Minehead success, ‘The Green Machine’ posted averages of 96, 104, 104 and 102 en route to the last eight, only to suffer a 6-1 drubbing against Aspinall, who punished a below-par display from the Dutchman to progress.
Another Dutchman awaited Aspinall in the semi-finals, as Danny Noppert saw off Rob Cross, Daryl Gurney and Krzysztof Ratajski to reach the last four, but ‘Noppie’ was unable to add the former UK Open champion to his list of scalps, succumbing 7-3 with a 103 average to Aspinall’s 105.50.
We saw more astonishing darts in Barnsley, with 41 ton-plus averages recorded throughout the day. Dolan accounted for one of those in his stunning opening round success against Adrian Gray, although the Northern Irishman was denied an eighth PDC title in Saturday’s showpiece.
‘The History Maker’ kicked off proceedings with a 107 average in his 6-4 victory over Gray, before defeating young stars Niels Zonneveld and Ciaran Teehan by the same scoreline. Dolan then eased past Dave Chisnall 6-2 to secure a spot in his second Pro Tour quarter-final of 2020.
The 46-year-old was pitted against surprise package Derk Telnekes in the last eight, as the Dutchman defeated World Cup winners Gary Anderson and Peter Wright to reach his first senior PDC quarter-final, only for Dolan to fight back from 5-2 down and prevail after surviving match darts.
Nine-time major winner James Wade awaited Dolan in the semi-finals, with ‘The Machine’ crashing in four ton-plus averages throughout the day and overcoming Glen Durrant and Ian White, yet Wade was humbled 7-1 by a clinical Dolan, who converted finishes of 170 and 146 to triumph.
The Premier League quartet of Anderson, Cross and Michael Smith bowed out in the third round, with Wright, Gurney and Durrant all falling at the fourth round hurdle. Lisa Ashton claimed a notable 6-2 win over Gabriel Clemens, before losing out 6-5 to Andrew Gilding despite averaging 95.
There were a number of absentees due to the Coronavirus pandemic, with Grand Slam holder Gerwyn Price and two-time world champion Adrian Lewis among those opting not to compete, whilst Darius Labanauskas, Ratajski and Krzysztof Kciuk won’t be able to participate on Sunday.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC