Dirk van Duijvenbode clinched his first PDC ranking title with an 8-6 victory over his fellow Dutchman Martijn Kleermaker in the final of Players Championship 11 in Niedernhausen.
The World Grand Prix finalist boasted the highest average on the Pro Tour in 2021 prior to Super Series 3, and he transferred those impressive performances into results to scoop his maiden Pro Tour title in Germany.
The 28-year-old reeled off five consecutive legs from 3-1 down to defeat David Evans in his opener, before posting a stunning 105.9 average to dispatch his compatriot Jelle Klaasen in round two. ‘The Aubergenius’ then recorded a brace of 6-4 wins over Jeff Smith and Krzysztof Ratajski to advance to the last eight.
Van Duijvenbode fended off the challenge of former Lakeside world champion Scott Mitchell to set up a semi-final clash against Andy Boulton, and despite leading 4-3 at one stage, ‘The X-Factor’ was denied a spot in a first PDC ranking final, as the enigmatic Dutchman won four of the final five legs to prevail 7-5.
This set up an all-Dutch affair in Monday’s showpiece, as Kleermaker produced a string of fine performances to reach his first PDC final. The 30-year-old endured a torrid spell during the opening two Super Series, but he followed up a third round appearance on Saturday with a superb showing.
‘The Dutch Giant’ posted a ton-plus average to kick off his campaign with victory against John Henderson, before edging out Gabriel Clemens in a dramatic decider.
Kleermaker then followed up a narrow win over his fellow countryman Luc Peters by dumping out Sunday’s winner Michael Smith, before advancing through another last-leg shootout against Ritchie Edhouse to reach the last four.
Kleermaker accounted for an in-form Brendan Dolan in the semi-finals, as the Northern Irishman was denied a second Pro Tour triumph in as many months. ‘The History Maker’ claimed the scalps of Mensur Suljovic and Rob Cross to record yet another semi-final appearance, only to succumb 7-5 in a topsy-turvy contest.
Van Duijvenbode stole a march in Monday’s showpiece, establishing an early 2-0 cushion albeit in scrappy fashion, before Kleermaker followed up a 109 kill with a 13-darter to level proceedings.
Van Duijvenbode restored his two leg cushion at 4-2, with the pair then trading the next four legs before Kleermaker responded once more, registering another break of throw and a sensational 140 checkout to draw level at six apiece.
Nevertheless, Van Duijvenbode rallied to regain the initiative with another break of throw in leg 13, before he sealed the deal in dramatic style moments later. Kleermaker squandered five darts at double to force a decider in which he would have had the advantage of throw, and ‘The Aubergenius’ eventually prevailed via double 16.
“We were both nervous. When I thought I could finish it, I was more nervous than him, and then when he needed to stay in it he was more nervous,” admitted Van Duijvenbode.
“I was in great form the last two series and thought I would win a title but I didn’t. The last two days I have been poor, so I went into today just hoping I would win the first round.
“On the one side I know I need to play better, but on the other it is great to win when not playing your best. Sometimes you have to win on a bad day, but I always want to play well and that is what I think about – and then it all comes together,” added the 28-year-old.
Elsewhere in Niedernhausen, Michael van Gerwen endured another frustrating afternoon; departing at the second round stage following a 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Gino Vos.
Ian White suffered his third successive opening round exit, while Saturday’s winner Jose De Sousa bowed out at the same stage, alongside Dave Chisnall, Daryl Gurney and Vincent van der Voort.
Raymond van Barneveld posted a 101 average in his opening round success against Steve Brown, but the five-time world champion subsequently withdrew from the tournament on medical grounds, and he will be replaced in Players Championship 12 by his compatriot Jeroen Mioch.
Image Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
2021 Players Championship 11 – PDC Super Series 3 Day Three
Monday April 26, H+ Hotel, Niedernhausen
Andy Boulton 6-1 Chas Barstow
Damon Heta 6-5 Chris Dobey
Scott Mitchell 6-2 Robert Thornton
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-4 Krzysztof Ratajski
Rob Cross 6-5 Jason Lowe
Brendan Dolan 6-5 Mensur Suljovic
Martijn Kleermaker 6-3 Michael Smith
Ritchie Edhouse 6-1 Lewis Williams
Andy Boulton 6-5 Damon Heta
Dirk Van Duijvenbode 6-4 Scott Mitchell
Brendan Dolan 6-4 Rob Cross
Martijn Kleermaker 6-5 Ritchie Edhouse
Dirk van Duijvenbode 7-5 Andy Boulton
Martijn Kleermaker 7-5 Brendan Dolan
Dirk van Duijvenbode 8-6 Martijn Kleermaker