Michael van Gerwen broke down in tears after surviving a major scare to defeat Fallon Sherrock and clinch his first title of 2021 with victory in the Nordic Darts Masters in Copenhagen on Saturday evening.
Van Gerwen was bidding to end a ten-month title drought, with his most recent triumph coming in last November’s Players Championship Finals. However, the world No 3 was back to his brilliant best in the inaugural World Series event in Scandinavia.
‘The Green Machine’ was forced to recover from 5-4 down to defeat Lithuania’s Darius Labanauskas in his opener on Friday, but the Dutchman posted successive ton-plus averages to seal his place in Saturday’s showpiece; breezing past Madars Razma 10-4, before wrapping up an 11-7 success against Premier League champion Jonny Clayton.
However, Van Gerwen was forced to recover from 6-3 down against an inspired Sherrock, who established a commanding three-leg cushion with a 103 average. ‘The Queen of the Palace’ was unable to complete the fairytale, but she made history by becoming the first female player to reach a televised PDC final against male opposition.
Sherrock dispatched host nation qualifier Niels Heinsøe in her first round clash, before receiving a bye through to the semi-finals, courtesy of world No 1 Gerwyn Price withdrawing from the tournament due to an elbow injury.
Nevertheless, she produced an astonishing comeback to defeat world No 5 Dimitri Van den Bergh in an absorbing last four tussle, surviving eight match darts and recovering from 7-1, 8-2 and 10-6 deficits to prevail in a deciding-leg shootout.
The 27-year-old converted nerveless 106 and 101 finishes to force a decider after the Belgian fluffed his lines in the latter stages, and Sherrock sealed the deal in style – kicking off the 21st and final leg with a maximum, before completing the comeback with a clinical 100 kill.
Van Gerwen raced into a 2-0 lead in the final, following up a 180 in his opening visit with a classy 110 finish to double his advantage. Sherrock was undeterred however, reeling off six of the next seven legs in either 13 or 14 darts to leave the three-time world champion stunned.
‘Mighty Mike’ reduced the arrears with consecutive 122 and 72 combination finishes, but Sherrock regained her two-leg cushion via double nine, after Van Gerwen had missed tops for a 154 checkout to level at six apiece.
The world No 3 restored parity at seven apiece with legs of 13 and 14 darts, and despite Sherrock’s best efforts, the Dutchman’s superior scoring power paid dividends as a sequence of six straight legs catapulted him to the title, which he sealed with a two-dart 80 combination.
The Dutchman broke down in tears as he lifted the trophy, and admitted: “To win this means a lot to me and I’m very proud. I’ve been through a really tough period, there was so much pressure on my shoulders.
“I’ve had to wait a long time to win a trophy – for my ability and what I’m capable of, it’s been too long, but that makes it even nicer, and this tournament had everything.
“It was very difficult for me and I’ve had to work really hard. Jonny played out of his skin in the semi-final and I can only give credit to Fallon for how she played.
“She played a phenomenal tournament and I think she played one of the best games of her life in the final, and I had to find another gear.
“It’s been a phenomenal day of darts for everyone and I think I deserved it this weekend, I played really well overall. The fans have been absolutely incredible and I can’t thank them enough, I hope I can come back next year.”
Sherrock’s exploits in Copenhagen represented the perfect preparation ahead of the impending PDC Women’s Series, where is she targeting qualification for both the Grand Slam of Darts and the PDC World Championship.
“I was so proud of myself, especially to push Michael as much as I did. It’s Michael van Gerwen, and I was so close to him,” Sherrock reflected.
“I cannot put into words how I was feeling [at 6-3 up] – I was shaking but I had to stay calm. I’ve taken every opportunity that I can get.
“Showing everyone how I can play and pushing one of the best in the world, I’m so happy.”
Image Credit: Mikal Schlosser/PDC
2021 Viaplay Nordic Darts Masters
Saturday September 18
Fallon Sherrock Bye (Gerwyn Price withdrew)
Dimitri Van den Bergh 10-8 Gary Anderson
Jonny Clayton 10-3 Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen 10-4 Madars Razma
Fallon Sherrock 11-10 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Michael van Gerwen 11-7 Jonny Clayton
Michael van Gerwen 11-7 Fallon Sherrock