Jonny Clayton produced a spectacular display of doubling to dethrone world No 1 Gerwyn Price at the World Grand Prix, storming to a sensational 5-1 success against ‘The Iceman’ to clinch his third major title of 2021 in Leicester on Saturday evening.
Price was bidding to become just the third man in Grand Prix history to retain his title, but he was blown away by an imperious Clayton, who produced one of the performances of his career to seal the £110,000 top prize, and his first televised ranking crown.
Clayton has enjoyed a meteoric rise over the last 12 months, having lifted titles at the Masters and the Premier League earlier this year, although he came into this year’s double-start event as the world No 13, due to the fact his triumphs both came in non-ranking tournaments.
Ironically, ‘The Ferret’ attributes his emergence to his World Cup win alongside Price in November 2020, and he delivered a merciless display to stun the world champion, averaging 94.44, landing 63% of his starting doubles and converting five ton-plus finishes en route to glory.
“It’s what dreams are made of,” admitted Clayton, who now moves up to seventh on the PDC Order of Merit.
“We all play to win a big major, it’s my first ranked major and I’m over the moon, chuffed to bits. It’s been a long week, but to play the world number one and beat him is fantastic.
“I’m lost for words. To win this and play really, really well is a tick in my box and I’m going to smile for a couple of weeks!
“I came out of the blocks quicker than Gezzy. The respect I’ve got for Gerwyn is second to none, he’s a fantastic player and a fantastic guy, and the crowd tonight let us play. We both enjoyed it.
“He’s smashed me the last six or seven times so it’s nice to have one back on him. My starting was fantastic, so I think I kept my pressure onto Gezzy and that was the difference.”
Price kicked off proceedings with a majestic 160 start and drew first blood with a 14-dart break, only to lose his range on the outer ring, as Clayton reeled off three consecutive legs – including a 12-darter – to wrap up the opening set.
The Premier League champion extended his winning sequence to five legs as he established a 2-0 cushion in set two, but Price stopped the rot courtesy of a magnificent 11-darter, before forcing a crucial fifth and final leg.
However, the Pontyberem ace maintained his composure to double his cushion, before prevailing in an outrageous third set littered with quality.
Price hit the front early in set three, yet he was left shell-shocked as Clayton converted sensational 170 and 164 checkouts in consecutive legs to regain the initiative, despite ‘The Iceman’ leaving 24 after just nine darts in leg three.
The defending champion forced another set decider with a clinical 72 kill, although this only provided temporary respite when Clayton fired in a 13-darter to extend his lead to 3-0.
Clayton also opened up a 2-0 cushion in set four, but Price rallied impressively and capitalised on a missed bull from his opponent to snatch the set on tops and reduce the arrears to 3-1.
Nevertheless, ‘The Ferret’ punished a profligate start to set five from his compatriot to forge into a 2-0 lead for a second successive set, and despite squandering four set darts in leg three, he rectified matters with a nerveless 110 outshot to move a set away from the title.
Clayton moved to the cusp of victory after following up an immediate break in set six with an electrifying 152 checkout, and although Price took out 102 on tops to preserve his slender hopes, Clayton quashed any hopes of a fightback with a superb 116 finish – his fifth ton-plus checkout – to cap off an astonishing display.
“He was too strong for me today,” conceded Price, who was bidding to secure his sixth individual major title. “He didn’t miss a double early on to get off, I missed a couple but he was phenomenal.
“I did have a chance but I didn’t take them a couple of times and he was winning the big moments. He was starting off a lot better than me.
“Apart from the first game that’s the best I’ve played in the tournament and that’s a testament to Jonny.
“He was by far the better player on the night, but I’ll get him next time. I had a great final and I appreciate the crowd for letting us play.”
Image Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
2021 BoyleSports World Grand Prix
Saturday October 9
Jonny Clayton 5-1 Gerwyn Price
Set Scores: 3-1, 3-2, 3-2, 2-3, 3-1, 3-1