Gerwyn Price produced an astonishing display of finishing to defeat Peter Wright and retain his world No 1 status with a thrilling victory at the International Darts Open in Riesa.
The opening European Tour event of 2022 saw the world’s top two battling it out for the £25,000 top prize at the Sachsenarena, and the fight for the world No 1 spot provided a fascinating sub-plot.
The pair both averaged over 106 in a high-quality affair, although Price’s precision on the outer ring proved decisive. The 2021 world champion converted eight of nine attempts at double to scoop a third International Darts Open title – his sixth European Tour success.
Price’s 24th PDC title preserves his place at the summit for at least another week, but with the Welshman defending £40,000 at next week’s UK Open, Wright is provisionally poised to become the 11th player to be crowned PDC world No 1.
The pair exchanged 12-dart breaks in a blistering start to Sunday’s showpiece, with Wright firing in back-to-back maximums in leg two. The Scot then opened up a 2-1 lead with a 16-dart hold, only for Price to reply with an 11-dart leveller.
The 36-year-old regained the initiative with a classy 108 kill on tops and punished a series of misses from the world champion to establish a two-leg buffer, before the pair traded 13-dart holds.
Wright maintained his magnificent scoring to reduce the arrears in leg nine, following up a fifth 180 with his second 12-darter of proceedings, yet Price refused to relent; restoring his two-leg buffer with another assured hold.
‘Snakebite’ only required a solitary break due to boasting the advantage of throw, but after squandering three opportunities to cut the deficit to 6-5, the world No 2 literally paid the price, as ‘The Iceman’ followed up a clinical two-dart 80 kill with a superb 130 on the bull to seal the deal in style.
“I told Peter he will have to wait another week [to become world number one],” joked Price, who last suffered defeat in a European Tour event in 2020.
“There was a lot of pressure on me in that final with the world number one spot resting on it, so I’m proud of myself tonight.
“I’ve played here four times and won three of them; I thank the crowd immensely for the reception they gave me and the way they supported both players in the final.”
Price remarkably landed two nine-darters on a historic night of Premier League action in Belfast in his last competitive outing, and he extended his winning run to eight matches with his first ranking title of 2022.
The world No 1 dispatched Australia’s Damon Heta with a ton-plus average in Sunday afternoon’s last 16, before recording victories over Danny Noppert and the returning Nathan Aspinall in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively.
Having eased past host-nation qualifier Niko Springer earlier in the day, Wright edged out Michael Smith in a repeat of their World Championship showpiece to set up a semi-final showdown against Jonny Clayton, with the 51-year-old running out a 7-3 victor against ‘The Ferret’.
The two-time world champion remains on the verge of becoming world number one for the first time in his career next weekend, but he was full of praise for his counterpart Price.
“Gerwyn showed tonight why he is world number one and a former World Champion; he never gives up, he always fights,” admitted ‘Snakebite’.
“I’ve got to fight to become world number one, I know it won’t just be given to me. But I’m after him, and hopefully I can do enough over the next few weeks [to become world number one].”
Elsewhere, Michael van Gerwen’s bid for a first title of 2022 was curtailed by his compatriot Danny Noppert in the last 16, while former World Matchplay champion Dimitri Van den Bergh remarkably advanced to his very first European Tour quarter-final, before succumbing to Clayton.
In his first appearance since the World Championship, Aspinall defeated top seed Joe Cullen and posted a 102 average to demolish James Wade, but his hopes of a fairy-tale triumph were thwarted by Price, who reeled off seven successive legs from 3-0 down in their semi-final tussle.
Image Credit: Kais Bodensieck/PDC Europe
Interwetten International Darts Open
Schedule of Play
Sunday February 27
Nathan Aspinall 6-3 Joe Cullen
James Wade 6-1 Kim Huybrechts
Danny Noppert 6-4 Michael van Gerwen
Gerwyn Price 6-2 Damon Heta
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-1 Brian Raman
Jonny Clayton 6-4 Lewy Williams
Peter Wright 6-2 Niko Springer
Michael Smith 6-1 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Nathan Aspinall 6-2 James Wade
Gerwyn Price 6-4 Danny Noppert
Jonny Clayton 6-4 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Peter Wright 6-5 Michael Smith
Gerwyn Price 7-3 Nathan Aspinall
Peter Wright 7-3 Jonny Clayton
Gerwyn Price 8-4 Peter Wright