COMEBACK KID ANDERSON CLAIMS DUBAI DUTY FREE DARTS MASTERS TITLE
GARY ANDERSON ended Michael van Gerwen's three-year reign as the Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters champion with a stunning comeback from 8-4 down to win Friday's World Series of Darts final 11-9.
Reigning champion van Gerwen had looked on course to claim an amazing fourth successive title in the unique open-air tournament at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium when he pulled clear of the World Champion.
The Dutchman opened the final with a 12-darter and defied finishes of 11 and 12 darts and a 115 checkout from the Scot to move 7-4 up before punishing eight missed doubles from the World Champion to take a four-leg lead.
Anderson, though, fired back to level the game with the aid of back-to-back 12-darters and finishes of 68 and 76 in a run of four straight legs to level at eight-all.
The next two were shared to leave the scores tied at nine legs apiece before Anderson punished one miss from van Gerwen to land double 12 and lead for the first time, and a further six misses from the reigning champion proved costly in the next as double five sealed glory for the Scot.
"This is a brilliant win," said Anderson, who changed his darts from 23 grams to 25 grams ahead of the event to combat any air movement. "It was hard but I could see Michael tiring at the end - he took his foot off the gas a little and missed a couple of doubles.
"I like playing Michael - he plays my kind of game and players like Michael always make the game look good. I came back and it was a bit nip-and-tuck.
"This is my second time here and it's a fantastic place, and it sets me up for the rest of the World Series. Last year I came here and I didn't know what to expect, and I learned a lot - I came here with a heavier set of darts this time and they went a lot better."
Anderson had defeated Taylor 11-7 in their semi-final as he won through to his first decider on the World Series of Darts circuit.
The pair shared the opening 12 legs before the World Champion broke for the first time in the match to move 7-6 up in a run of five successive legs which helped to establish a 10-6 advantage on his way to victory with six 180s and a 55 percent checkout ratio.
Van Gerwen had been in brilliant form during his semi-final win over Dave Chisnall, hitting five ton-plus checkouts - including a crowd-pleasing 132 finish of two bullseyes and double 16 - a ten-dart finish and seven 180s as he averaged over 105.
Chisnall had played his part in a fine contest, taking out a brilliant 140 finish and hitting four 180s, only to see van Gerwen's combination finishing prove too strong - but it would be missed doubles which cost the Dutchman in the decider.
"I'm a bit disappointed in myself," said van Gerwen. "It was close but I've only got myself to blame and Gary was the better player tonight.
"I missed too many doubles and I'm gutted - I feel like I gave the game away. I missed four darts to go 9-6 in front and that was a bit of a killer for me.
"If you miss that many doubles you can't win, and Gary put me under pressure at the right times. Fair play to him - you can't miss against people like Gary Anderson and Phil Taylor."
Taylor had won through to the final a year ago, but lost out in the semis this time around as Anderson's late surge saw him avenge his loss at the same stage in the Betway Premier League a week ago.
"Gary played really well, he finished well and that's what won him the game," said Taylor. "I had my chances and I didn't take them, but I've enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to getting back here next year because I love it over here.
"It's the hardest stage we play on, it's outside and it's red hot, but if you can play here you can play anywhere."
Chisnall also won through to the semi-finals on his return to the World Series of Darts circuit, having reached the same stage in his previous visit to Dubai in 2014.
The next PDC World Series of Darts event will be the Auckland Darts Masters from June 17-19 at the Trusts Arena. For tickets, visit www.eventfinda.co.nz.
2016 Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters
Friday May 27
Michael van Gerwen 11-7 Dave Chisnall
Gary Anderson 11-7 Phil Taylor
Best of 21 legs
Gary Anderson 11-9 Michael van Gerwen
Best of 21 legs
Michael van Gerwen v Dave Chisnall
1-0 - The world number one takes out 86 on the bull for the opening leg.
1-1 - van Gerwen misses double seven to finish 122, and Chisnall - who lands a 180 - takes out 84 on double 12 to level.
2-1 - Chisnall kicks off with a second maximum, but van Gerwen finishes 60 on tops to move back ahead as a third successive leg goes against the throw.
3-1 - Chisnall leaves 32 as he looks to level, but van Gerwen takes out 108 on tops to move two legs clear.
3-2 - Double 18 sees Chisnall hit back to reduce the gap.
4-2 - van Gerwen takes out 102 on double 18 to regain his cushion.
4-3 - van Gerwen opens with 180 and 140, but three missed doubles allow Chisnall in to hit back on double two.
5-3 - van Gerwen kicks off with 180 and 139 before taking out 117 for a third ton-plus checkout of the contest and a 12-darter.
5-4 - Chisnall finishes a brilliant 140 with two treble 18s and double 16.
6-4 - van Gerwen misses the bull to finish 170, but returns to pin double 16 as he edges two legs clear again.
6-5 - Chisnall finishes 50 on tops to cut the gap to one leg.
7-5 - van Gerwen takes out another 12-darter, with a 171 score setting up 132 before he finishes the combination with two bullseyes and double 16.
8-5 - The reigning champion breaks throw with double ten to finish 85 as he moves three legs clear for the first time.
8-6 - Chisnall lands a 180 before punishing van Gerwen's miss at the bull to finish 87, by landing double eight to break back.
9-6 - van Gerwen regains his cushion, landing a 180 before finishing 88 in two darts.
10-6 - van Gerwen sets up a possible nine-darter by opening with two 180s - but he misses out on the perfect leg, and the prize of a Mercedes-Benz GLC 250 SUV when he is unable to take out the 141, but he returns to pin double 18 for a ten-darter to move a leg away from victory.
10-7 - Both players land 180s before Chisnall hits double 16 to keep his hopes alive.
11-7 - van Gerwen seals the win in style with his fifth ton-plus checkout as he finishes 106 on tops to secure a spot in the final.
Gary Anderson v Phil Taylor
0-1 - Taylor finishes 90 on double 15 to win the opener.
1-1 - Anderson lands a 180 and double ten to level, after Taylor misses two darts at double 18.
1-2 - Anderson posts his second maximum, but Taylor finishes 78 on double 12 to move back ahead.
2-2 - Double 17 ses the World Champion level once more.
2-3 - Taylor lands double nine to edge back ahead.
3-3 - Anderson levels courtesy of double top.
3-4 - Taylor regains the edge with double 16.
4-4 - Taylor hits a 180, but misses double 16 for a 102 finish to break as Anderson steps in on tops to square the game.
4-5 - Anderson lands a 174 score, but Taylor finishes 68 on double four in two darts to sneak leg nine.
5-5 - Anderson takes out 64 as he levels the match.
5-6 - Taylor opens with a 180 before finishing 85 on tops.
6-6 - The cat-and-mouse game continues as Anderson finishes tops for a 14-darter as he hits back again - neither player has yet been able to break.
7-6 - Anderson hits tops to claim the first break of throw, punishing Taylor for two misses a double six to move ahead for the first time.
8-6 - Anderson hits his third 180 of the game before double 17 moves him two legs clear.
9-6 - Anderson wins his fourth successive leg with a second break of throw, hitting a fourth maximum before taking out 60 on double ten.
10-6 - A fifth 180 from Anderson is followed with double four as he moves a leg away from victory.
10-7 - The pair trade maximums before Taylor finishes 48 for an 11-dart finish which keeps his hopes alive as he wins his first leg in six.
11-7 - Taylor misses tops for a 117 finish, and Anderson seals his spot in a first World Series of Darts final with tops to complete a fine display.
Michael van Gerwen v Gary Anderson
1-0 - van Gerwen lands a 180 with his second visit before finishing 81 for a 12-darter to win the opening leg.
2-0 - The reigning champion lands another maximum before taking out 62 to break throw.
2-1 - Anderson breaks back by finishing 86 on double 16.
3-1 - Double 18 gives van Gerwen his third leg of the final.
3-2 - Anderson lands a 180 and tops to respond with a superb 11-dart leg.
4-2 - van Gerwen fires in a 177 score before taking out double 16 to move two legs clear once more.
5-2 - Double top sees van Gerwen open up a three-leg cushion.
5-3 - Anderson hits a 174 score before taking out a fine 115 checkout on double 19.
6-3 - Anderson misses the bull to finish 121, and van Gerwen averts a possible break of throw on double 18.
6-4 - Anderson's second maximum of the game is followed by two from van Gerwen, who can only watch on as the Scot takes out 79 on tops for a 12-darter to hit back again.
7-4 - van Gerwen fires in his fifth airport before finishing tops to regain a three-leg lead.
8-4 - Anderson misses eight darts at doubles, and van Gerwen returns to land double ten as he breaks throw to move three legs away from claiming the title.
8-5 - Anderson opens with a 171 score before taking out 130 on the bull to make a fine response to his misses of the previous leg.
8-6 - The Scot fires in another 180 before taking out 97 on double 12 for back-to-back 12-dart legs as he halves his deficit.
8-7 - van Gerwen misses four darts at double 18 and nine, and Anderson steps in to finish 68 to win his third successive leg as he cuts the gap to one.
8-8 - van Gerwen fires in a 177 but Anderson takes out 76 on double eight to level with a fourth straight leg.
9-8 - van Gerwen hits a sixth 180 before landing double four to win his first leg in five and regain the lead.
9-9 - Anderson defies a 174 score from van Gerwen by landing double ten to level the game once more.
9-10 - Anderson hits his fourth 180 before punishing van Gerwen for a missed double 16 by returning to hit double 12 to lead for the first time - putting himself a leg away from his first World Series of Darts title.
9-11 - van Gerwen misses six darts at doubles across three visits to force a deciding leg, and Anderson eventually claims victory with double five - ending his rival's unbeaten reign in Dubai.