On Sunday morning, Martin Schindler saw once again that he had achieved something special. After the memorable evening before, his mentor and manager Ioannis Selachoglou had boarded the plane and traveled to Minehead in the south-west of England.
The UK Open, one of the most important tournaments in professional darts, will be held there this weekend. 158 professionals started at Butlin’s Resort, a holiday complex, on Friday afternoon. Eight remained late on Saturday evening. One of them: Schindler.
The 26-year-old is the first German in the 21-year history of the tournament to make it to the final day. He made history with his wins over reigning World Cup winner Simon Whitlock, two-time world champion Adrian Lewis and world number seven Jonny Clayton.
And any of the previous performances would probably have been enough to prevail in the quarterfinals, his first ever at a major tournament of the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC).
Against Andrew Gilding, however, Schindler experienced an unexpected drop in performance and lost significantly by 4:10. He started the first leg with his 21st 180 of the tournament and a break, but then missed three chances to make it 2-0. And if there are problems with the checkout and missing triples in scoring, there is nothing to win in darts. He gave up the fifth leg 276 points behind and went into the break 4-1. His average: 83 points, his double rate: 14 percent.
Before the match, he had a 98.23 points per shot, the third-highest tournament average of the eight quarterfinalists. Only Michael van Gerwen and Rob Cross scored better. Above all, however, it was his confidence in the doubles that brought him the greatest success of his career: 38 percent hits against Whitlock were followed by 53 percent against Lewis and 52.63 percent against Clayton.
Was it because the German was the favorite against world number 41 for the first time in this tournament, or because he played on the big stage for the first time in the event, which was played on up to eight boards?
At the score of 1:6, after a 140 and his second 180 of the match, hope arose again. In 13 darts “The Wall” shortened to 2:6. Was there anything else?
It would have taken the 116 he missed on double 18 in leg nine. And the 132 points he didn’t check on the bullseye. Instead, Gilding, the stoic, made it 8-2 at the second break. Schindler came back against the 52-year-old with his third 180 and checked despite a bouncer to make it 3:8. The decision was made at the latest when he missed six chances to make it 4:8.
While the quirky Englishman is in the semi-finals of the UK Open for the second time after 2015 (live from 8 p.m. on Sport1 and DAZN), Schindler must and will be satisfied, despite 20 percent in doubles and an average of 87.87 points return to the adopted home of Hessen.
Should Gilding not win the tournament, Schindler will be listed as 26th in the Order of Merit on Monday – he has never been this high. Thanks to a purse of £15,000, he also broke the £200,000 prize money limit for the first time, calculated over the past 24 months.
The tour continues next weekend with Players Championships five and six in Barnsley, England.
Martin Schindler (D) – Andrew Gilding (ENG) 4:10
Michael van Gerwen (ENG) – Nathan Aspinall (ENG) 10:6
Rob Cross (ENG) – Adam Gawlas (CZE)
Dimitri van den Bergh (BEL) – Richie Burnett (WAL)