When he had wiped the tears from his face and collected himself a little, the joy and pride that had triggered the entry into the final of the World Grand Prix (Sunday, 8.30 p.m. live on Sport1 and DAZN) came to the fore. “I have a young family,” recalled Nathan Aspinall, sending best wishes home: “My kids and my partner, we live an amazing life. And it’s up to me to make sure it stays that way. So I put a lot of hours into it. And it’s a wonderful feeling to be here in the final. I haven’t been in the final of a TV tournament for a long time.”
It’s a surprise comeback that the Englishman is making at the Major tournament played in double in/double out mode. Although he had shown improving form in recent months after recovering from injury, he himself had not expected to play in the final in Leicester.
His opponent in the semifinals was considered the clear favourite, especially since Gerwyn Price would still be able to defend his top position in the world rankings if he won the tournament. Aspinall, however, showed from the start that he would be a force to be reckoned with tonight.
He won set one with a 113 finish before Price hit back and secured round two 3-1 thanks to a 121 checkout. The duo offered high-class sport, which was also documented by the averages: Price scored almost 92 points per shot, Aspinall with 91 hardly worse.
Then came a landmark scene in the decider of the third set, when the Welshman missed two set darts on double 16 and was penalized with a 1-3 set deficit.
When he missed four chances to make it 2-1 in round five, his throw-off set, and conceded the break, the end was in sight. But Price broke back and survived a match dart aspinalls on double 16 in the decider to erase 117 points in turn. Price actually got his head out of the noose again.
With the score at 1:1 in the sixth set, Price delivered his third high finish to the required break after 107 and 117 with 127 over the bullseye and now seemed to have managed to turn the trend around.
The fact that he missed four set darts on his next throw gave the highly exciting duel another twist. The fifth leg was needed again to bring the decision: equal set or match win for Aspinall? “The course is unbelievable,” commented Elmar Paulke on “DAZN”.
The underdog gave the answer early. Aspinall came into the decider with a perfect 160 while Price missed the double three times with his first shot. A lead that the Englishman used and checked in 13 darts to make it 4:2 after sets.
“It means so much to me. I invested so much, worked so hard and fought back,” summarized Aspinall, who qualified for the Grand Slam in November and jumped five places in the Order of Merit to eleventh place. If he were to win the tournament and the associated £120,000 in prize money on Sunday evening, he would even be seventh.
Thanks to the excellent performance, Peter Wright went into his semi-finals knowing he would replace Price as number one in the world rankings again on Monday.
A message that releases fresh energy or can also become a stumbling block and a burden. In any case, the world champion seemed surprisingly inconsistent and had to watch his opponent take the lead with a record.
Michael van Gerwen checked 167 to make it 1-0 – it was the highest finish of the entire tournament. After the Dutchman also got the break to make it 2-0, Wright changed his arrows for the first time.
However, nothing at all wanted to fit together with the new darts either. Wright gave up the first set 3-0, and when the new number one also lost the second set without a leg won, a debacle loomed.
It wasn’t until the ninth leg before the new number one hit the scoreboard. However, his check to make it 1:2 was to remain the only small success on this memorable evening. MVG won the third set 3-1 and the fourth round again to zero. The leg balance was 12:1.
Anyone wondering how this could have happened was answered in the final leg, when Wright missed nine consecutive checks on double 16, double 8, double 4 and double 2. His checkout rate dropped to 5 percent (1/20), the average to 82.03.
Van Gerwen, on the other hand, enjoyed his show of strength and flexed his biceps in front of the crowd. “I expected that after my performances over the past few days, although Peter didn’t show up here today. He didn’t look good but I have no idea what was wrong with him.” Needless to say he doesn’t expect anything but victory for Sunday’s final.
Callan Rydz (ENG) – Krzysztof Ratajski (POL) – 0: 2 (2: 3; 1: 3)
Brendan Dolan (NIL) – Stephen Bunting (ENG) 0:2 (2:3; 1:3)
Chris Dobey (ENG) – Luke Humphries (ENG) 2:0 (3:2; 3:0)
Dimitri van den Bergh (BEL) – Dave Chisnall (ENG) 2:1 (3:1; 2:3; 3:2)
Jonny Clayton (WAL/7) – Dirk van Duijvenbode (NED) 2:1 (1:3; 3:1; 3:1)
Peter Wright (SCO/2) – Kim Huybrechts (BEL) 2:0 (3:1; 3:2)
Michael van Gerwen (NED/3) – Gary Anderson (SCO) 2:0 (3:0; 3:2)
José de Sousa (ENG/6) – Adrian Lewis (ENG) 0:2 (2:3; 2:3)
Madars Razma (LAT) – Ryan Searle (ENG) 2:1 (3:1; 2:3; 3:0)
Ross Smith (ENG) – Andrew Gilding (ENG) 2:1 (0:3; 3:2; 3:1)
Danny Noppert (NED) – Gabriel Clemens (D) 2:0 (3:0; 3:2)
Joe Cullen (ENG) – Damon Heta (AUS) 2:1 (3:2; 0:3; 3:1)
Rob Cross (ENG/8) – Daryl Gurney (NIL) 1:2 (2:3; 3:1; 0:3)
James Wade (ENG/5) – Martin Lukeman (ENG) 1:2 (0:3; 3:1; 2:3)
Gerwyn Price (WAL/1) – Martin Schindler (D) 2:0 (3:1; 3:0)
Michael Smith (ENG/4) – Nathan Aspinall (ENG) 1:2 (1:3; 3:2; 0:3)
Round of 16:
Peter Wright (SCO / 2) – Krzysztof Ratajski (POL) 3: 2 (3: 2; 2: 3; 2: 3; 3: 0; 3: 0)
Jonny Clayton (WAL/7) – Dimitri van den Bergh (BEL) 2:3
Stephen Bunting (ENG) – Michael van Gerwen (ENG/3) 2:3 (3:2; 0:3; 0:3; 3:2; 1:3)
Adrian Lewis (ENG) – Chris Dobey (ENG) 2:3 (3:0; 1:3, 2:3; 3:2; 2:3)
Martin Lukeman (ENG) – Ross Smith (ENG) 3:2 (2:3; 3:2; 3:0; 2:3; 3:2)
Daryl Gurney (NIL) – Madars Razma (LAT) 1: 3 (1: 3, 0: 3, 3: 1, 2: 3)
Gerwyn Price (WAL/1) – Joe Cullen (ENG) 3:2 (3:1; 0:3; 1:3; 3:0; 3:0)
Nathan Aspinall (ENG) – Danny Noppert (NED) 3:2 (2:3; 2:3; 3:1; 3:1; 3:2)
Nathan Aspinall (ENG) – Martin Lukeman (ENG) 3:2 (3:1; 2:3; 3:0; 2:3; 3:1)
Gerwyn Price (WAL/1) – Madars Razma (LAT) 3:0 (3:1; 3:0; 3:1)
Peter Wright (SCO/2) – Dimitri van den Bergh (BEL) 3:2 (3:0; 2:3; 2:3; 3:1; 3:2)
Michael van Gerwen (ENG/3) – Chris Dobey (ENG) 3:1 (3:2; 2:3; 3:1; 3:1)
Nathan Aspinall (ENG) – Gerwyn Price (WAL/1) 4:2 (3:1; 1:3; 3:1; 3:2; 2:3; 3:2)
Peter Wright (SCO/2) – Michael van Gerwen (NED/3) 0:4 (0:3; 0:3; 1:3; 0:3)
Nathan Aspinall (ENG) – Michael van Gerwen (NED/3)