Michael van Gerwen wins Austrian Darts Open
MICHAEL VAN GERWEN won his third European Tour title of 2017 with a brilliant 6-5 defeat of Michael Smith in Sunday's Austrian Darts Open final at the Multiversum in Schwechat.
World Champion Van Gerwen has previously taken victories in Jena and Hamburg this year, and was victorious once again as he claimed the 25,000 pound title in dramatic fashion against Smith.
Former World Youth Champion Smith was bidding to follow up last month's Gibraltar Darts Trophy triumph with his second win of the year, and led Van Gerwen during a thrilling final.
The St Helens ace opened up a 2-0 lead, punishing his rival's miss at tops in the opening leg before breaking with a 13-darter which featured a 180.
Van Gerwen hit back to level, but Smith took out 86 on the bull to lead 3-2 and then brought the Austrian crowd to its feet with a magnificent 170 checkout for a 4-3 advantage.
Van Gerwen, though, hit back once more as a 14-darter squared the game before finishing double 18 for a 13-darter to break after Smith missed top for a 117 checkout.
Smith took out 70 in leg ten to force a decider, but Van Gerwen was first to a finish and took out 100 on tops for a 12-darter as he secured his 17th career European Tour win.
"This means a lot to me," said Van Gerwen, who had warmed up for the event with a visit to Rapid Vienna football club on Friday. "I came here to win and I'm glad I could do that, but I played well, especially today.
"Michael is getting back in form, he is a fantastic player and he kept me under pressure. The 170 finish was great and he put me under a lot of pressure, but I was really glad to win."
Van Gerwen followed up Saturday's second round win over Austrian Christian Kallinger by seeing off debutant Dutchman Vincent van der Meer, Germany's Martin Schindler and Spain's Cristo Reyes on his way to the final.
His semi-final win over Reyes saw the world number one record an unstoppable 115.57 average as he stormed through to take on Smith.
Four-time European Tour winner Smith had missed double 12 for a nine-dart finish during his quarter-final win over Mervyn King during another memorable day for the 26-year-old.
Having defeated Chris Quantock in round two on Saturday, he also saw off Jelle Klaasen in the third round on Sunday afternoon and was a 6-4 semi-final winner against Joe Cullen.
After being denied by Van Gerwen, Smith admitted: "I tried so much to keep him under pressure. Michael's number one for a reason and he deserves it."
Cullen's run saw him reach a first European Tour semi-final since March 2016, as he averaged an outstanding 107 in his 6-3 third round win over Kim Huybrechts before sealing a 6-4 quarter-final defeat of Kim Viljanen with a 160 checkout.
Reyes had performed superbly on Sunday to reach his second successive European Tour semi-final, edging out Simon Whitlock in a deciding leg in the third round before averaging 100 in a 6-3 quarter-final defeat of Daryl Gurney.
He shared the opening two legs of his semi-final with Van Gerwen, but was unable to stop the World Champion pulling away to victory.
Finland's Kim Viljanen won through to his first quarter-final on the European Tour as he followed up his victories over Krzysztof Ratajski and number two seed Peter Wright with a 6-2 third round defeat of youngster Chris Dobey.
Emerging German youngster Schindler was also appearing in a European Tour quarter-final for the first time following his 6-4 third round win over Jamie Bain, although Van Gerwen ended the 20-year-old's hopes in the last eight.
Austria's Mensur Suljovic was joined by fellow former European Tour winners Kim Huybrechts and Simon Whitlock, Dutch trio Jelle Klaasen, Benito van de Pas and Vincent van der Meer, emerging Chris Dobey and Scotland's Jamie Bain in losing out in the third round.