PEERLESS PRICE RETAINS INTERNATIONAL DARTS OPEN CROWN IN RIESA
Gerwyn Price secured his second consecutive PDC European Tour title on Sunday, defeating Michael van Gerwen 8-4 in a thrilling final to retain his Interwetten International Darts Open crown in Riesa.
Price celebrated his first ranking title of 2023 at the European Darts Open seven days ago, and he maintained his magnificent form to triumph on a landmark weekend at the Sachsenarena.
The Welshman produced four ton-topping averages to scoop the 30,000 pound top prize in the 100th PDC European Tour event, sealed with his fourth consecutive victory against Van Gerwen.
Price began Sunday's proceedings with a thrilling last-leg win against Belgium's Mike De Decker, averaging over 106 to prevail in a contest which featured 13 maximums.
The 38-year-old continued his charge with a battling victory over third seed Rob Cross, before averaging almost 107 to dispatch Dirk van Duijvenbode in the semi-finals, in a repeat of last weekend's decider.
This set up a showdown against top seed Van Gerwen in Sunday's showpiece, which remarkably was their first meeting in a European Tour final.
Price drew first blood in sensational style, converting a tops-tops 134 finish to break throw, and he established a 4-1 cushion after punishing a host of missed doubles from a profligate Van Gerwen.
The reigning champion extended his lead to 6-1 after following up a clinical 76 combination with a 12-dart break, although Van Gerwen responded with back-to-back legs to preserve his slender hopes.
However, the Dutchman was unable to make further inroads, as Price produced a brace of 14-dart holds to triumph with a 105.6 average and clinch his eighth European Tour title.
"I think I am half-German now!" joked Price, who has won four of the last five editions of the International Darts Open.
"I've been getting great support over the last couple of months and it is showing on the board. I know I'm playing well and I'm putting players under pressure.
"Michael wasn't at his best today. He missed a couple of doubles and those crucial doubles have got to go in if you want to win tournaments.
"Thankfully I've been scoring well and those crucial doubles have been going in, because on another day it could have been a different story.
"I am sure it was a great game for the crowd. Michael is a great player and he will come back, so I'm happy to win this one."
Van Gerwen was bidding to win a record-extending 36th European Tour title - his first at this event - although he was unable to recover from his subdued start against an imperious Price.
The Dutch superstar dropped just five legs in his three victories on Sunday, following up a 6-1 success against Jose de Sousa with a whitewash win over his Premier League rival Peter Wright.
Van Gerwen then defied a spirited rally from home favourite Martin Schindler to reach his first European Tour final of 2023, closing out a 7-4 success having earlier led 4-0.
Reflecting on his defeat to 2021 World Champion Price, Van Gerwen admitted: "Gezzy is in good form and when he's in this form he is going to punish you.
"That's part of the game and you have to learn from that. It is nice to make the final but for me it's not enough, it's as simple as that.
"The crowd are always phenomenal but you want to perform well for yourself and for the fans watching, but today wasn't my day.
"When you make too many mistakes against a player of Gerwyn's calibre, you are going to regret it, and that is what happened tonight."
This weekend's action also saw Schindler continue his impressive progress in the sport by reaching his first European Tour semi-final on home soil.
The diminutive German followed up his opening round win over Dutch icon Raymond van Barneveld by dumping out Premier League duo Nathan Aspinall and Jonny Clayton to reach the last four.
Van Duijvenbode also bowed out at the semi-final stage, defeating his compatriot Danny Noppert and Australia's number one Damon Heta before succumbing to Price for the second straight event.
The PDC European Tour continues from April 8-10 with the Interwetten German Darts Grand Prix in Munich, which will see 48 players competing in the year's fourth 175,000 pound tournament.