Aussie Heta defeats darts sensation Littler in UK Open Ian Chadband

Australia’s top darts player Damon Heta has enjoyed the biggest win of his burgeoning career by knocking out the sport’s new wonder boy Luke Littler to reach the semi-finals of the UK Open.

 

In one of the best matches ever seen at one of the sport’s biggest championships, Heta, the former roofer from Perth who’s soared to No.11 in the world, beat 17-year-old Littler 10-8 in a thrilling quarter-final in Minehead on Sunday.

 

The 36-year-old Heta, who’s now based his career near the English city of Leicester, won the World Cup for Australia with Simon Whitlock in 2022 but this was the individual match of his life, racking up a remarkable three-dart average of 106.04 to reach his first major televised semi-final.

 

It continued the Australian’s brilliant start to the year following a players’ championship win in Leicester last month and put an end to Littler’s hopes of lifting his first trophy in a marquee televised PDC event.

 

At one point early in the match, Heta was playing so well that his average topped an outlandish 125, but such was the overall match quality that he still couldn’t forge clear of Little, who has give the sport an unprecedented profile since he reached the world championship final in January at the age of 16.

 

Littler had looked favourite to take the title after his own tremendous start to life on the PDC tour, impressing in the Premier League while also winning a PDC players’ title and the Bahrain Masters.

 

But he couldn’t cope with an inspired showman Heta, who’d emerged on stage wearing a crazy fire hat and then lived up to his nickname of ‘The Heat’ as he forged into an 8-4 lead.

 

Heta appeared to get nervy near the finishing line, missing three potentially matchwinning darts before holding firm to eventually sink double 16 after Littler missed a chance to force a final-leg decider.

 

“Credit to myself. I was up for it, sometimes I feel like that in practice so I know what it feels like,” Heta said of his stellar form.

 

“To come out on top against Luke Littler, who has taken the media and darts by storm – I love him to bits, to be fair – these are the guys I need to beat.”

 

In the semi-finals to be played later on Sunday (Monday AEDT), Heta was drawn against his housemate and great friend, Belgian Dimitri Van den Bergh, while world champion Luke Humphries will meet fellow English player Ricky Evans.

Gideon Canice

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