Darts results: Dimitri Van den Bergh survives last-leg decider to beat Luke Humphries in the UK Open final

Dimitri Van den Bergh withstood a tremendous comeback from Luke Humphries to win the Ladbrokes UK Open title in a last-leg decider.

 

The Belgian began his fourth major final as underdog but stormed into a 7-2 lead against the world champion, who was bidding for his fifth big title in six months.

 

Humphries courageously clawed his way back to 8-8 and then had the crowd on his side as Van den Bergh’s questionable delaying tactics after winning the 18th leg to move 10-8 ahead prompted boos from the crowd.

 

The former World Matchplay champion then proceeded to miss six match darts over the next two legs as Humphries forced a decider but it was then Cool Hand’s turn to spurn a pair of darts at a decisive double before Van den Bergh finally clinched victory.

 

“Luke showed again why he is a World Champion,” reflected an emotional Van den Bergh, who moves up to world number seven following his success at Butlin’s Minehead Resort.

 

“I lost my composure. I knew Luke wasn’t going to make it easy, but you have to dig deep, and all of a sudden it turned around.

 

“My Grandad passed away two years ago, and that’s my first major win since then, so it’s a really special moment for me.”

 

Van den Bergh endured a disappointing 2023 campaign which culminated in a second round defeat at the World Championship, and he believes sports psychology has played a crucial role in his return to winning ways.

 

“I’ve always been a bit uncertain when it comes to sports psychology,” admitted the Antwerp ace.

 

 

“I thought it was probably my last choice if I wanted to get stronger, but I thought let’s give it a go, and right here right now, I really feel that I made the right choice.”

 

The Belgian number one opened his campaign with victory over Brendan Dolan on Friday, before overcoming 2007 runner-up Vincent van der Voort and Welsh star Jonny Clayton to reach the last eight.

 

Van den Bergh then saw off Martin Lukeman and Damon Heta on Finals Day, winning nine of the last 11 legs to set up a showdown against Humphries.

 

The Belgian raced into a 4-1 lead with a 103 average at the first interval, with a clinical 124 finish on the bull in leg two helping him to establish early daylight.

 

The 29-year-old stretched his advantage to 7-2 after maintaining his ruthlessness on the outer ring, although Humphries responded with back-to-back legs to threaten a fightback.

 

Van den Bergh restored his four-leg buffer with a brilliant 130 checkout in leg 12, defying six perfect darts from the world number one to move 8-4 ahead.

 

Humphries looked to be staring down the barrel, but he came back off the canvas with a run of four straight legs to level proceedings, aided by a clutch 116 combination in leg 15.

 

The pendulum swung once more as Van den Bergh converted clinical 97 and 76 finishes to move to the cusp of victory at 10-8, although the drama didn’t end there.

 

The Belgian frittered away six match darts across the next two legs as Humphries profited to force a 21st and deciding leg, before carving out two championship darts of his own.

 

However, the World Champion was unable to complete the fightback, and Van den Bergh capitalised, producing a nerveless two-dart 64 combination to secure his fourth PDC ranking title.

 

Humphries, meanwhile, fell agonisingly short in his bid for a maiden UK Open success, which brought an end to his remarkable 24-match winning run in televised ranking events.

 

The 2021 runner-up conceded just 18 legs in advancing to Sunday’s showpiece, producing a trio of ton-topping averages in the process.

 

The world number one defied ten 180s from Dirk van Duijvenbode to triumph in a high-quality fourth round tie, and he continued his progress with emphatic wins over Benjamin Drue Reus and Mervyn King on Saturday.

 

Humphries then stormed past Stephen Bunting and Ricky Evans on Finals Day, averaging 102 to demolish Masters champion Bunting, before sweeping aside Evans 11-2 in the semi-finals.

 

“I didn’t play well in the final, but I gave everything,” reflected the Newbury ace, who walked away with the £50,000 runner-up prize.

 

“I was very fortunate to get two match darts at the end there, and obviously I am gutted, but Dimitri played a good game and hit a couple of big shots at the right time.

 

“The crowd were amazing towards me, so I owed it to them to give it everything, and I’m really proud of the way I played again this weekend.”

 

Earlier in the day, Heta prevailed in one of the greatest matches ever seen on the UK Open stage, celebrating a memorable 10-8 success against teenage sensation Luke Littler.

 

An astonishing start to proceedings saw Heta trailing 4-3 with a 122 average, but the Australian’s relentless brilliance eventually powered him through to a maiden televised ranking semi-final.

 

Evans also broke new ground in Minehead, claiming the scalp of 2018 World Champion Rob Cross in the quarter-finals to advance to his first big stage semi-final, which catapults him towards the cusp of the world’s top 40.

 

 

Gary Anderson 10-5 Chris DobeyLuke Littler 10-8 Martin SchindlerDamon Heta 10-9 Nathan AspinallBenjamin Reus 3-10 Luke HumphriesJonny Clayton 10-8 Ross SmithRob Cross 10-4 Josh RockStephen Bunting 10-9 Kevin DoetsPeter Wright 10-1 Andrew GildingRicky Evans 10-5 Mike De DeckerMichael Smith 9-10 Luke WoodhouseDave Chisnall 10-6 Mensur SuljovicVincent van der Voort 6-10 Dimitri Van den BerghGraham Usher 7-10 Gian van VeenMartin Lukeman 10-9 Danny NoppertKeane Barry 10-3 Ryan MeikleKrzysztof Ratajski 9-10 Mervyn King

 

 

 

Gideon Canice

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