Dimitri Van den Bergh defends pace of play after crowd boos at UK Open: ‘I am trying to provide for my family’

Dimitri Van den Bergh says his slower pace is for himself rather than trying to affect his opponent after he received criticism during the UK Open final

 

UK Open champion Dimitri Van den Bergh defended his pace of play after earning boos from the crowd during his gripping 11-10 win over Luke Humphries in Sunday’s final at Minehead.

 

The Belgian took a long time to compose himself at the drinks table at 10-8 up as he prepared to throw for the match, much to the irritation of the fans at Butlin’s.

 

Although Van den Bergh lost the next two legs, he eventually triumphed in a decider, securing his second major title after the 2020 World Matchplay in Blackpool.

 

“It’s never about trying to take someone else out of their rhythm or their game. I am fully focused on myself. If I want to be at my best, I need to do what’s best for me, not my opponent.

 

“I needed a few extra minutes to calm myself down as I knew what the situation was and I didn’t want to mess it up. Not everyone will love me, not everyone will like me. I just have to accept that.

 

“You have lovers and haters but it’s all about yourself, especially in a one-man game. You have to prioritise yourself. I am a major champion again and that’s what matters the most.”

 

On winning the open-draw UK Open, dubbed the FA Cup of darts, Van den Bergh added: “I won one of the toughest majors to win. You can have a lucky draw or a very tough draw.

 

“You are not prepared like other majors when you know when you are playing and your opponent. This is a massive confidence boost and I am not a one-tournament wonder anymore.”

 

Van den Bergh’s UK Open triumph followed a semi-final appearance at the Cazoo Darts Masters in February and the 29-year-old credits working with a sports psychologist for his fine form.

 

“All the hard work, all the structure I am giving myself because of the tips and advice from my sports psychologist [is helping],” added Van den Bergh. “He is doing a really good job with me.

 

Speaking on Love The Darts, Van den Bergh spoke about the impact a sports psychologist has had on his career

 

“It didn’t think it was necessary, it’s just the new era. I know a few other players have worked with psychologists and seen results. I thought, ‘maybe I need to put my pride to the side’.

 

“If it doesn’t work at least I know I tried but it’s kind of working. It’s a weekly thing if it fits in with the agenda. He is there if I need a chat.

 

“He saw my reactions to certain moments and what can get you out of your comfort zone and what can happen to you.

 

“A break of throw against me could rattle me, missing three darts at a double and then your opponent dominating could make me nervous. The psychologist gave me structure and next steps.

 

“I was not expecting to be a winner in this tournament. I still get the goosebumps thinking, ‘how have I accomplished this?’ I am so proud of myself. It is indescribable how I feel.”

 

Now the Belgian is targeting the 2025 Premier League, adding: “After a major semi-final and a major win I think I have put my name in the hat but the year has only just started.

 

“I will keep my feet on the ground but maybe next year I will be back in the Premier League.”

 

Humphries will play Gerwyn Price in the quarter-finals in Brighton, with Luke Littler tackling Night Five champion Nathan Aspinall, Michael van Gerwen taking on Rob Cross, and Michael Smith battling the winless Peter Wright.

 

 

Gideon Canice

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