By James Smith
Stockport resident Nathan Aspinall, 27, collected the £100,000 prize-cheque after winning his first darts major at the UK Open last weekend.
Aspinall hit the ‘big fish’, a 170 check-out (the highest possible darts finish), to wrap up a convincing 11-5 victory against former World Champion Rob Cross at Butlins Minehead.
The victory not only proves that Aspinall’s 2019 World Championship semi-final run was not just a flash in the pan, but that he is definitely worthy of the world number sixteen place that he has reached after this title.
Aspinall started the final strongly, winning four legs on the spin to achieve a double-break against Cross to take a 5-2 lead.
he is definitely worthy of the world number sixteen place that he has reached after this title.
However, Cross fought back, so that when the players went into the second break, after ten legs, there was little between them. In fact, Cross looked on top, but Aspinall remained vigilant and composed, going on to win the match and prove that he has what it takes to compete on the biggest stages.
This will be put to the test yet again on 14th March in Nottingham when Aspinall will replace Gary Anderson as a one-night contender in the Premier League, and be introduced as the “current UK Open Champion.”
Not bad for a man who only won his tour card back last January, and won his first Players Championship title back in September.
Aspinall, who went into the tournament as number thirty-four in the world was cheered on by Granddad Alan throughout the weekend to record impressive victories against Gerwyn Price 11-9 (despite having been 6-1 ahead), against Steve Lennon (having been 7-3 down), and 10-6 against Ross Smith.
Rob Cross is regaining the form that helped him win the World Championship
After the fourth round which saw World Champion and world number one Michael Van Gerwen crash out, alongside second favourite and defending champion Gary Anderson, and world number three Peter Wright, Rob Cross was perhaps the favourite for the tournament.
Other contenders Dimitri Van Den Bergh, Luke Humphries, and Max Hopp were all tipped to win their first majors, but it was Aspinall whose
Even at the semi-final stage Nathan was probably the outsider.
Rob Cross is regaining the form that helped him win the World Championship, whilst an injury-hit Michael Smith still showed the natural ability that took him to two major finals in the last twelve months.
Perhaps the stand-out player of the tournament (aside from the winner) at that point was Gerwyn Price, who had scored exceptionally and finished clinically throughout the tournament after picking up two Players Championships the weekend before.
But it was Aspinall who was to deservedly knock out the Welsh man and and then win a tournament which he had been to see with his Granddad back in 2014.
Aspinall remained humble after lifting the trophy, and after Cross had heaped a great deal of praise upon him. “I want to thank my family because I’m away a lot so this is for them and I’d like to thank everyone for their support,” said Aspinall.
This may be in part to the fact that both players, clearly tired after the three-day tournament, struggled to average more than 90 over the course of the final, so it wasn’t exactly a classic. But it was clear that of all the young talents threatening to challenge the top ten, Aspinall is seemingly destined to be doing so for some time.
In fact, he has already surpassed Cullen, Clayton, Webster, White, Chsinall, and Michael Smith, all ahead of him in the rankings but none of them with a major to their name yet.
Image: aL3x92 via Pixabay