Sherrock keen to grow women's game following Winter Gardens glory

Sherrock lifts the inaugural Betfred Women's World Matchplay title

Fallon Sherrock insists she’s excited for the future of the women’s game following her history-making exploits in the inaugural Betfred Women’s World Matchplay on Sunday.

Sherrock defeated Aileen de Graaf 6-3 to prevail in the landmark eight-player event at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, in the first fully-televised women’s tournament staged by the PDC.

The 27-year-old also overcame Katie Sheldon and Lorraine Winstanley earlier in the event, before reeling off four consecutive legs to deny De Graaf in an entertaining final.

“I’m over the moon,” said Sherrock, who scooped £10,000 in prize money and secured a spot in November’s Cazoo Grand Slam of Darts.

“It feels amazing because it is the first major trophy that I’ve ever won in the PDC.

“I feel like I got better as the tournament went on. I became more relaxed because I didn’t know what to expect coming into the tournament.”

Sherrock claimed a convincing 5-2 victory over former women’s world number one Winstanley, although she survived a scare to overcome teenage sensation Sheldon in her opener.

The 18-year-old converted 86 and 74 finishes in consecutive legs to open up a 2-1 lead, and Sherrock reserved special praise for one of the emerging stars of the women’s game.

“Katie is fearless. She was always going to put on a good performance. Being on the big stage doesn’t affect her because she thrives on it all,” said Sherrock, who took out a 113 finish en route to a comeback win.

“She reminds me of me when I was younger. You put us on a big stage and we’re just going to take the opportunity as it comes, so Katie was a very hard game for me.”

Sherrock is one of the sport’s most recognisable names following her ground-breaking Alexandra Palace success, and she’s since shattered plenty more records.

The Milton Keynes ace reached the Nordic Darts Masters final on her World Series debut last year, before enjoying a remarkable run to the Grand Slam of Darts quarter-finals just weeks later.

However, with success comes scrutiny, and despite the difficulties it presents, Sherrock claims that silverware makes the sacrifices worthwhile.

“I cannot go and play a normal game of darts anymore,” admitted the former Lakeside runner-up.

“I used to enjoy playing darts with no pressure. Now I have got a load of pressure behind me and I have to try and perform.

“It’s hard, but I still enjoy it, and all that pressure is worth it when I look at that trophy.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been favourite to win a competition, so that in itself was quite difficult, but I feel the World Series events helped me, because you play on the biggest stages."

Sherrock’s Women’s World Matchplay success marks the start of an exciting period, which will see her feature in the World Series of Darts treble-header in Australia and New Zealand next month.

The history-maker will also make her Grand Slam return in Wolverhampton following her heroics 12 months ago, and she’s also in a strong position to seal a spot in this year’s Cazoo World Darts Championship.

The top two from the final PDC Women’s Series Order of Merit will qualify for the sport’s flagship event in the capital, and Sherrock currently boasts a £2,100 lead over Lorraine Winstanley in third.

“I’m going to try and practise harder than ever,” claimed the 27-year-old, who rose to stardom courtesy of wins over Ted Evetts and Mensur Suljovic on her Alexandra Palace debut.

“I know what opportunities I’ve opened up for myself, and I really want to do well now.

“This [event] was very important, because it showcases what we can do. Obviously there are some women that didn’t qualify, but they are still able to produce the darts that we all do.

“Hopefully if we can keep showcasing what we can do and put on a good performance, it gives us more opportunities in the future to keep pushing the game on so we get more of these tournaments.”