Wright hails Van den Bergh as 'future of darts'

Peter Wright & Dimitri Van den Bergh (Kais Bodensieck/PDC)

Peter Wright hailed Dimitri Van den Bergh as ‘the future of darts’ after overcoming the Belgian to prevail in Sunday’s Interwetten German Darts Open final in Jena.

Wright defeated Van den Bergh 8-6 to lift his seventh European Tour title – his first since 2017 – in just his second tournament since returning from gallstones surgery last month.

The Scot sealed his first ranking title since February with a hard-fought victory over the former World Matchplay champion in a gripping final at the Sparkassen-Arena.

Wright raced out of the blocks in Sunday’s showpiece, following up 120 and 160 checkouts with a ten-darter on the bull to lead 3-2.

Van den Bergh responded by winning three straight legs to seize the initiative, but after returning the favour, Wright then followed up a 68 checkout with a 13-dart hold to prevail.

“Dimi is the future of darts, but the old guy is still doing it,” quipped Wright, who also defeated Raymond van Barneveld, Jonny Clayton, Ross Smith and Joe Cullen en route to glory.

“I feel for Dimitri. I know what it’s like going up on stage when you’re not 100% and you’re trying to perform for your fans.

“In the past couple of years I’ve not been 100% when I have been playing, and luckily enough for me, Dimi let me off, otherwise it could have been 7-7 and down to sudden-death.”

Wright was forced to miss August’s World Series of Darts treble-header due to his surgery, but he impressed on his return in Hungary last weekend, despite losing out to Jim Williams in his opener.

However, the World Champion defeated four televised title winners to scoop the £25,000 top prize in Jena – the scene of his World Cup of Darts victory alongside John Henderson 12 months ago.

“Jena is a fantastic place,” added Wright, who boasted a 100.06 tournament average to move into second place on the all-time list of European Tour title winners.

“The crowd all get behind me and inspire me to play my best darts, and we wouldn’t be anywhere without these fantastic fans.

“Last week I really fancied myself to go and win the tournament but I went out in the first round. I wasn’t good enough, but to win this title is amazing.”

Van den Bergh underwent a medical assessment after feeling unwell during the latter stages of his quarter-final win against Krzysztof Ratajski, although he rallied to dispatch Jose De Sousa in the semi-finals.

Prior to his wins over De Sousa and Ratajski, the 28-year-old also accounted for David Evans and Luke Woodhouse, before going on to feature in his second European Tour final.

The Belgian was unable to add a maiden European Tour crown to his brace of World Series of Darts titles in 2022, but he was buoyed by the character he displayed in Jena.

"I'm really proud of myself and really proud of the tournament that I played here," said Van den Bergh, who will be the headline act at the Belgian Darts Open (ET12) in Wieze from September 23-25.

"After the quarter-final I could have made the decision to pull out of the tournament, but sometimes you have to battle against yourself.

"I am so proud that I pulled through it, and that I managed to make it to the final.

"Thank you to the fans for helping me to get through this, and congratulations to Peter Wright, a deserved winner."