Czech star Gawlas reflects on breaking new ground at Cazoo UK Open

Adam Gawlas (Kieran Cleeves/PDC)

Adam Gawlas has hailed his impressive progress in the sport, after enjoying a landmark run to last weekend’s Cazoo UK Open semi-finals at Butlin’s Minehead Resort.

Gawlas came of age in the unique multi-board event, claiming a host of major scalps to become the first Czech player to reach a PDC televised semi-final.

The 21-year-old produced his highest televised average to dispatch William O’Connor in Saturday’s last 16, before dumping out 2019 runner-up Rob Cross in the quarter-finals.

Gawlas crashed in 12 maximums to stun Cross 10-8 in a dramatic last eight tussle, having also posted a ton-plus average in his 10-3 rout of O’Connor in the previous round.

The World Cup star also accounted for Mario Vandenbogaerde, Kevin Doets and teenage sensation Luke Littler en route to the semi-finals, where he was beaten by eventual champion Andrew Gilding.

“I cannot believe it,” admitted Gawlas, who scooped £30,000 for his breakthrough campaign.

“I played against Rob at the Grand Slam of Darts last year, so I knew what to expect. This was the best win of my career.

“I was closing my eyes and trying to put the missed darts out of my mind. I was so focused.

“Saturday was the best performance of my career on the stage, so I’m really happy with what I am achieving.

“I am really enjoying myself, and every second that I spend on the big stage – I cannot describe this feeling.”

Gawlas’ run to the semi-finals has seen him break into the world’s top 50 for the first time in his career, just months after he was faced with the prospect of relinquishing his PDC Tour Card.

The Czech youngster edged out Richie Burnett at the recent Cazoo World Championship to preserve his professional status, and he’s determined to capitalise on his lifeline.

“I have started practising more,” revealed Gawlas, who burst on to the scene as a World Youth Championship finalist in 2019.

“At the beginning of this year, in the first Players Championship weekend, I didn’t average over 90, and I was thinking: ‘Will I be able to keep my Tour Card?’

“Since then, I have been practising for six hours a day and now I made the UK Open semi-finals, so maybe the practice is paying off!”

Gawlas crashed in nine 180s in the first six legs of his clash against Cross, and he credits his new darts as the catalyst for his improved scoring power.

“When I lost against Ryan Searle in the second round of the World Championship, I was like: ‘I need a change’,” added the two-time Grand Slam qualifier.

“I said to Bulls [his manufacturer] that I wanted a new set of darts, and I only got my new darts on Wednesday.

“I was hitting 180s until 1am, so I decided that I was going to use them at the UK Open. It went well! I am really happy.”