Aspinall aiming to build on European Tour milestone in Brighton

Nathan Aspinall (Jonas Hunold/PDC Europe)

Nathan Aspinall is determined to use his strong showing at the Interwetten German Darts Grand Prix as a springboard for his Cazoo Premier League Play-Off push.

Aspinall enjoyed a milestone weekend in Munich, defeating Cameron Menzies, Jim Williams, Andrew Gilding and Joe Cullen to reach a maiden European Tour final at the 42nd attempt.

The Stockport star was then beaten by Michael Smith in a high-quality affair at the Zenith Kulturhalle, succumbing 8-5 in a repeat of November’s Grand Slam of Darts showpiece.

Smith capitalised on early missed doubles from Aspinall to race into a 3-0 lead, but the 31-year-old fought back, converting 108 and 112 checkouts to reduce the deficit to 6-5.

However, Smith responded by winning back-to-back legs to triumph, averaging almost 103, landing eight 180s and converting 62% of his attempts at double to clinch his sixth European Tour crown.

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s a European Tour or a TV event, it’s a final,” reflected Aspinall, who was appearing in his first ranking final since his Grand Slam exploits.

“These are big, big tournaments. I have never made a [European Tour] final and I think I felt the nerves earlier in the game, and Michael capitalised. Fair play to him.

“I don’t think either of us played very well this weekend, we just did the job that was in front of us, but I think it was a great game.

“Michael proved why he is the world number one and World Champion. He put in a fantastic performance in that final."

Aspinall began Finals Day with hard-fought victories over Williams and UK Open champion Gilding, which set up an intriguing showdown against former Masters champion Cullen.

Cullen had lost his last four matches against Aspinall, and that record was extended in Munich, as the former UK Open champion ended a run of five straight semi-final defeats on the European Tour stage.

“I think I had lost in five semi-finals. These long days are really tough,” conceded Aspinall, who pocketed the £12,000 runner-up prize on Easter Monday.

“It took me a long time to win that game after the break [in the afternoon]. I managed to learn how to do that, but then I could never win the semi-final game.

“This was a new step in my career this weekend. It was a big win against Joe [Cullen] and I think I played really well in the final, it was just [decided by] a couple of shots here and there."

Aspinall will now return to action in the Cazoo Premier League on Thursday, when he takes on world number two Peter Wright in his quarter-final tie at the Brighton Centre.

The 2020 runner-up begins the night in fifth spot, after slipping out of the top four places for the first time this season on Night Ten in Birmingham, following his quarter-final defeat to eventual winner Jonny Clayton.

This saw the Welshman leapfrog Aspinall and Smith into third spot, although Aspinall is hoping for an immediate response ahead of his showdown against Wright on the South Coast.

“I am going to take the positives from this weekend,” insisted Aspinall, who averaged over 105 to defeat Wright in their last meeting on Night Two in Cardiff.

“It was a fantastic weekend for me and we go again on Thursday night in the Premier League.

“Hopefully I can use this positivity and have a good result in Brighton on Thursday.”