Heta insists it's time to 'push on' ahead of Cross clash at Grand Slam

Damon Heta (Kieran Cleeves/PDC)

Damon Heta insists it’s time to ‘push on’ ahead of his quarter-final tie against Rob Cross at the Mr Vegas Grand Slam of Darts in Wolverhampton tonight.

Heta moved through to his second Grand Slam quarter-final with a 10-7 victory over three-time champion Michael van Gerwen on Thursday, to ensure there will be a new name on the Eric Bristow Trophy in 2023.

The Australian number one recovered from 4-2 down to dump out the Dutch superstar, converting clinical 76, 80, 92 and 112 combination finishes to inflict Van Gerwen’s earliest Grand Slam exit in a decade.

“I’m absolutely stoked with the win,” declared Heta, who also reached the quarter-finals in July’s World Matchplay.

“I had so many trebleless visits, but my checkout percentage was great, and that is what wins you games!

“Obviously Michael didn’t turn up, but things just happened for me in that second session and I was riding the wave.

“I know I didn’t play a great game, but I can feel it coming. I’m practising so well, and I know once it starts, it’s going to happen.”

Heta has won now four of his last five meetings against Van Gerwen, and his latest win in Wolverhampton catapults him into the world’s top ten for the first time in his career.

The 36-year-old has enjoyed a meteoric rise since securing his PDC Tour Card in January 2020, and he could rise to world number seven with glory at WV Active Aldersley.

“Top ten was the goal at the start of the year,” revealed the former World Cup champion, who now has his sights set on progressing to a first premier televised ranking semi-final.

“You’ve got to beat these guys in these big tournaments at whatever stage to get into the top ten. If you don’t beat them, you’re not going to get there. 

“Over the last couple of years I have just plateaued. I’ve been really consistent on the ProTour and European Tour, but when it comes to the TV, I haven’t been so great.

“I have got a great base, but doing things like this, now I can keep pushing on, so it’s definitely a massive positive for my game.”

Heta now faces another of the sport’s big hitters for a place in the semi-finals, after Cross defeated World Matchplay champion Nathan Aspinall 10-8 in a Grand Slam classic on Thursday.

Both players averaged over 103 in a high-quality contest, but it was Cross who clinched victory, landing seven maximums and converting ten of his 20 attempts at double to cap off a terrific performance.

The 2018 World Champion has never progressed beyond the quarter-finals in Wolverhampton, but he claims he’s rediscovered his hunger for the game as he bids to break new ground in the West Midlands.

“I’m enjoying the game more than ever,” revealed Cross, who has claimed two World Series of Darts titles, a maiden European Tour crown and a Players Championship success in 2023.

“I feel great. I have had my ups and downs like every professional, but now I’m ready to compete and perform, and I want it more than ever.

“I want to win everything. If I get myself right mentally, I believe I can do great things, but everyone is dangerous, so I’ve got to perform like that against Damon.”

Saturday evening’s other quarter-final clash will see Stephen Bunting and Stowe Buntz lock horns, in a repeat of their Group E showdown last weekend.

Bunting followed up group stage wins over Dave Chisnall and Peter Wright by dumping out world number seven Danny Noppert in the last 16, to advance to his first Grand Slam quarter-final since 2014.

Buntz, meanwhile, continued his fairy-tale run with victory over UK Open champion Andrew Gilding, to become the first American to reach the last eight in Wolverhampton since the tournament’s inception in 2007.

2023 Mr Vegas Grand Slam of Darts
Saturday November 18 (1900-2300 GMT)
Quarter-Finals x2

Stowe Buntz v Stephen Bunting
Damon Heta v Rob Cross
Best of 31 legs

Sunday November 19 
Afternoon Session (1300-1700 GMT)

James Wade v Luke Humphries
Buntz/Bunting v Heta/Cross
Best of 31 legs

Evening Session (1900-2100 GMT)
Best of 31 legs