Van Gerwen hails fighting spirit following Den Bosch triumph

Michael van Gerwen (Kelly Deckers/PDC)

An emotional Michael van Gerwen hailed his fighting spirit after celebrating TOTO Dutch Darts Masters success on home soil in Den Bosch last night.

Van Gerwen defeated teenage sensation Luke Littler in a thrilling final at De Maaspoort on Saturday evening, defying a 106.71 average from the 17-year-old to secure a thrilling 8-6 victory.

The three-time World Champion produced a near flawless display on the outer ring in Saturday’s showpiece, converting eight of his 12 attempts at double to win his 16th World Series of Darts event.

“Winning games like this always gives me a lot of joy,” reflected Van Gerwen, a runner-up to Littler in last weekend’s Bahrain Darts Masters.

“I’m really pleased with the way I played. I think I produced the right things at the right moments, and I was sharp.

“Last year I had too many finals where I didn’t turn up, but this time I was there, and I didn’t make any mistakes.

“Luke is a fantastic talent. He played a phenomenal game, he created a lot of chances and his scoring power was immense, but my finishing at big moments was key.

“What a tournament we had. I think it was probably the strongest World Series of Darts field we’ve ever had, and the way I won this title was incredible.”

Van Gerwen opened his challenge with a routine win over Vincent van der Voort in Friday’s first round, which he followed with wins over fellow countrymen Raymond van Barneveld and Gian van Veen on Finals Day.

The 34-year-old produced a remarkable fightback to stun Van Barneveld in the quarter-finals, following up a 144 skin-saver with a 124 on the bull in a last-leg decider to triumph from 5-2 adrift.

“I had to dig really deep, especially against Raymond,” conceded Van Gerwen, who survived two match darts against the five-time World Champion, despite averaging 101.

“I gave him a big lead and I shouldn’t have done that, but Raymond produced some good scoring and great finishing.

“Of course you will have some struggles, but that is sport. You have to face it, you have to battle it, and you have to keep fighting.

“The only answer is to play well and keep putting him under pressure, and that’s what I did.”

The second staging of the Dutch Darts Masters saw the trophy named in honour of Van Gerwen’s close friend Toon Greebe, who passed away last year.

Greebe – a two-time World Championship qualifier – competed alongside Van Gerwen in the Dutch youth system and on the PDC circuit, which added to the emotion for the world number two.

“To win this trophy gives it an extra dimension,” admitted Van Gerwen, who will now begin his bid for a record-extending eighth Premier League title on Night One in Cardiff on Thursday.

“I want to win every title I am competing for, and that is how I approach every tournament.

“Me and Toon had some great times when we were playing youth darts together, so lifting this trophy in front of my home crowd feels amazing.”