Van den Bergh believes 'sky is the limit' following UK Open triumph

Dimitri Van den Bergh (Kieran Cleeves/PDC)

An emotional Dimitri Van den Bergh declared ‘the sky is the limit’ after winning his second televised ranking title in an extraordinary Ladbrokes UK Open final on Sunday.

Van den Bergh edged out World Champion Luke Humphries in Sunday’s showpiece at Butlin's Minehead Resort, surviving two match darts to prevail in a gripping last-leg shoot-out.

The former World Matchplay champion led 7-2 and 8-4 at one stage, before Humphries came roaring back to force a decider, having survived six match darts of his own across two legs.

However, Van den Bergh regained his composure in a thrilling finale to return to the winner’s circle, ending Humphries’ 24-match winning run in televised ranking events in the process.

“I’m still lost for words,” admitted the 29-year-old, who becomes the new world number seven after pocketing the £110,000 winner’s prize.

“It is incredibly special for me, especially in the way I won it. From the start I felt that everything was going my way.

“There was a moment Luke went 180, 180 and then he missed a chance at 82, and in the next shot I finished 130 and I thought: ‘It’s all happening for me, this is just my tournament.’

“In the end, I personally feel I got lucky. My opponent – a World Champion – missed match darts, and all of a sudden I went ‘bang, bang’ and I am a major champion for the second time in my career.

“How do I react to this? Disbelief is the biggest thing to say. Disbelief.”

Van den Bergh endured a testing 2023 campaign, which culminated in a second-round defeat to Florian Hempel at the World Darts Championship.

The Antwerp trailblazer revealed his underwhelming form prompted him to visit a sports psychologist earlier this year, and he hailed the instant impact it’s had on his game.

Van den Bergh defeated five PDC ranking event winners on his way to glory this weekend, overcoming Brendan Dolan, Vincent van der Voort, Jonny Clayton, Martin Lukeman, Damon Heta and Humphries to triumph in the three-day festival of darts.

“I dug deep. I gave everything I could. I am learning a lot in the last couple of months,” continued the two-time World Youth Champion.

“My sports psychologist has worked well for me so far, and I think this is the cherry on the cake, a whole lot quicker than expected!

“I think this is just the start. I feel me and my sports psychologist are still going through the basics.

“Winning this title is an amazing achievement for myself, my family and everyone who is close to me, but we’re still at the start of this journey, so the sky is the limit, right?”

Van den Bergh will return to action on home soil next weekend, as the 2024 European Tour gets underway with the Belgian Darts Open from March 8-10.

The Belgian number one will headline a star-studded 48-player field in Wieze, as he sets his sights on a maiden European Tour crown in his homeland.

“Now it’s back to basics. I’ve got to play in Belgium next weekend, and it’s not going to be easy," insisted Van den Bergh, also a winner of two World Series titles.

“It doesn’t matter who I have to play, I’ll be starting in the first round, so it’s back to the practice board.

“If you want to be the best you have to beat the best, and I’ve got to start with my next tournament.”