Aspinall hails 'ridiculous' Premier League standard after Rotterdam win

Nathan Aspinall (Kelly Deckers/PDC)

Nathan Aspinall continued his Rotterdam love-affair on Thursday, defeating Michael Smith to boost his hopes of Play-Off qualification in the 2024 Premier League.

Aspinall celebrated victory on his debut at Rotterdam Ahoy 12 months ago, and he repeated those heroics on his return, securing his second nightly win of the campaign to move up to third in the table.

The World Matchplay champion swept aside Peter Wright in his quarter-final tie, before recording 6-4 successes against Luke Humphries and Smith respectively to leave the Netherlands with five points to his name.

Aspinall punished a below-par display from Wright to breeze through to the semi-finals, where he fought back from 4-1 down to stun world number one Humphries, reeling off five straight legs to triumph.

The Stockport star then saw off his Play-Off rival Smith in a crucial clash, defying a sublime 170 skin-saver from the 2023 World Champion to rule in Rotterdam once more.

“Last week I was so disappointed in my performance,” reflected Aspinall, who surrendered a 4-2 lead against Michael van Gerwen in the Night 11 quarter-finals in Birmingham.

“I should not have lost that game against Michael, but Michael often finds a way to beat me!

“I felt I played really well over the weekend in Germany and I came here with confidence, and obviously I had good memories from Rotterdam last year.

“Peter struggled in that first game. It wasn’t nice to see and it wasn’t nice to play to be honest with you, but you have to capitalise on that.

“I came back from 4-1 down against Luke Humphries and played really well, and I wasn’t losing another final!

“I’ve already lost three [finals] this year, so I was really focused. I thought my 140 hitting was absolutely ridiculous in that final, and that’s what won me the game.”

Aspinall’s latest victory in Rotterdam saw him leapfrog reigning champion Michael van Gerwen in the table, with just four nights of league action remaining.

The 32-year-old is also just a point adrift of his tally from last year’s showpiece, as he aims to seal Play-Off qualification for the third time in four seasons.

“When you look at the league table, that was a massive five points tonight,” added Aspinall, a Premier League runner-up in 2020.

“We said a few weeks ago 26 points would probably be enough, but now I'm not sure, so I'm aiming for 28.

“Even if I don’t qualify for the Play-Offs, this is the most enjoyable Premier League I’ve been involved in.

“I think the standard has been ridiculous, and I think it’s testament to the eight players who are performing week-in, week-out.”