Mikuru Suzuki impressed on debut at the 2019 Grand Slam of Darts in Wolverhampton on Saturday evening as the Japanese BDO ladies World Champion pushed reigning Grand Slam Champion Gerwyn Price all the way, despite losing out 5-3.
Suzuki, who picked up the BDO World Championship crown back in January on debut, broke the average record in a World Championship final and her reputation as a top player added a degree of expectancy ahead of the Grand Slam.
The Japanese ace didn’t disappoint in the early stages as Suzuki put it to the Welsh no.1 early doors, creating problems for the Iceman. The BDO ladies champ piled the pressure on Price early doors, sharing the first six legs, and Suzuki responded defiantly to a 142 checkout from the reigning champion with an impressive 116 checkout of her own before Price held his nerve to close out a slender 5-3 victory.
Price, who’s come under criticism since last year’s final with Gary Anderson in regards to his conduct on-stage, but throughout the course of the contest, Price displayed an amicable level of professionalism throughout. And the Welsh no.1 was full of praise for Mikuru Suzuki.
“It was difficult and I didn’t perform as well as I can but I’m glad to win and that’s the main thing,” said Price. “I missed a couple of opportunities but there’s more pressure playing against a woman.
“She’s a great player and she had a couple of good shots at the right time that kept her in the game. I knew I was going to be in for a tough game but I knew that if I concentrated and hit my doubles that I could win.”
In more post-match reaction, Price told Live Darts: “That was difficult. I was quite happy when I saw the draw and I like the challenge of playing different people, especially women, but that up there was really difficult. I didn’t perform really well, I should’ve taken a lot more opportunities and I didn’t score as well as I can, but she hit one or two good shots at the right time which kept her in the game, but on another day it’s a different result.”
In terms of the professionalism shown by the Welsh no.1, Price admitted that the lack of emotion during the win wasn’t for Suzuki’s benefit.
“It wasn’t because of her [Suzuki]” admitted Price. “I’m going to approach myself differently to the game. I’m doing well on the pro-tour’s and although it’s different to playing on the TV, if I can try and transfer my pro-tour game onto the TV and bring that into play, then I’ll be a little bit better, so I’m not changing for anybody else – I just want to improve my own game, not just because it was her, but whoever I play.
“I’m just going to play my own game and play the board. If I take out a big shot on-stage at a crucial moment and I need to let a bit of energy out then I’m going to, but I’m going to approach the game a little bit better for myself.“
Suzuki takes to the stage again on Sunday evening to take on the back-to-back World Youth Champion Dimitri van den Bergh, who lost out to Robert Thornton 5-4 on Saturday evening in Wolverhampton.