Saturday, January 23, 2021

Aspinall in ‘dreamland’ as he wins the UK Open

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Tom Beresford
Sports journalist. Non-League football reporter. YouTuber, presenter, podcast host. Previously heard on FiveLive and Love Sport Radio. Managed by Epic Sports Management
Nathan Aspinall (pictured) confirms a ‘dream’ win as he’s crowned the 2019 Ladbrokes UK Open champion following an 11-5 victory over World no.2 Rob Cross (Photo: Lawrence Lustig / PDC)

Stockport’s Nathan Aspinall stunned the darting world on Sunday evening as he lifted the 2019 Ladbrokes UK Open title. The 27-year old reached the Semi-Finals of the World Championship in December at Alexandra Palace, winning £100,000 in the process. And to follow that superb run to go on and win one of the toughest majors to win – the UK Open, the Stockport ace really has the World at his feet right now.

The victory sees Aspinall move up to no.16 in the PDC order of merit, to put things into perspective, Aspinall was ranked in 74th position prior to the World Championship in mid-December, and what a turn-around for Aspinall in such a short space of time as he’s trousered £200,000 in two PDC major tournaments consecutively.

Aspinall also etches his name into the history books for several reasons, the first being that he’s just the third player in history to win a major title with a 170 checkout, and Aspinall becomes the eighth player in history to win a televised major title ranked outside the top 16 joining the likes of Scott Waites, Paul Nicholson, Robert Thornton, Kyle Anderson, Michael van Gerwen, Kevin Painter and Rob Cross. [Burton DeWitt]

In terms of clinching the Ladbrokes UK Open title, Aspinall came through some really tough examinations over the course of the weekend, before I go into depth about the final, let’s just take a look at Aspinall’s path to the final in what is arguably one of the toughest tournaments to win due to the fact that there are so many matches to get through, and with 159 players all trying to acheive the same goal.

Aspinall entered the tournament in round three, as he faced Spain’s Toni Alcinas, Aspinall averaged 97.4 in a comprehensive 6-3 win. ‘The Asp’ then went on to face Christian Kist in the fourth round where the format moved up to the best of 19 legs. Aspinall was really put through the mill, but the Stockport ace showed superb composure to produce a fantastic 12-dart leg to take the match 10-9.

In the last 32, Aspinall took on Madars Razma over on stage two, which as most of you may know, produces a completely unique type of atmosphere. Aspinall was very impressive in recording a 10-2 victory over the Latvian as he moved into the last 16 on Saturday evening. In the last 16, Aspinall came up against a fierce competitor in Ireland’s Steve Lennon, it was a remarkable fightback from ‘The Asp’ as he came back from 7-3 behind to reel off seven of the last eight legs to edge out Lennon in a 10-8 success.

In the Quarter-Finals over on the main stage, Aspinall took on Ross Smith in the final last eight clash of the afternoon. And, it was another impressive performance from Aspinall as he stamped his authority right from the get-go as he raced into a 3-0 lead early on with finishes of 98, 90 and 121 which left Smith chasing the game early on. It was a convincing 10-6 victory in the end for ‘The Asp’ as he moved into his second major Semi-Final in a matter of months.

In the last four, Aspinall faced one of the tournament favourites Gerwyn Price who was really producing his best stuff over the entirety of the weekend. But, much like his match with Ross Smith in the previous round, Aspinall raced into a healthy lead as he opened up a 6-1 deficit which left Price hanging on to the coat-tails of Aspinall. As Price piled the pressure on Aspinall in the latter stages of the match, ‘The Asp’ managed to get the job done with a 16-dart leg as he celebrated emotionally, in defeat, Gerwyn Price conducted himslef admirably as he congratulated Aspinall on reaching the final.

In the final, Aspinall was yet again the underdog as he faced the World no.2 Rob Cross who earlier on in the day enjoyed victories over Josh Payne and Michael Smith to set up the final. And as we saw in Nathan’s previous victories, he’s very much a front runner, and the start to the final was no different as he moved into a 5-2 lead early on, and Aspinall showed no signs off taking his foot off the gas. And with ‘The Asp’ running into a 10-5 lead, Rob Cross could see that the end was near, and Aspinall thrilled the packed Minehead crowd with a spectacular 170 checkout to win his first PDC major televised title.

The atmosphere was electric, and Nathan Aspinall couldn’t quite believe what he’d just acheived. Nathan’s Grandfather was the centre of the celebrations post-match as the newly-crowned UK Open champion ran straight over to his Grandad to give him a celebratory cuddle. Over the entirety of the tournament, Aspinall recorded a three-dart average of 93.67 in what will live long in the memory of the Stockport star.

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