COMEBACK KID ANDERSON CLAIMS DUBAI DUTY FREE DARTS MASTERS TITLE
GARY ANDERSON ended Michael van Gerwen's three-year reign as the Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters champion with a stunning comeback from 8-4 down to win Friday's World Series of Darts final 11-9.
Reigning champion van Gerwen had looked on course to claim an amazing fourth successive title in the unique open-air tournament at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium when he pulled clear of the World Champion.
The Dutchman opened the final with a 12-darter and defied finishes of 11 and 12 darts and a 115 checkout from the Scot to move 7-4 up before punishing eight missed doubles from the World Champion to take a four-leg lead.
Anderson, though, fired back to level the game with the aid of back-to-back 12-darters and finishes of 68 and 76 in a run of four straight legs to level at eight-all.
The next two were shared to leave the scores tied at nine legs apiece before Anderson punished one miss from van Gerwen to land double 12 and lead for the first time, and a further six misses from the reigning champion proved costly in the next as double five sealed glory for the Scot.
"This is a brilliant win," said Anderson, who changed his darts from 23 grams to 25 grams ahead of the event to combat any air movement. "It was hard but I could see Michael tiring at the end - he took his foot off the gas a little and missed a couple of doubles.
"I like playing Michael - he plays my kind of game and players like Michael always make the game look good. I came back and it was a bit nip-and-tuck.
"This is my second time here and it's a fantastic place, and it sets me up for the rest of the World Series. Last year I came here and I didn't know what to expect, and I learned a lot - I came here with a heavier set of darts this time and they went a lot better."
Anderson had defeated Taylor 11-7 in their semi-final as he won through to his first decider on the World Series of Darts circuit.
The pair shared the opening 12 legs before the World Champion broke for the first time in the match to move 7-6 up in a run of five successive legs which helped to establish a 10-6 advantage on his way to victory with six 180s and a 55 percent checkout ratio.
Van Gerwen had been in brilliant form during his semi-final win over Dave Chisnall, hitting five ton-plus checkouts - including a crowd-pleasing 132 finish of two bullseyes and double 16 - a ten-dart finish and seven 180s as he averaged over 105.
Chisnall had played his part in a fine contest, taking out a brilliant 140 finish and hitting four 180s, only to see van Gerwen's combination finishing prove too strong - but it would be missed doubles which cost the Dutchman in the decider.
"I'm a bit disappointed in myself," said van Gerwen. "It was close but I've only got myself to blame and Gary was the better player tonight.
"I missed too many doubles and I'm gutted - I feel like I gave the game away. I missed four darts to go 9-6 in front and that was a bit of a killer for me.
"If you miss that many doubles you can't win, and Gary put me under pressure at the right times. Fair play to him - you can't miss against people like Gary Anderson and Phil Taylor."
Taylor had won through to the final a year ago, but lost out in the semis this time around as Anderson's late surge saw him avenge his loss at the same stage in the Betway Premier League a week ago.
"Gary played really well, he finished well and that's what won him the game," said Taylor. "I had my chances and I didn't take them, but I've enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to getting back here next year because I love it over here.
"It's the hardest stage we play on, it's outside and it's red hot, but if you can play here you can play anywhere."
Chisnall also won through to the semi-finals on his return to the World Series of Darts circuit, having reached the same stage in his previous visit to Dubai in 2014.