World Champion Michael van Gerwen was left reeling last night after being sensationally knocked out at the semi-final stage by World Championship debutant Rob Cross in an epic encounter at the Alexandra Palace.
The devastated Dutchman was rendered speechless after his defeat and drew the ire of some fans for refusing to speak in front of the cameras, instead, leaving for the sanctuary of his dressing room.
Sky Sports host Dave Clark said: "Michael van Gerwen apologises. He's devasted behind the scenes.
"He's absolutely distraught, too distraught to speak to us."
Darts legend John Part agreed with the World No 1's decision to avoid speaking in the immediate aftermath of such a shocking loss, saying: "It's better not to when you're in a bad mood like this and you may say something you regret later."
Coming into the match as a heavy favourite, the 28-year-old Van Gerwen quickly realised that the inexperienced Cross was not overawed by either the occasion or his opponent as the match escalated into a ding dong battle of real quality.
Incredibly, with the game tied at five sets apiece, the Dutchman missed five darts to seal the victory and Cross claimed his place in the final with a double eight in the sudden death leg.
There was bedlam in the arena as Cross raised his arms in triumph, while the inconsolable Van Gerwen stood in stunned silence.
A jubilant Cross was only too happy to talk, and told Sky Sports that: “Words can’t explain it. Don’t get me wrong, I played well but the crowd helped me, they really did. They got on Michael’s back and that’s why I won.
"At points I felt inexperienced, I really did, but I still got through. I will come out [in the final] and want to win."
For the 27-year-old Cross, an emotional encounter with his hero awaits.
Phil Taylor the 16-time champion is playing in his final event before retiring and intriguingly Taylor predicted this unlikely outcome in November as Cross revealed.
"Phil said to me at the Grand Slam 'me and you in the final' at the World Championship and that's come true now."
As Van Gerwen licks his wounds, the darts worlds awaits an engrossing climax to this year's championships.
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