A dramatic contest and a thrilling conclusion in the semi-final clash between Michael van Gerwen and Rob Cross saw the latter register his name in the final of the 2018 PDC World Darts Championship in the early hours of the Sunday morning.
Probably one of the greatest matches in the history of the sport, the Dutch-British rivals provided an enticing show for the crowd present at the Alexandra Palace as well as fans worldwide.
It was Cross who ultimately reigned supreme as he edged his counterpart to win the tie with the final scoreline as 6-5.
Van Gerwen was the favourite and was well in contention to face Phil Taylor in the final, only to be left surprised at the turn of events in the end.
He looked a stark contrast of himself as he missed six match darts which saw him visibly distraught at his uncharacteristic performance.
Van Gerwen led the match 5-4, however, missed five match darts, with Cross taking full advantage of it and forcing a final leg shoot-out.
Speaking during the aftermath of the contest, the 28-year-old said: “I think this is just his [Cross] year.
“He had the luck going for him. It's that simple. Those doubles were so close on the wire. I'm sick about that.”
The Dutchman rues the missed opportunities, but took the blame on himself for the outcome.
He added: “Normally that doesn't happen to me and I'm the only one to blame for it. My scoring was good at the right moment but my doubles let me down. I can only blame myself for that."
He only had high praise for Cross, who performed brilliantly in his debut professional year.
“Of course he's a great winner. But I think I deserved to win this match to be quite honest,” said Van Gerwen.
“I had six match darts and normally I don't miss that many.”
Van Gerwen averaged 102.44 in the match, while Cross also closely matched him in the process.
Asked if this was the most heart-breaking exit of his pro career, Van Gerwen replied: “Yes, of course. I hate losing, especially on this tournament.
“I think I was better than Rob, but on the important moments I could (not) bring something extra.
“But missing these doubles was extremely painful. There was nothing I could do about it. He played really well, all credit to him."
Told to comment on the controversial crowd at the Ally Pally, he believes no external factor is responsible for his fate in the championship and it was his faults that resulted in his ouster.
Van Gerwen concluded: “I should have won this. I can only blame myself and nobody else. I don't like saying it was because of the crowd or other things.
“I missed those doubles and it was my fault.”
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