Darts star Rob Cross continued his remarkable rise with a series of outstanding performances to reach his first European Tour final at the weekend.
The St Leonards-based thrower won four matches, averaging over 100 in all of them, before losing to world number one Michael van Gerwen in the HappyBet German Darts Grand Prix.
“I played well this week and I really enjoyed it,” said Cross. “I lost my way a bit in the last four legs, but I can’t take anything away from Michael.
“That’s why he’s there and the experience he’s got is vast, but it won’t be long before I catch him up there. I’m going to be there.”
Cross, who has won two Players Championship titles this year, followed up Saturday’s 103.81 average in a 6-3 second round win over Jan Dekker with a stunning 109.10 average as he stormed past world number seven Mensur Suljovic 6-2 in Sunday afternoon’s third round.
He then overcame 14th-ranked Ian White 6-2 with the aid of a 105.89 average in the quarter-finals and averaged 102.87 in a 6-3 semi-final defeat of world number 15 Benito van de Pas.
Cross was eventually beaten 6-3 in the final by van Gerwen, who produced an imperious display to win his fifth European Tour title of 2017 and 14th tournament of the year.
After van Gerwen opened the final with a 180, both players missed the bull before Cross returned on double eight to hold throw.
Van Gerwen levelled in style by taking out 127 for a 12-darter, with Cross finishing 111 to hold in the third after the Dutchman missed double 14 to check out 145.
The world champion landed a maximum and tops for a 13-darter to square the game in the fourth, but was unable to finish 104 in the fifth as Cross escaped from five missed doubles by landing double five to lead 3-2.
A missed bull for a 127 finish in the sixth from Cross allowed van Gerwen to avoid a possible break as double 16 saw him square the game once more.
Van Gerwen then secured the crucial break himself to move 4-3 up, opening leg seven with a 180 before taking out 76 for an 11-darter to lead for the first time.
The Dutchman then backed that up with a superb 12-darter, opening once more with a maximum before taking out 101 on double 16 for a 5-3 lead before a 110 checkout sealed a brilliant win.
Van Gerwen said: “Rob was the player who gave me the biggest game and it was difficult to break his throw. I’m sure I’m going to have more good clashes against Rob, he’s broken through this year and he’s doing really well. He’s going to be one of the big superstars.”
Cross, nicknamed Voltage, is up to 38th in the world rankings and told Observer Sport earlier this summer that his long term goal is to become number one.