Darts professional Rob Cross pushed the world number one all the way in another high class televised contest last night (Saturday).
The St Leonards-based player was eventually edged out 16-13 by Michael van Gerwen in the bwin Grand Slam of Darts quarter-finals having at one stage led 10-8.
Speaking to Sky Sports after the match, Cross said: “I was glad with it. The way I’ve been playing and the way I’ve been learning, I knew it was going to be close tonight and I expected myself to maybe win.
“He’s number one for a reason and if he keeps doing that he’s going to take a lot to dethrone, but I actually think I’ve got what it takes. In a bit of time and once we’ve relaxed, we’ll go up there and play him again.
“It’s like a win in a way because I take a lot from this game on to the next one. I’m enjoying my journey of being a professional and hopefully it gets better.”
The two men met in Group A last Sunday night when Cross led 4-2 and had two darts to win 5-3 before van Gerwen hit back to triumph 5-4.
Another tight contest unfolded as they locked horns again in the quarter-finals. Despite van Gerwen opening with 180 and 177 as he landed six perfect darts, Cross took out 127 for a 12-darter to break throw immediately and then finished 112 to move 2-0 up.
Van Gerwen stormed back to level before an 11-darter moved the Dutchman 3-2 up. The next nine legs went with throw as the players maintained ton-plus averages to remain locked at 7-7.
Cross produced an outstanding 131 checkout to break throw in leg 15 before finishing double four to move 9-7 up only for van Gerwen to claim a break back in leg 20 to square the game once more.
The next two were shared before finishes of 122 on the bull and 108 to break gave van Gerwen a two-leg gap once more before the Dutchman hit double four to open up a 14-11 cushion.
Cross hit back to win his 12th leg, but Van Gerwen landed two 180s to his rival’s one as a 12-darter moved him 15-12 up.
The Englishman responded with a 72 finish and had two darts to make it 15-14, but couldn’t convert and van Gerwen sealed victory with a 110 checkout.
Cross, who left the stage with the crowd singing his name, ended the match with a 102.54 average having hit 10 180s and 13 of his 25 attempts at a double. Van Gerwen averaged 104.26 and hit 16 of 26 attempts at a double.
Despite narrowly missing out on a semi-final against the great Phil Taylor, it’s been another terrific tournament for the fast rising Cross.
After winning two of his three matches to finish runner-up in the group, he beat five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld 10-7 in the quarter-finals on Thursday night.
Cross has enjoyed an extraordinary debut season on the Professional Darts Corporation ProTour, winning four Players Championship titles and reaching the Unibet European Championship final.
The 27-year-old, nicknamed Voltage, is currently 24th on the PDC order of merit, but is likely to rise to around 21st when the next rankings list is issued after this event.