Cross relishing facing ‘favourite player’ in world final

Rob Cross celebrates after landing a key dart during his semi-final victory over Michael van Gerwen. Picture courtesy Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Rob Cross celebrates after landing a key dart during his semi-final victory over Michael van Gerwen. Picture courtesy Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Rob Cross is relishing the prospect of facing ‘my favourite player’ in the William Hill World Darts Championship final.

The 27-year-old from St Leonards will take on 16-time world champion Phil Taylor for the biggest title in the sport at Alexandra Palace, London, from 8pm tonight (New Year’s Day).

Speaking to Sky Sports after his epic semi-final victory over world number one and defending champion Michael van Gerwen on Saturday night, Cross said: “Phil said to me at the Grand Slam (of Darts in November) ‘me and you final’ and obviously that’s come true now.

“He’s my favourite player actually. He’s dominated obviously and now he’s leaving (Taylor will retire from darts after the final), it’s going to be special for him. At the same time I’ve got to do my own job and do what I need to do to win that game.”

Cross has enjoyed the most spectacular debut year in the sport’s history since turning professional at the start of 2017, winning four Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) ProTour events and reaching the European Championship final.

The 20th seed, who only last year was working as an electrician, is set to rise into the top six of the world rankings even if he loses the final, which will be the richest ever darts match.

“It’s amazing,” said Cross, who is nicknamed Voltage. “I never expected this rise, I really didn’t. I was just a working boy coming from a normal household.

“I believe in my ability and who’s to say there’s not another person out there who can come and do all this because anything’s possible.

“I would like to say thank you to my management, my family, all these great fans and all my fans, and Barry Hearn and the PDC for giving me this chance - I really appreciate it.”

Taylor is a narrow 4/5 favourite with sponsors William Hill to win the final, with Cross rated at evens to capture the Sid Waddell Trophy and £400,000 first prize.

There is little to choose between the two men in terms of their tournament average, with Cross at 100.47 and Taylor at 100.02. Cross, incidentally, has hit the most 180s of any player in the championship with 55.

Cross, who has survived missed match darts from his opponents in two of his five games so far, has played 152 legs to get to the final, winning 80 and losing 72. Taylor has contested 118 legs, winning 75 and losing 43.

Routes to the final - Rob Cross: 1st round beat Seigo Asada 3-0, 2nd round beat Michael Smith 4-3, 3rd round beat John Henderson 4-1, quarter-finals beat Dimitri van den Bergh 5-4, semi-finals beat Michael van Gerwen 6-5.

Phil Taylor: 1st round beat Chris Dobey 3-1, 2nd round beat Justin Pipe 4-0, 3rd round beat Keegan Brown 4-0, quarter-finals beat Gary Anderson 5-3, semi-finals beat Jamie Lewis 6-1.