Rising darts star Rob Cross came agonisingly close to beating the world number one in a thrilling televised contest last night (Sunday).
The St Leonards-based thrower held a 4-2 lead against the great Michael van Gerwen in Group A of the bwin Grand Slam of Darts before the Dutchman hit back for a 5-4 victory.
In a match of superb quality at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall, Cross ended with an average of nearly 105, having at one stage been over 110, and van Gerwen averaged more than 108.
Cross took out finishes of 114 and a brilliant maximum 170 to move within a leg of a magnificent victory, but missed two darts for the match in leg eight as van Gerwen levelled at 4-4.
The world champion showed his class with an 11-darter in the deciding leg to secure a hard-fought victory and qualification for the knockout phase with one match remaining.
Cross, who was beaten by van Gerwen in the Unibet European Championship final two weeks ago and the quarter-finals of the Ladbrokes World Series of Darts Finals last weekend, will face Scottish player Ross Montgomery tomorrow night for a place in the knockout stage.
The 27-year-old, nicknamed Voltage, was a convincing 5-1 winner over Joe Murnan in his opening match on Saturday night with an average of almost 104.
Cross has enjoyed a remarkable debut season on the Professional Darts Corporation ProTour, winning four Players Championship titles and rising to 23rd on the PDC order of merit.