Rob Cross continued his rapid rise in the PDC as he knocked out top seed Michael van Gerwen in the third round of the HappyBet German Darts Open in Leverkusen this afternoon.
The world number 51, who joined the main PDC circuit this year after finishing top of the Challenge Tour Order of Merit in 2016, averaged 102.30, hit four 180s and fired in three 100+ checkouts on his way to a 6-2 win over the Dutchman.
Van Gerwen was bidding to win a third straight European Tour event in Germany this weekend, but rising star Cross had other ideas as he punished the world number one’s 15.38 checkout percentage with a memorable victory on the Ostermann Arena stage.
“I’m not one to be fazed by the player,” Cross said after beating the reigning world champion. “I play the board and play my own game.
“In my eyes, if I play my own game I’ll be close to winning all the time.
“The more and more I’m doing it (on this stage) the more confident I’m getting. Before joining the PDC I played in nothing, it’s been a big eye opener, but I’m getting better.”
Cross got off to a flying start with a 13-darter followed quickly by a 108 checkout for a 12-dart break of throw to lead 2-0, before van Gerwen responded immediately with back-to-back legs to level up the match at 2-2.
Another 12 darter, and another 100+ finish, came in the fifth leg as Cross checked out 121 to regain the lead, and it would spark the start of a four-leg winning run which took him to victory.
Van Gerwen missed two darts to hold throw in the sixth leg, and the 16th seed punished him by hitting double 10 to break again for a 4-2 lead.
In a dramatic seventh leg, van Gerwen spurned five darts at doubles to break straight back, with Cross himself missing three at the outer ring before eventually finding double two to move to within a leg of the match.
And Cross wrapped up an impressive win in the very next leg, finishing off 108 for the second time on double 16 to seal a 6-2 win over the world number one.
Cross, a two-time winner on the Players Championship circuit this year, will next face Mervyn King, a player he beat in one of those finals, in the quarter-finals this evening.
King was also in impressive form this afternoon as he averaged 102.95 and hit four 180s in a 6-3 win over South Africa’s Devon Petersen.
The former European Tour winner got off to a lightening quick start, winning three of the opening four legs in 11, 13 and 14 darts, before Petersen punished missed doubles from King to close the gap to 4-3.
But King found his groove again with legs of 14 and 15 darts to wrap up a 6-3 win and progress to his second consecutive quarter-final on the European Tour.
World number three Peter Wright continued his bid for a fourth European Tour title of 2017 as he swept aside former BDO world champion Stephen Bunting 6-3.
The UK Open champion hit three 180s and fired in a 118 checkout on his way to a first quarter-final in six tournaments, with a three-leg winning burst proving crucial as Wright went from 2-2 to 5-2 up.
And after missing seven match darts in the ninth leg, the second seed managed to land double one with his last dart in hand to move through to a quarter-final clash with Dave Chisnall tonight.
World number six Chisnall rattled off five legs in a row as he fought back from 3-1 down to defeat world number 61 James Richardson 6-3 this afternoon.
Richardson pounced on missed doubles from Chisnall in the early stages to take a 3-1 lead, before the Premier League star responded by winning legs in 14, 13, 14, 12 and 17 darts to book his place in the last eight.
Michael Smith stepped up his quest for a second victory on the European Tour this year as he edged past Daryl Gurney 6-3 in a back and forth encounter.
After dropping the first leg, Smith reeled off legs in 12, 14 and 13 darts to open up a 3-1 advantage, before Gurney hit back with checkouts of 96 and 90 to level the match up at 3-3.
However, the Northern Irishman crucially missed three darts at doubles in the next leg to regain the lead, and Smith punished him by hitting double 18 to break and go 4-3 in front.
Smith, who won the Gibraltar Darts Trophy in May, then clinched the next two legs, the latter with a 100 finish for a 12 darter, to complete a 6-3 win.
The former PDC world youth champion will face off against Gerwyn Price in the last eight this evening, after the Welshman saw off Belgium’s Dimitri van den Bergh 6-3 earlier today.
Price, runner-up in the UK Open and World Cup of Darts this year, broke van den Bergh’s throw in the third leg and the remaining legs all went with the darts as Price secured his place in a third European Tour quarter-final of 2017.
In the opening match of the session, Scotland’s John Henderson survived five match darts to beat Alan Norris 6-5 and reach his first quarter-final on the European Tour in two years.
The pair traded 100+ checkouts in the early stages, with Henderson’s 114 finish in the fourth leg being followed by a 120 out by Norris.
Henderson had earlier pounced on a miscount from Norris to break in the opening leg as he led throughout the majority of the contest.
But after he missed three darts at doubles for a 5-3 lead, Norris checked out 66 to get the match back on throw at 4-4.
After the next two legs both went with throw, it was Norris who was first to a double in the decider, but he crucially missed five match darts and Henderson scraped over the line to advance to the last eight.
The Scot will face Austria’s Mensur Suljovic in the quarter-finals tonight, after the third seed was awarded a bye following the withdrawal of his scheduled third round opponent Joe Cullen.
Cullen withdrew from the tournament this morning to fly back to the UK after his father suffered a heart attack. The Love The Darts team sends its best wishes to Joe and his family.
HappyBet European Darts Open
Sunday July 2
Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm local time, 12pm-4pm BST)
Mensur Suljovic Bye (Joe Cullen withdrew)
John Henderson 6-5 Alan Norris
James Richardson 3-6 Dave Chisnall
Peter Wright 6-3 Stephen Bunting
Dimitri Van den Bergh 3-6 Gerwyn Price
Michael Smith 6-3 Daryl Gurney
Devon Petersen 3-6 Mervyn King
Michael van Gerwen 2-6 Rob Cross
Evening Session (7pm-11pm local time, 6pm-10pm BST)
Mensur Suljovic v John Henderson
Dave Chisnall v Peter Wright
Gerwyn Price v Michael Smith
Mervyn King v Rob Cross
Sunday’s games played in Draw Bracket order. All games are the best of 11 legs.