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Humphries edged out in UK Open thriller





Luke Humphries fell agonisingly short in his bid for a maiden UK Open success, which brought an end to his remarkable 24-match winning run in televised ranking events.

The 2021 runner-up conceded just 18 legs in advancing to Sunday’s showpiece, producing a trio of ton-topping averages in the process.

Luke Humphries
Luke Humphries

The world number one defied ten 180s from Dirk van Duijvenbode to triumph in a high-quality fourth round tie, and he continued his progress with emphatic wins over Benjamin Drue Reus and Mervyn King on Saturday.

Humphries then stormed past Stephen Bunting and Ricky Evans on Finals Day, averaging 102 to demolish Masters champion Bunting, before sweeping aside Evans 11-2 in the semi-finals.

“I didn’t play well in the final, but I gave everything,” reflected the Newbury ace, who walked away with the £50,000 runner-up prize.

“I was very fortunate to get two match darts at the end there, and obviously I am gutted, but Dimitri played a good game and hit a couple of big shots at the right time.

“The crowd were amazing towards me, so I owed it to them to give it everything, and I’m really proud of the way I played again this weekend.”

The Belgian raced into a 4-1 lead with a 103 average at the first interval, with a clinical 124 finish on the bull in leg two helping him to establish early daylight.

The 29-year-old stretched his advantage to 7-2 after maintaining his ruthlessness on the outer ring, although Humphries responded with back-to-back legs to threaten a fightback.

Van den Bergh restored his four-leg buffer with a brilliant 130 checkout in leg 12, defying six perfect darts from the world number one to move 8-4 ahead.

Humphries looked to be staring down the barrel, but he came back off the canvas with a run of four straight legs to level proceedings, aided by a clutch 116 combination in leg 15.

The pendulum swung once more as Van den Bergh converted clinical 97 and 76 finishes to move to the cusp of victory at 10-8, although the drama didn’t end there.

The Belgian frittered away six match darts across the next two legs as Humphries profited to force a 21st and deciding leg, before carving out two championship darts of his own.

However, the World Champion was unable to complete the fightback, and Van den Bergh capitalised, producing a nerveless two-dart 64 combination to secure his fourth PDC ranking title.



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