Lewis Breaks Wizard's Spell To Scoop European Championship
ADRIAN LEWIS won his third major title in style with a superb 11-6 win over Simon Whitlock in the European Championship final in Germany on Sunday night.
The 28-year-old from Stoke, twice a runner-up in the event, followed up victories over Andy Hamilton and Michael van Gerwen on the final day of the £200,000 tournament by producing a superb showing against reigning champion Whitlock in the decider.
The two-time World Champion took six of the final's first seven legs to assume command at 6-1 and he also led 9-3 after taking out a 125 finish before Whitlock threatened another fightback.
The Australian had come from 9-3 down in his quarter-final with Jamie Caven to take victory and took the next two legs, but was only able to win three in reply against Lewis, who held his nerve to claim the £50,000 first prize.
"It means a lot to me and it's very special to win this title," said the 28-year-old. "I've had some ups and downs for the last 18 months and I'm on the up again.
"I know that I've got more gears too, and I'm getting there, and it's great to be winning again. I've been working hard, got my rhythm back and the results are coming for me now.
"I went into the final full of confidence after beating Michael, I knew I was playing well and I did a job on Simon. I've lost a couple of times in the final to Phil Taylor, so to win this is a massive achievement."
Lewis took out 106 to win the final's opening leg, and though Whitlock hit a second 180 of the game to level, Lewis landed a 12-darter to move 2-1 up, tops in the next two legs, 11 to win the sixth and 81 for an 11-darter in moving 6-1 ahead of the Australian.
Lewis also hit a 180 in the eighth leg, but missed two darts to extend his lead as Whitlock hit back on double nine before he also posted double eight to step in and pull back to 6-3. Lewis, though, continued his heavy scoring with 'maximum' scores of 180, 174 and 180 in taking the next three legs, hitting a 125 checkout in the process as he moved 9-3 up. He added his fifth maximum of the game in leg 13, but missed his chance to home in on the victory as Whitlock broke by taking out 60 and then finished double six to kick-start his challenge. Double three moved Lewis to the brink of victory at 10-5, after he had scored 171 earlier in the leg, and he landed another 180 in the next only to see miss one match dart, at double seven, as Whitlock finished double ten for a 14-darter to keep his hopes alive.
Lewis, though, kicked off the next leg with a 177, and despite missing one further match dart, at double five to take out 89, the Australian was unable to check out the bull for a 161 finish to continue the fightback as the world number three returned on double five to seal the title.
"I tried my best but Adrian was superb tonight," said a gracious Whitlock. "I had a couple of chances here and there that I missed, and he was too good.
"That was Adrian at his best and it's great to see him back playing so well. When he's on form it's always going to be hard to beat him but I tried my guts out.
"I've played really well throughout this tournament and I'm thrilled to bits to have reached the final. It's not bad being the runner-up and I had a great go at defending my title, but Adrian was the better player and he was just too good in the final."
Whitlock had ended the hopes of both Huybrechts brothers during the event, following up his first round defeat of Kim by ending Ronny's thrilling run in the semi-finals - after the Belgian knocked out Stuart Kellett, Phil Taylor and Robert Thornton.
"Ronny played really well against me and what a great tournament he had," added Whitlock. "Beating Phil Taylor and Robert Thornton is huge for him and he'll kick on from here."
Huybrechts - who only turned professional in January when he won a Tour Card at Qualifying School - will actually return to his 'day job' in Antwerp on Monday at 8am when he is back organising the distribution of industrial-size coffee machines.
"It's been a brilliant weekend," said Huybrechts. "I did my best in the semi-final but Simon was too strong and he deserved to win.
"I'm so happy with how this tournament has gone for me. To get to the semi-finals is a great achievement."
Van Gerwen, meanwhile, had to settle for reaching the semi-finals as he bidding to win yet another title this year - but his run to the last four included a sensational win over Jelle Klaasen in Sunday afternoon's quarter-finals.
He also hit nine 180s and a 150 checkout in his semi-final with Lewis, but paid for allowing the Stoke ace into leads of 4-1 and 8-3 as the world number three eventually sealed victory with a 160 finish.
"It was a great game for everyone watching but I'm very disappointed to lose," said van Gerwen. "I missed five darts to level at four-all, which was important at the end, but it's a plus for me that I came back like I did.
"I threw a great 150 finish to stay in the match when I was 10-7 down, but then he hit a 160 in superb style and there's not much you can do against that. He was more dominant than me today, but I'm looking forward already to the World Matchplay in a couple of weeks."
Ronny Huybrechts 7-11 Simon Whitlock
Michael van Gerwen 8-11 Adrian Lewis
Best of 21 legs
Simon Whitlock 6-11 Adrian Lewis
Best of 21 legs
Ronny Huybrechts v Simon Whitlock
0-0 - Ronny Huybrechts wins the bull and throws first.
0-1 - Whitlock breaks throw immediately by landing double 18 at the second time of asking.
0-2 - Whitlock lands double ten to win the second leg.
1-2 - Whitlock posts a 180 to leave 18, but Huybrechts holds his nerve on tops to hit back.
1-3 - Huybrechts misses three darts to level, and Whitlock finishes tops for a third leg.
1-4 - Whitlock takes out 87 on double 18 for an 11-darter.
1-5 - The Australian wins a third successive leg to move four clear.
2-5 - Huybrechts misses tops for a 160 finish, but Whitlock is unable to capitalise with three darts at double ten to allow the Belgian back in to take his second leg of the game.
2-6 - Whitlock takes out 72 on tops to win a sixth leg.
3-6 - Double six sees Huybrechts continue to battle.
3-7 - Whitlock fires in a 177, and though Huybrechts hits a 180 to leave a finish, the Australian lands tops for a 13-darter to regain his four-leg cushion.
4-7 - Huybrechts hits tops to reply.
4-8 - Huybrechts opens with a 180, but Whitlock scores a 171 and, although he misses the bull for a 170 finish, he lands double four to win an eighth leg.
5-8 - Double 16 sees Huybrechts hit back.
5-9 - Whitlock opens with two 180s, and though a possible nine-darter goes begging, the reigning champion moves two legs away from the final with tops.
6-9 - Huybrechts posts double 18 to win his sixth leg of the game.
7-9 - The Belgian breaks throw for the first time in the match, with Whitlock opening a 180 only to see his opponent finish 150 on double 15.
7-10 - Whitlock hits a 180 to leave 32, and when Huybrechts wires tops for an 80 finish, the reigning champion lands double 16 for a 13-darter to move to the brink of victory.
7-11 - Whitlock posts 174 to leave 40 and seals victory on tops with another 13-darter.
Michael van Gerwen v Adrian Lewis
0-0 - Adrian Lewis wins the bull and throws first.
0-1 - Lewis opens with a 13-darter, finishing tops to lead.
0-2 - The number three seed breaks throw with a 14-dart finish as he takes out 100 on tops.
0-3 - Lewis hits a 180, with van Gerwen replying with a 177 only to miss two darts at tops to punish a miss from his opponent, who returns to land double eight.
1-3 - Double 16 sees van Gerwen get off the mark.
1-4 - Lewis finishes 85 for a 14-darter on tops to regain his three-leg cushion.
2-4 - Lewis hits a 180 before van Gerwen replies in kind, and when the English ace is unable to take out 81, the world number two posts double six for his second leg of the game.
3-4 - van Gerwen breaks for the first time, hitting a 180 and punishing a miss at tops from Lewis - for a 112 finish - by landing double ten.
3-5 - van Gerwen opens with 140 and 180, but misses five darts at doubles to allow Lewis in to take out 93 on double 18 to break back.
3-6 - Lewis finishes 78 on tops to regain his three-leg cushion.
3-7 - Both players kick off with 180s, but van Gerwen misses tops to take the leg and Lewis breaks again by landing double ten.
3-8 - Double ten for Lewis sees him move three legs away from the win.
4-8 - van Gerwen hits a 180 and double eight to win his fourth game.
4-9 - Both players land 180s, and to complete the leg Lewis takes out 141 - for a 12-darter - to continue his great run.
5-9 - Double five sees van Gerwen hit back.
6-9 - The Dutchman breaks throw by finishing double eight.
7-9 - van Gerwen wins a third successive leg, scoring 180, 140, 134 and double eight for a 12-darter, despite Lewis replying with a maximum.
7-10 - Both players open with 180s and Lewis lands a second to set up a possible nine-darter, hitting a seventh treble 20 but missing the treble 19 - although he returns to land double ten for a 13-darter.
8-10 - Lewis scores 140, 140 and 135 to be first to a finish, missing the bullseye for victory before van Gerwen takes out 150 on double 15 to keep his hopes alive in amazing fashion.
8-11 - van Gerwen hits his ninth 180 and Lewis replies with his eighth to leave 160 - and he takes out the finish to win through to the final.
Simon Whitlock v Adrian Lewis
0-0 - Adrian Lewis wins the bull and throws first.
0-1 - Whitlock fires in a 180, but Lewis takes out 106 on tops for a 12-darter to make a brilliant start.
1-1 - Whitlock posts a second 180 and hits tops to level.
1-2 - Lewis opens with a maximum and takes out 85 on tops to land another 12-darter.
1-3 - Lewis hits a 171 score, and when Whitlock wires tops to finish 74, Lewis takes out tops for a break of throw.
1-4 - Lewis is first to a finish, but misses two darts at tops - only for Whitlock to miss two darts at double 12 to break back, and Lewis hits tops at the third time of asking to move three legs up.
1-5 - Lewis wins a fourth successive leg by taking out 36 as he maintains an average of 109.
1-6 - Whitlock fires in his third 180 of the game, but Lewis takes out 81 on double 12 to move five legs clear.
2-6 - Lewis lands a 180 but misses two darts to win the leg, and Whitlock hits back on double nine.
3-6 - Lewis misses six darts to win a dramatic leg across three visits, with Whitlock bursting his score on 81 and then missing the bull before returning to land double eight.
3-7 - Lewis hits his third 180 of the game, and when Whitlock misses double 18, the Stoke ace hits double 16 to break back immediately.
3-8 - Lewis' charge towards a third major title continues as he scores 174 to leave 125, which he takes out on tops.
3-9 - Lewis lands a 180 to leave 45, and is let in on tops when Whitlock misses a second bullseye to finish 120.
4-9 - Lewis hits a fifth maximum of the game, but misses his chance to win a tenth leg and Whitlock pegs double ten to hit back with his fourth leg.
5-9 - Whitlock posts double six to take a fifth leg and pull back towards his opponent.
5-10 - Lewis hits a 171 to leave 12, but misses five darts at doubles - only for Whitlock to miss tops to take out 80 and let him back on double three.
6-10 - Lewis posts his sixth 180 of the game, but misses double seven for the victory on an 86 finish, and Whitlock lands double ten to stay in the game.
6-11 - Lewis opens with a 177, but misses double five to take out 89 - but when Whitlock misses the bull for a 161 checkout, the Stoke star returns on double five for the title.