Michael van Gerwen survived a spirited fightback from Nathan Aspinall to land a sixth World Grand Prix title.
Van Gerwen went into the clash at the Morningside Arena in Leicester as the heavy favourite, having demolished Peter Wright 4-0 in his semi-final on Saturday. And after racing into a 4-0 lead against Aspinall with some superb darts, it looked like he might record the first final whitewash since Phil Taylor thumped Dave Chisnall 6-0 in 2013.
But Aspinall dug in and stopped the rot to make it 4-1 to give himself a glimmer of hope. That glimmer turned into a chink as he made it 4-2, and that chink became a huge ray of light as he reeled off a third consecutive set to make it 4-3.
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A break in proceedings allowed Van Gerwen to regroup and he duly reeled off the first two legs in the eighth set to go within a leg of victory. But Aspinall rallied once more and won back-to-back legs to force a decider.
Unfortunately it wasn't to be for the Asp, who missed two darts to take the game to a deciding set before MVG took out double six with his second attempt to secure his first World Grand Prix crown since 2019.
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The two men embraced at the end of a compelling contest which had threatened to be over before it had begun, only for Aspinall to show what he was made of and make a real fist of it.
Speaking to Sky Sports after clinching a dramatic 5-3 win, Van Gerwen said: "It's great to have this tournament back in my hands. I had to battle for it really hard. At the end of the game I felt a bit sick, to be fair.
"When a guy like Nathan puts his relax mode on he can play some phenomenal darts and that's exactly what he did. I'm glad I won this one, it was a tough one, I know that. The crowd was on his side, we're here in England and that's only how it should be.
"But for me to have this trophy back, it feels amazing."
Asked whether he started to panic as Aspinall began reeling him back in, set-by-set, MVG responded: "I wasn't panicking at all. But, of course, I was going to feel sick at some point.
"I thought that if someone deserved to win this game it was me because I think I did all the damage early doors, I went 1-0 up, 2-0, 3-0, 4-0. With all respect, Nathan is a phenomenal player.
"Nathan has been struggling with such a bad injury on his arm, I think he's been a credit to the sport in the last year, the last two, three, four, five years, and we all know that. He's battled back, and I think that is the difference between a winner and a loser. And I think he was the winner tonight."
Van Gerwen pocketed a cool £120,000 for his success in the World Grand Prix, moving him closer to Gerwyn Price and Peter Wright at the top of the PDC Order of Merit. He'll get another chance to reel them in next weekend when the players reconvene in Gibraltar for the Gibraltar Darts Trophy.
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