Max Hopp beats Michael Smith to win German Darts Open
Michael van Gerwen suffers quarter-final defeat to Ian White but 'Maximiser' has his breakthrough moment in Saarbrucken
Last Updated: 16/04/18 4:26pm
Max Hopp delighted the home crowd to win his first PDC European Tour title with a brilliant victory over Michael Smith in Sunday's German Darts Open final.
In a fairy-tale run, the 2015 PDC Unicorn World Youth Champion overcame three Unibet Premier League stars on his way to the £25,000 first prize as he claimed his first senior title.
With over 3,000 home fans cheering him to victory, the German dug deep and produced some dramatic finishing to secure an incredible comeback win in a historic moment for the sport.
The 21-year-old, who came through Thursday's Host Nation Qualifiers to be in the event, started his campaign with a convincing victory over Zoran Lerchbacher in round one, and then saw off reigning champion Peter Wright on Saturday.
On the final day, he came through a gruelling encounter with 2017 Saarbrucken finalist Benito van de Pas, squeezed past Joe Cullen and then beat reigning world champion Rob Cross with a stunning 121 checkout in their decider to reach the final.
He was then to repeat that trick when the pressure was at its highest to secure his first senior PDC title in a significant triumph.
In a truly gripping final, Hopp looked to be running out of steam as he trailed Smith for large parts.
An early break of throw saw Smith race into a 3-0 lead, before Hopp began to wake up with a 13-darter to get a foothold in the game.
With legs continuing to go with throw, Smith looked to be walking towards a fifth European Tour title as he kept Hopp, and the home crowd, at bay as he moved 6-4 ahead.
Hopp then seized the advantage in the 11th leg as he broke back with a 14-darter to move to within one at 6-5, and matched that in the next to level the contest.
A shaky leg then saw him hand the initiative back to Smith, as despite missing the bull for a 170 checkout he saw the Premier League star move onto the brink of the title.
The opportunity for a 121 checkout presented itself once more to Hopp to level, and despite missing the bull he cleaned up the 25 to force a decider.
There was no missing the bull the next time around as he took out the 121 on the middle double to snatch the title in incredible fashion.
The win is a landmark moment for Germany's number one and a watershed moment for darts in his home country - having not reached the semi-finals of a senior PDC event previously, Hopp becomes the first German to win a PDC ranking event.
He has now also all but secured his place in the BetVictor World Matchplay for the first time, as well as a place in the Unibet World Grand Prix and Unibet European Championship.
It was an enthralling final day of action in the German Darts Open, starting with Michael van Gerwen being given a scare as he recovered from 4-1 down to beat Alan Tabern 6-4 in round three.
But the tournament was then blown wide open in the quarter-finals as the world No 1 crashed out in dramatic fashion at the hands of Ian White in a 6-2 defeat.
It was one of the performances of the competition from White as he backed up his whitewash of Dave Chisnall in the third round by averaging 105.92 and landing six of his seven double attempts to end Van Gerwen's bid for a third European Tour win of 2018.
White's run was then abruptly brought to an end in a 7-1 defeat in the semi-finals by Smith, who averaged an incredible 107.24 and landed 78 per cent of his doubles in his finest display of the competition.
World champion Cross, still on the hunt for his first European Tour title, also looked in good form on the final day.
He started with a comfortable win over Darren Webster, before brushing aside Gerwyn Price with a 105 average.
But he ran into a resilient Hopp as the youngster, buoyed by the home crowd, put in arguably his best display of the competition, averaging over 100, landing five maximums and taking out checkouts of 120 and 121 to win a thriller 7-6.
The PDC European Tour continues from April 20-22 with the Austrian Darts Open in Premstatten, Graz as 48 players compete for £135,000 in prize money.
Next up the 2018 Premier League heads to Rotterdam's Ahoy for a darting double header next Wednesday and Thursday for weeks 11 & 12 coverage is underway from 7pm on Sky Sports Action & Sky Sports Main Event on Wednesday, with Thursday's action underway from 7pm on Sky Sports Action
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