Nathan Aspinall beats Rob Cross to win UK Open and first major title
'The Asp' rises to 16 in the Order of Merit after £100,000 winners cheque and completes spectacular six months following first Pro Tour title in September
Last Updated: 04/03/19 7:54am
Nathan Aspinall continued his remarkable rise up the PDC rankings by beating Rob Cross to win the UK Open and with it claim a first major ranking title.
On a busy final day at Butlins in Minehead, Aspinall beat former world champion Cross 11-5 in the final, following a thrilling 11-9 semi-final win over in-form Price and a battling 10-6 win over Ross Smith on Sunday afternoon.
Aspinall, who reached the World Championship semi-final at Alexandra Palace in December, in the same year he won back his Tour card in January, sealed victory with the highest possible finish on the board - a glorious 170 check-out prompted wild celebrations from the 27-year-old.
Aspinall, who entered the weekend ranked 34th on the Order of Merit, became the first player ranked outside the top 32 to win a televised ranking event since 2012 and just the second player in PDC history, after Colin Lloyd, to win a televised tournament with a 170 finish.
"I've worked so hard to get this far and to win this title is just a truly amazing feeling," said Aspinall, who will also make his Premier League debut in Nottingham on March 14 having been selected as one of the 'contenders' to replace Gary Anderson.
"[In 2014] my grandad and I were sat in the crowd and I told him I'm as good as the players up there, and now here I am lifting the trophy on this stage, it's just unreal.
"I want to thank my family because I'm away a lot so this is for them and I'd like to thank everyone for their support.
"The standard is so tough now, it was a long day for us both and neither Rob nor I played like we can in the final but I'm just so happy to get the win."
Players outside OoM Top 16 to win a senior singles PDC TV title:— Burton DeWitt (@bsd987) March 3, 2019
Scott Waites (NR) - 2010 GSoD
Paul Nicholson (35) - 2010 PCF
Robert Thornton (34) - 2012 UKO
Kyle Anderson (28) - 2017 ADM
Michael van Gerwen (22) - 2012 WGP
Kevin Painter (21) - 2011 PCF
Rob Cross (20) - 2018 WC
Despite the carnage of the opening day, it was four of the best and brightest names who were left standing for the closing stages on Sunday night with world No 2 Cross joined by world No 6 Michael Smith and world No 7 Price, but it was the lowest ranked of the final four that prevailed.
Aspinall dominated a final which saw both players averaging below 90, the draining effects of three days contesting the 'FA Cup of Darts' in the South West were evident but 'The Asp' was not to be denied.
Having beaten Toni Alcinas, Christian Kist, Madars Razma and Steve Lennon to reach the last day of competition, Aspinall began the day with victory over Smith in the quarter-finals and Price, riding a 20-match unbeaten run to set up his showdown with Cross, who beat Josh Payne and Smith on his way to the final.
Nathan Aspinall is the fastest player ever to reach the top 16 after winning a tour card at Q School, having done so in 406 days.— Christopher Kempf (@ochepedia) March 3, 2019
The final began with a strong start from Cross, who hit 180s in each of the opening two legs, but Aspinall held firm and struck the first blow with a 77 finish to break throw and go 3-2 up.
Growing in belief, Aspinall took out 66 for a second break to open up a three-leg lead at 5-2, but after four darts at double went begging for the Stockport ace, Cross found double four to break straight back.
It was then Cross' turn to rue missed chances as he fired wide six times, missing the chance to level in leg ten as Aspinall regained breathing space at 6-4 and then won five of the next six legs to power his way across the finishing line.
Given the fairytale nature of his return to the Tour in January 2018, it was no surprise to see a storybook finish and when he landed the biggest fish of them all - the 170 finish - he couldn't contain his delight as the Skyline Arena raised the roof.
"Full credit to Nathan, he played well but I had nothing left which is a great shame," said Cross.
"This tournament was a massive start to my career in 2016 and it was great to play well here in front of this amazing crowd again. Unfortunately I came up just short in the final but take nothing away from Nathan, he was pure class all the way through."
Smith had to settle for a semi-final finish in Minehead after defying the pain of a leg injury throughout the weekend, powering through his quarter-final against Steve Beaton with a fine 10-1 triumph only to lose out 11-7 to Cross in the last four.
In-form Gerwyn Price had seen his 20-game unbeaten run ended by Aspinall in the semis, with the Welshman being a 10-5 victor against Plymouth's Simon Stevenson in the afternoon session.
Josh Payne and Ross Smith also saw their impressive weekends in Minehead ended in the last eight after they won through to their first televised PDC ranking quarter-finals.
Rob Cross 10-7 Josh Payne
Michael Smith 10-1 Steve Beaton
Gerwyn Price 10-5 Simon Stevenson
Nathan Aspinall 10-6 Ross Smith
Nathan Aspinall 11-9 Gerwyn Price
Rob Cross 11-7 Michael Smith
Nathan Aspinall 11-5 Rob Cross
The Premier League heads to the BHGE Arena in Aberdeen on Thursday, March 7. You can also stay up to date with all the action by following us @SkySportsDarts and get all the latest news, previews and interviews www.skysports.com/darts