Colin Lloyd hails 'great champion' Rob Cross following his World Matchplay triumph
By Josh Gorton
Last Updated: 02/08/19 6:22am
Colin Lloyd hailed Rob Cross as "great champion" after the world No 2 claimed his maiden World Matchplay title at the Winter Gardens last Sunday.
Cross defeated his World Cup partner Michael Smith 18-13 in last weekend's final, to become just the fourth player in PDC history to have lifted both the World Championship and World Matchplay titles.
'Voltage' had not won a major crown since his extraordinary World Championship triumph on New Year's Day in 2018, but he continues his meteoric rise by securing another huge honour in just his third year as a professional.
Cross becomes the ninth different player to win the World Matchplay and speaking on the Darts Show podcast, 2005 champion Colin Lloyd was full of praise for the 28-year-old.
"Rob Cross - absolutely fantastic," he said. "Everybody was saying will he win another major title after the World Championship? Was it a fluke? Of course it wasn't a fluke. He is a class player and he proved his grit and his worth.
"The crowd got on his back a little bit but he stayed focused and got on with the job in hand and he's now the ninth player to be crowned World Matchplay champion, so fair play to him.
"He's level-headed, he knows what he wants and the great thing about Rob Cross is he puts in the effort. He puts in the practice, he puts in the hard work. When you do, you deserve every reward that you get."
Cross is now a multiple major champion but the world No 2 admitted he struggled with the pressure and expectation that came with being crowned world champion in 2018.
When he turned up for that final, he came out of the traps the quickest. I don't think in a million years he thought that he would have a 9-0 lead.
Lloyd on Cross
Lloyd - also a two-time major PDC winner - claimed that he also found it a difficult to cope with the added scrutiny after sealing his first title, but he expects Cross to adjust to his latest triumph with relative ease.
"When I won the World Grand Prix it was very difficult because that was my first major," he added. "I didn't cope with it great, but I thought 'listen, you're a champion get on with it'.
"Then when I won the second one I found it a lot easier, I thought to myself: 'This is what we do every day'. It was just me against those guys and Rob will cope with it a lot better now."
Cross produced a remarkable comeback from 14-7 and 15-9 down against Daryl Gurney in the semi-finals and Lloyd believes his sluggish start against the Northern Irishman was the catalyst for his strong start in Sunday's final.
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"Rob didn't give up, but I think he just relaxed and thought the bridge is too far now," the former world No 1 said.
"He just relaxed and started throwing his darts and all of a sudden 15-9 turns into 15-12 and he thought, I can nick this.
"He pushed on in the final. Michael [Smith] went up and played Glen Durrant. The scoring was there, the finishing was there and Rob knew he had a game on his hands in the final.
"When he turned up for that final, he came out of the traps the quickest. I don't think in a million years he thought that he would have a 9-0 lead."
Having trailed 9-0, Smith fought back valiantly to reduce the arrears to 15-13, but Cross showed his class - reeling off the final three legs to prevail and deny 'Bully Boy' a first major televised title.
Only Phil Taylor, Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson have won both the World Championship and World Matchplay and Lloyd lavished praise on Cross, as both a player and ambassador for the game.
"He's just a great player and a great champion and he's great for our sport," he added. "He hits the big finishes, he hits the big shots and he addresses himself in a fantastic manner.
"He's always got time for the fans which is a massive plus and he gives great interviews. He tells you exactly how he's feeling. He doesn't try to hide anything. I think that is what makes him a great person and a great player."
Join us for coverage of the World Grand Prix from Dublin. The unique Double in, Double out format will be held from October 6-12 at the Citywest Hotel, live on Sky Sports Action.