Rob Cross 'ran out of puff' in UK Open final, says Wayne Mardle
Mardle on UK Open: "It's more like a battle of the fittest, rather than a battle of the best"
Last Updated: 04/03/19 7:55pm
Rob Cross "completely ran out of puff" in the final of the UK Open against surprise winner Nathan Aspinall, says Wayne Mardle.
Cross, who was competing in his first televised ranking final since being crowned World Champion in 2018, was left to rue missed opportunities as Aspinall sealed an 11-5 victory on Sunday night.
Cross had averaged 102.16, producing a fine 153 checkout along the way, in a 7-1 demolition of Daryl Gurney on night four of the Premier League in Exeter, but Mardle felt 'Voltage' lost his spark at the end of a long weekend.
"He didn't play great all tournament, but he did play to a standard where he was going to be difficult to beat," said Sky Sports expert Mardle. "Put it this way - if you play poor against him he'll have you and if you play average against him he will still have you. To be honest, I didn't see that performance in the final coming from him at all.
"I always felt to beat Rob Cross, someone would have to play really well on a really tough day because that finals day in Minehead - I'm just not sure it's 100 per cent fair on the players to be totally honest. It's more like a battle of the fittest, rather than a battle of the best.
"It's a great event although I never liked it as a player, but to watch it was fun. However, I don't think players should be expected to play under pressure, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Not after they've played the full week before and he got found out in the final - he completely ran out of puff."
Record-breaker Aspinall 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 to win a televised tournament with a 170 finish, while Cross was left licking his wounds after an exhausting few days.
Cross wasn't at his electric best but he was proving a hard nut to crack and no one was getting anywhere near him until Aspinall in the final. Rob will be bitterly disappointed there.
Wayne Mardle on Rob Cross
"Rob will be absolutely fuming with himself but it's one of these situations where there's not a player on the circuit that's been around for a while that hasn't felt like this," revealed Mardle.
"Every now and again, you run out of gas, you can't concentrate, your muscles feel weary and you haven't got that zip in your throw. You can't follow through with that force and speed that you do normally and that's why some of the darts from Cross were low. They were coming out of the hand wrong - it was just a really bad final at the office."
What comes next? Night Five - Thursday, March 7 at the BHGE Arena, Aberdeen
|Michael Smith||vs||Rob Cross|
|Daryl Gurney||vs||James Wade|
|Mensur Suljovic||vs||Gerwyn Price|
|Raymond van Barneveld||vs||Peter Wright|
|Michael van Gerwen||vs||John Henderson|
Mardle took to Twitter to reference Cross' late release of his darts, as fatigue appeared to take over the Hastings thrower.
"What happens is, you're trying to release the dart at the optimum point so you don't have to put so much effort into it and you feel more rhythm.
"But when you start letting go slightly too late then the hand comes into play more. You start to flick with the fingers, it just won't open quick enough and the darts can skew off anywhere. That was happening to Rob Cross a lot, but I'm going to put that down to tiredness rather than bad form.
"Cross wasn't at his electric best but he was proving a hard nut to crack and no one was getting anywhere near him until Aspinall in the final. Rob will be bitterly disappointed there."
Wayne Mardle was speaking to Sky Sports' Raz Mirza. 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