CROSS DENIES NINE-DART HUMPHRIES TO WIN NEO.bet BALTIC SEA DARTS OPEN

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Baltic Sea Darts Open 2024

Rob Cross defied a brilliant nine-darter from Luke Humphries to win his second PDC European Tour title, taking victory in the NEO.bet Baltic Sea Darts Open final.

Cross had only claimed the title once in nine previous European Tour finals, but scooped the £30,000 top prize with a gutsy 8-6 win over the World Champion.

Humphries had shown his class with a sensational nine-darter as he moved 5-3 up in the final, only for Cross to take five of the next six legs for glory at Kiel’s Wunderino Arena.

Cross had edged out Masters champion Stephen Bunting 6-5 in a high-quality third round tie on Sunday afternoon, and needed a deciding leg to seal his comeback win over Ritchie Edhouse in the quarter-finals.

He then took out 156 and 126 during his 7-4 semi-final win over Madars Razma, booking a spot in a second European Tour final of 2024 – having seen Luke Littler land a nine-darter on his way to the Belgian Darts Open title in March.

This time, though, it was Cross who would emerge victorious following a high-quality final where the Hastings ace averaged 105.56 to Humphries’ 104.38 to win his first ranking title in 50 weeks.

“To hit back-to-back 12-darters to win was great and I’m happy that I’ve won something – it’s been a while!” said Cross, who defeated Humphries in the European Darts Grand Prix final last May.

“It’s an amazing experience to come up and win something again. I’ve got a new regime at the minute and it’s working. I feel much better, much fresher in the longer days and long may it continue.”

Cross and Humphries have now contested four European Tour finals, with the latter taking two wins in 2022 before the Hastings star claimed glory in Sindelfingen last year.

“Me and Luke always have good games and I really enjoyed it,” added Cross. “He’s number one for a reason – he’s the best player on the planet.

“I like playing Luke and he likes playing me – he’s probably got the upper hand of late. He’s got the world at his feet and we have a great friendship.”

Humphries opened the final with a 13-darter, but Cross remained level after four legs after he posted legs of 14 and 13 darts, before breaking for the first time to punish two missed doubles from the world number one.

Humphries broke back immediately by finishing 68 before an 11-darter moved him 4-3 up.

Humphries had missed double 12 for a nine-darter in Saturday’s second round win over Sebastian Bialecki, but the final’s eighth leg saw him achieve perfection – to the delight of the packed Kiel crowd.

Cross, though, responded superbly with an 11-darter and then levelled on double five, with Humphries taking out 78 for a 6-5 cushion only to see two further doubles punished as his rival squared the game on double eight.

Cross then broke with a 12-darter on double eight to move 7-6 up, and then sealed victory with another four-visit leg as he took out 100 for the title.

Humphries began Sunday’s final stages with a 6-4 third round defeat of Ross Smith, and then overcame Michael van Gerwen – in a repeat of their Premier League final in Leeds last Thursday – by a 6-3 margin in the quarter-finals.

He then defeated Danny Noppert 7-4 to book his spot in the final but was denied a seventh European Tour triumph.

“I don’t think I did much wrong to be honest,” said Humphries, who lost to Dave Chisnall in the Kiel final last year. “I the last couple of legs, I didn’t really do too much wrong.

“Rob’s timing was much better than mine. I think that’s our fourth [European Tour final] now and it’s two-all – I’ll get him next time!

“It’s always great to hit a nine-darter; of course I’d always like the winner’s trophy. It’s my second nine-darter and I’ve lost both [games].

“I was really looking forward to playing this weekend and that showed in my performances. I thought I played really good in the final but Rob was even better; he was clinical and that’s what it takes to be a winner.”

Baltic Sea Darts Open 2024

Razma, meanwhile, won through to his second European Tour semi-final as he enjoyed a best run of 2024, with the Latvian seeing off Chris Dobey, Dave Chisnall, Joe Cullen and Ryan Searle during the event.

Noppert saw his bid for a second ranking title of 2024 end in a semi-final loss, after he overcame Franz Roetzsch and Mike De Decker before being edged out by Humphries.

Edhouse reached his second European Tour quarter-final of the year with a clinical third round win over Ricardo Pietreczko, before Cross came from 5-3 down to deny him a last four place.

Van Gerwen had taken out 132 to win his third round decider against Andrew Gilding, but the Dutchman was unable to add to his 36 European Tour triumphs as he exited to Humphries.

Belgian ace De Decker defeated Damon Heta to reach his first quarter-final of 2024, while Searle lost out in the last eight for the third time on the European Tour this year.

The PDC European Tour returns from May 24-26 with the Elten Safety Shoes Dutch Darts Championship at Autotron Rosmalen. For tickets, visit pdc-europe.tv/tickets.

The PDC European Tour is broadcast live on Viaplay, DAZN and PDCTV (excluding Germany, Austria and Switzerland) and through bookmakers’ websites worldwide.

NEO.bet Baltic Sea Darts Open

Sunday May 12

Afternoon Session

Third Round

Michael van Gerwen 6-5 Andrew Gilding

Luke Humphries 6-4 Ross Smith

Danny Noppert 6-2 Franz Roetzsch

Mike De Decker 6-2 Damon Heta

Ritchie Edhouse 6-3 Ricardo Pietreczko

Rob Cross 6-5 Stephen Bunting

Ryan Searle 6-5 Daryl Gurney

Madars Razma 6-5 Joe Cullen

Evening Session

Quarter-Finals

Luke Humphries 6-3 Michael van Gerwen

Danny Noppert 6-4 Mike De Decker

Rob Cross 6-5 Ritchie Edhouse

Madars Razma 6-3 Ryan Searle

Semi-Finals

Luke Humphries 7-4 Danny Noppert

Rob Cross 7-4 Madars Razma

Final

Rob Cross 8-6 Luke Humphries

Photos credit Jonas Hunold/PDC Europe

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