DOLAN DENIES DE GRAAF TO RETURN TO WINNER’S CIRCLE IN HILDESHEIM

Brendan Dolan won his first ranking title for almost two years after defeating Jeffrey de Graaf in Tuesday’s Players Championship Ten decider in Hildesheim.

Dolan produced a typically tenacious display to pocket the £15,000 top prize at Halle 39, averaging 98 to sink Swedish star De Graaf 8-4 and celebrate his tenth PDC ranking title.

The Northern Irishman also became the tenth different winner in as many Players Championship events in 2024, to close in on qualification for July’s Betfred World Matchplay.

Dolan began his campaign with a trio of 6-2 victories, sweeping aside Robert Grundy and Franz Roetzsch before dumping out two-time World Champion Peter Wright.

The 50-year-old then recorded a ton-topping average to account for Dom Taylor, and after fending off a late fightback from his compatriot Daryl Gurney, he won through a gruelling semi-final against Graham Hall.

Dolan punished a tentative start from De Graaf to race into a 3-0 lead in Tuesday’s showpiece, and he maintained his early buffer with 12 and 11-dart holds in legs five and seven.

De Graaf replied with back-to-back legs to cut the deficit to 4-5, but Dolan restored his lead with another 12-darter in leg ten, before converting a clinical 109 checkout in leg 12 to wrap up a landmark victory.

“It’s an absolutely brilliant feeling,” reflected Dolan, who last tasted victory on the PDC ProTour in July 2022.

“All I’ve been thinking about over the last few months is trying to qualify for the World Matchplay and World Grand Prix.

“That’s what I have been striving for, and thankfully I am really close to achieving that now.”

Former World Grand Prix finalist Dolan won his first PDC ranking title in 2013, and having enjoyed more than a decade at the top level, he insists he still has more to give.

“It’s about having the appetite for the game,” continued Dolan, currently ranked 27th on the PDC Order of Merit.

“The talent of the young lads coming through is unbelievable, and it’s actually rejuvenated me.

“There is still plenty left for me to achieve. I’ve been playing at this level for 20 years, and I would still love to be world number one. It may never happen, but I’ll keep trying.

“I would also love to win a TV title and a European Tour event, so that will be my ambition going forward!”

De Graaf – a winner of two Nordic & Baltic ProTour titles in 2024 – continued his strong start to the year to advance to a first ever Players Championship final.

The Dutch-born Swede edged out Mike De Decker, Matt Campbell and Scott Williams in deciding-leg tussles, while also claiming the scalps of Frenchman Thibault Tricole and Polish star Krzysztof Ratajski.

Ratajski made it back-to-back semi-finals with some impressive displays on Tuesday, averaging 102 in victory over Andy Baetens, before defying seven 180s from Stephen Bunting to seal a superb 6-2 success in the last eight.

Hall also broke new ground with a run to his maiden ProTour semi-final, following up a first round whitewash of Chris Landman by dumping out Monday’s winner Michael Smith and Dutch number two Danny Noppert.

Top seed Dave Chisnall produced the performance of the afternoon in Hildesheim, averaging 114 in his first round demolition of Tim Wolters, with Gary Anderson averaging 111 to dispatch Matthew Dennant at the same stage.

Elsewhere, Darryl Pilgrim achieved perfection in the opening leg of his first round clash against Jelle Klaasen – the ninth perfect leg hit on the Players Championship circuit in 2024.

The 2024 PDC ProTour season continues with Players Championships 11-12 in Hildesheim on June 11-12, with coverage broadcast live through PDCTV and bookmakers’ websites worldwide.

2024 Players Championship 10

Tuesday May 7, Halle 39, Hildesheim

Last 16

Daryl Gurney 6-4 Dave Chisnall

Brendan Dolan 6-4 Dom Taylor

Graham Hall 6-3 Michael Smith

Danny Noppert 6-4 Ryan Joyce

Scott Williams 6-5 Karel Sedlacek

Jeffrey de Graaf 6-3 Thibault Tricole

Krzysztof Ratajski 6-2 Richie Burnett

Stephen Bunting 6-2 Gian van Veen

Quarter-Finals

Brendan Dolan 6-4 Daryl Gurney

Graham Hall 6-5 Danny Noppert

Jeffrey de Graaf 6-5 Scott Williams

Krzysztof Ratajski 6-2 Stephen Bunting

Semi-Finals

Brendan Dolan 7-5 Graham Hall

Jeffrey de Graaf 7-5 Krzysztof Ratajski

Final

Brendan Dolan 8-4 Jeffrey de Graaf

Photo credit PDC

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