Dafabet US Darts Masters glory for Aspinall

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Nathan Aspinall completed a dream World Series debut with glory in the Dafabet US Darts Masters at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, defeating Michael Smith 8-4 in a superb final.

Aspinall has enjoyed an incredible six months to establish himself amongst the sport’s top stars with a run to the World Championship semi-finals and a maiden TV title at the UK Open in March.

Those successes earned the 27-year-old a place in his first World Series event in Las Vegas, and he scooped the £20,000 title to conclude a brilliant day at the Mandalay Bay.

Aspinall followed up Thursday’s first round win over Shawn Brenneman with a fine 8-5 quarter-final victory against world number two Rob Cross.

He then edged out Peter Wright 8-7 in a tight semi-final – hitting back from two legs behind on three occasions, landing finishes of 161 and 126, before surviving a missed match dart from the Scot in the deciding leg.

Aspinall then saved his best performance for the final, where he overcame Smith in a fast-paced and heavy-scoring contest with a 107 average.

He won the opening leg with a brilliant ten-dart finish, and landed two 180s in the second only to see Smith take out 130 to level.

The next two were also shared before Aspinall finished 70 and 120 to move 4-2 up as he maintained an average of over 111.

Smith took out 118 and 87 to level at four-all, but Aspinall edged the ninth leg on double 18 and pulled clear with checkouts of 85 and 80 and then landed tops to seal a sensational triumph.

“It’s absolutely fantastic for me,” said Aspinall. “I played really well in the semis but the way I started in the final was superb.

“I’ve never had a performance like that on stage and to do it in the final, I’m a very happy man.

“Growing up you want to play in front of the biggest crowds in the biggest arenas in the best countries. The UK Open was massive for me and I wanted to make a good show of myself coming to Las Vegas – it was the top seven players in the world and me!

“To come out on top and win the whole thing is brilliant. I’m enjoying life, loving my darts and reaping the rewards for the hard work I’ve been putting in.

“I’ve had an incredible time in Vegas. The crowd were on my side from the start and gave me brilliant support – and hopefully I’ll be here next year to defend my title.”

Smith opened Friday’s quarter-finals with an 8-6 victory over World Champion Michael van Gerwen and then hit top gear to average 102 in his 8-4 semi-final defeat of Gerwyn Price.

He had been bidding to follow up last July’s Shanghai Darts Masters triumph with a second World Series title, but was overpowered by Aspinall’s super-show in the decider.

“It’s nice to have reached the final but Nathan was too good there,” said Smith. “I was chasing it from the start.

“Nathan played really well but I got myself back into it at four-all and that was my chance. Then my first dart started dropping low and I was chasing trebles.

“I played well against Gerwyn Price in the semi-finals and it was nice to get the win there. I’ve reached the World Championship final, the semi-finals of the UK Open and the final in Las Vegas, so it’s not too bad.”

Price had booked his semi-final spot with a high-quality 8-6 win over reigning US Darts Masters champion Gary Anderson as they met for the first time since the 2018 Grand Slam of Darts final.

Wright came from 5-2 down to defeat Daryl Gurney 8-6 in their last eight contest, but agonisingly missed his chance to reach the final.

The World Series of Darts will continue next weekend with the year’s second international event, as the German Darts Masters takes place at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne.

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