De Sousa & Wade reach BoyleSports Grand Slam final

Jose De Sousa and James Wade will face off in the BoyleSports Grand Slam of Darts final on Tuesday night, after winning through two captivating last four clashes in Coventry.

De Sousa’s incredible Grand Slam debut will see the Portuguese ace compete in Tuesday’s final after he enjoyed a brilliant 16-12 win over Simon Whitlock.

The 46-year-old has been on the PDC circuit for less than two years, but has followed up three ranking titles by reaching his first televised final at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena this week.

De Sousa’s superb form continued as he ended Whitlock’s hopes of a second TV title, 24 hours after the Australian had knocked world number one Michael van Gerwen out of the event.

Whitlock held an early 2-0 lead and extended that to 5-2 in an opening which included two 12-dart legs, only for De Sousa to kick-start his challenge with seven perfect darts in leg eight.

He took that leg to spark a run of six legs out of seven as he moved ahead for the first time at 8-6, levelling the tie with a showpiece 92 finish which featured two double 18s.

Whitlock levelled after 16 legs, but De Sousa edged away one more with a brace of 121 checkouts and a 99 finish which included two double tops as he moved into a 15-11 advantage.

Whitlock punished five missed match darts from his rival to keep his hopes alive, but the Australian was unable to land tops in the next leg as De Sousa finished double 16 to seal a place in Tuesday’s final.

“This a feeling I cannot describe – my best moment in darts,” said De Sousa. “It’s a dream come true and I feel like my heart will explode – it’s amazing.

“I didn’t expect this but I fought in every leg, today my doubles went in and I deserve this. It’s wonderful and it means a lot.”

De Sousa, who hails from Portugal but now lives near Madrid, left his job as a carpenter fitting kitchens when he won a PDC Tour Card last year, and is now on the verge of winning a £125,000 title and the Eric Bristow Trophy.

“I’m really happy for my fans and everyone who’s backed me, my sponsors and my manager,” he said. “I left my job last year and this year I’m really happy to make a place in the PDC, I’ve worked so hard.

“This year has been difficult for everybody and it’s not easy – in two months I’ve had three days in my home. But all the people in Portugal and Spain have supported me and I’m very proud.”

Wade, meanwhile, booked his place in a third Grand Slam final with a courageous 16-15 comeback victory over Dimitri Van den Bergh, surviving one missed match dart from the World Matchplay champion.

Van den Bergh opened the semi-final with a brilliant 160 finish and punished early missed doubles from Wade, pictured, to open up a 5-1 lead.

A high-quality contest then saw the pair hold throw for 12 legs – of which 11 were won in 15 darts or less – before Wade broke in leg 18 and then pinned double ten to cut the gap to 10-9.

Van den Bergh hit back, then broke back with a 76 finish and produced an 11-darter as he pulled out to 13-9, only for Wade to then take four of the next five to level at 14-all.

Van den Bergh posted a 14-darter to move a leg away from victory, but missed a dart at the bull for victory in leg 30 as Wade finished double six to stay in the game.

He then opened the deciding leg with scores of 140 and 180 before taking out 76 for a 12-darter to progress to the final as the winning dart put him ahead for the first time in the game.

“I’m unbelievably happy,” said Wade. “I’m buzzing – I used to feel like this many years ago and I haven’t felt like this for a long time.

“It hasn’t happened for me at times but at the moment I’m pushing forward, and I really am happy to win. It means a lot to me.

“I was so poor to start off and I missed quite a lot of finishes. I probably should have lost that game, Dimitri was the better player, he didn’t buckle or back down, but I did enough to win.

“I was beaten and then I wasn’t beaten. I was making it hard for myself when it shouldn’t have been that hard – I thought I out-played him for the first ten legs.

“I thought I’d blown it when I got back to 14-all and had a poor leg, but in that last leg I was so determined. Now that I’m in the final, I’m going to relax and enjoy myself.”

Wade goes into the final as the 4/5 favourite with sponsors BoyleSports, with De Sousa rated at Evens to lift the Eric Bristow Trophy.

“Jose is phenomenal,” added Wade. “I don’t think he cares what he’s doing or how he’s doing it, he enjoys darts and is a big scorer and a great finisher – but I’m not bad!”

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