Hopp creates history with German Darts Open win

Max Hopp created history as he won his first PDC European Tour title with a dramatic deciding-leg victory over Michael Smith to take the German Darts Open title in Saarbrucken.

 

In a fairy-tale run, the 2015 PDC Unicorn World Youth Champion overcame three Unibet Premier League stars on his way to the £25,000 first prize as he claimed his first senior title.

                                                                              

With over 3,000 home fans cheering him to victory, the young German dug deep and produced some dramatic finishing to secure an incredible comeback win in a historic moment for the sport.

 

The 21-year-old, who came through Thursday’s Host Nation Qualifiers to be in the event, started his campaign with a convincing victory over Zoran Lerchbacher in round one, and then saw off reigning champion Peter Wright on Saturday.

 

On the final day, he came through a gruelling encounter with 2017 Saarbrucken finalist Benito van de Pas, squeezed past Joe Cullen and then beat reigning World Champion Rob Cross with a stunning 121 checkout in their decider to reach the final.

 

He was then to repeat that trick when the pressure was at its highest to secure his first senior PDC title in a significant triumph.

 

In a truly gripping final, the young German looked to be running out of steam as he trailed Smith for large parts.

 

An early break of throw saw Smith race into a 3-0 lead, before Hopp began to wake up with a 13-darter to get a foothold in the game.

 

With legs continuing to go with throw, Smith looked to be walking towards a fifth European Tour title as he kept Hopp, and the home crowd, at bay as he moved 6-4 ahead.

 

Hopp then seized the advantage in the 11th leg as he broke back with a 14-darter to move to within one at 6-5, and matched that in the next to level the contest.

 

A shaky leg then saw him hand the initiative back to Smith, as despite missing the bull for a 170 checkout he saw the Premier League star move onto the brink of the title.

 

The opportunity for a 121 checkout presented itself once more to Hopp to level, and despite missing the bull he cleaned up the 25 to force a decider.

 

There was no missing the bull the next time around as the young German sparked pandemonium in the Saarlandhalle as he took out the 121 on the middle double to snatch the title in incredible fashion.

 

The win is a landmark moment for Germany’s number one and a watershed moment for darts in his home country – having not reached the semi-finals of a senior PDC event previously, Hopp becomes the first German to win a PDC ranking event.

 

He has now also all but secured his place in the BetVictor World Matchplay for the first time, as well as a place in the Unibet World Grand Prix and Unibet European Championship.

 

It was an enthralling final day of action in the German Darts Open, starting with Michael van Gerwen being given a scare as he recovered from 4-1 down to beat Alan Tabern 6-4 in round three.

 

But the tournament was to then be blown wide open in the quarter-finals as the world number one crashed out in dramatic fashion at the hands of Ian White in a 6-2 defeat.

 

It was one of the performances of the competition from White as he backed up his whitewash of Dave Chisnall in the third round by averaging 105.92 and landing six of his seven double attempts to end Van Gerwen’s bid for a third European Tour win of 2018.

 

White’s run was then abruptly brought to an end in a 7-1 defeat in the semi-finals by Smith, who averaged an incredible 107.24 and landed 78% of his doubles in his finest display of the competition.

 

Smith had earlier beaten Jelle Klaasen and Mervyn King to reach the last four.

 

World Champion Cross, still on the hunt for his first European Tour title, also looked in good form on the final day.

 

He started with a comfortable win over Darren Webster, before brushing aside Gerwyn Price with a 105 average.

 

But he ran into a resilient Hopp as the youngster, buoyed by the home crowd, put in arguably his best display of the competition, averaging over 100, landing five maximums and taking out checkouts of 120 and 121 to win a thriller 7-6.

 

The PDC European Tour continues from April 20-22 with the Austrian Darts Open in Premstatten, Graz as 48 players compete for £135,000 in prize money.

 

Coverage will be streamed for PDCTV-HD Subscribers worldwide through www.pdc.tv, and through a series of bookmakers’ websites.

 

2018 German Darts Open

Sunday April 15

Afternoon Session

Third Round

Michael van Gerwen 6-4 Alan Tabern

Ian White 6-0 Dave Chisnall

Mervyn King 6-5 Daryl Gurney

Michael Smith 6-3 Jelle Klaasen

Max Hopp 6-4 Benito van de Pas

Joe Cullen 6-2 Daniel Larsson

Gerwyn Price 6-5 Mensur Suljovic

Rob Cross 6-4 Darren Webster

 

Evening Session

Quarter-Finals

Ian White 6-2 Michael van Gerwen

Michael Smith 6-5 Mervyn King

Max Hopp 6-4 Joe Cullen

Rob Cross 6-1 Gerwyn Price

 

Semi-Finals

Michael Smith 7-1 Ian White

Max Hopp 7-6 Rob Cross

 

Final

Max Hopp 8-7 Michael Smith

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