European Tour 7 – Riesa
MENSUR SULJOVIC won his maiden ranking title with a brilliant weekend at the HappyBet International Darts Open, where he overcame Kim Huybrechts 6-5 in an enthralling final.
The Austrian ace followed up nine previous ranking semi-finals by reaching his first final with wins over Dutch pair Jelle Klaasen, Yordi Meeuwisse and England’s James Wilson on Sunday. There, he looked to have thrown away his chance for victory when he saw Huybrechts come from 4-2 down to lead 5-4, before levelling to force a decider.
While Huybrechts was first to a finish, the Belgian missed seven match darts to allow Suljovic back into the leg, and the 44-year-old landed double 16 before dropping to his knees in celebration of his first PDC triumph and a £25,000 prize. “I’m overwhelmed,” said Suljovic. “I can’t believe what happened in the final and for Kim to miss so many match darts, but I’m over the moon to win my first event.”
Huybrechts, who was bidding to win his third PDC European Tour title, landed a 180 as he took the opening leg before Suljovic took the next two to edge 2-1 up. A brilliant 132 bull finish from Huybrechts saw him level, only for Suljovic to finish legs of 13 and 14 darts to move 4-2 up before the Belgian again nailed 132 for a 12-darter.
Huybrechts then finished a 13-darter and double 12 to move 5-4 up with three successive legs, but Suljovic levelled in leg ten before recovering from a shaky start to the deciding leg to snatch a dramatic triumph. Huybrechts had lost only five legs in his previous three games on Sunday as he overcame Robbie Green, Dragutin Horvat and Benito van de Pas, but had to settle for the £10,000 runner-up prize.
Wilson knocked out Terry Jenkins and Andy Boulton on Sunday as he won through to the semi-finals of a third successive ranking event, and his first last four appearance on the European Tour stage. Van de Pas, meanwhile, was bidding to go one better than in his previous visit to Riesa in 2015, when he was the runner-up to Michael Smith, only to lose out to Huybrechts in their repeat of last year’s semi-final.
Host Nation Qualifier Horvat became only the second German player to reach a European Tour quarter-final – after Max Hopp in Hamburg earlier this year – as he overcame Ian White 6-4 in a third round with a brilliant display. Scottish-based Boulton and Dutchman Meeuwisse also reached a European Tour quarter-final for the first time, while Australian ace Simon Whitlock joined them in the last eight with a superb 6-3 third round defeat of Peter Wright.
Wright’s top ten rivals Robert Thornton, Dave Chisnall and Jelle Klaasen also lost out in the third round, alongside newcomer Ryan Meikle, Jenkins, White and Green. Suljovic’s victory also puts him in line to claim a place in November’s SINGHA Beer Grand Slam of Darts in Wolverhampton, while he moves up to 14th on the PDC Order of Merit.
The weekend also saw a German record crowd for the European Tour of over 3,500 fans attend Saturday’s evening session in the first of three successive events to be held this month. Next weekend sees the HappyBet European Darts Trophy take place at the RWE Arena in Muelheim before the HappyBet European Darts Grand Prix is held from September 16-18 at the Glaspalast in Sindelfingen.
Sunday September 4th
Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm local time, 12pm-4pm BST)
94.84 Ryan Meikle 2-6 Yordi Meeuwisse 100.49
90.41 Jelle Klaasen 5-6 Mensur Suljovic 98.14
93.58 James Wilson 6-4 Terry Jenkins 88.20
104.59 Dave Chisnall 5-6 Andy Boulton 98.15
107.19 Peter Wright 3-6 Simon Whitlock 103.30
90.66 Benito van de Pas 6-2 Robert Thornton 78.02
101.33 Ian White 4-6 Dragutin Horvat 99.41
93.12 Kim Huybrechts 6-2 Robbie Green 81.47
Evening Session (7pm-11pm local time, 6pm-10pm BST)
89.58 Yordi Meeuwisse 1-6 Mensur Suljovic 98.54
93.56 James Wilson 6-1 Andy Boulton 84.67
94.38 Simon Whitlock 5-6 Benito van de Pas 90.57
86.97 Dragutin Horvat 1-6 Kim Huybrechts 100.75
96.87 Mensur Suljovic 6-1 James Wilson 86.48
94.96 Benito van de Pas 2-6 Kim Huybrechts 95.95
95.15 Mensur Suljovic 6-5 Kim Huybrechts 93.89
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