Michael van Gerwen survives battle of fittest to retain Dubai Masters darts title
DUBAI // Rarely does darts come down to a game of survival of the fittest, but last night’s Dubai Masters was won by the man who coped best with exhausting conditions at the Tennis Stadium.
He just so happened to be the best in the world, too. Michael van Gerwen finished as the last man standing on a night of high heat and humidity at the Dubai Tennis Stadium, beating Peter Wright 11-7 in the final.
The champion defended his title at the end of a sapping evening when he checked out with a double 16 against a newcomer with whom he has already built a frosty rivalry.
Van Gerwen’s first three darts in the final were a 180 maximum, only for Wright to win the opening leg with a 138 finish.
Neither player hit their top form because of the inclement weather at the only outdoors tournament these players compete in.
“This is the first time I have won a major tournament twice in a row, so it was a special one for me,” Van Gerwen said later.
One of the leading players, Adrian Lewis, reverted to throwing his darts from the flight as he was sweating too much to hold them conventionally by their tungsten barrels.
He was holding the advantage against Van Gerwen in their semi-final at the time, then barely won another leg as he slumped to an 11-7 loss.
“At 5-5 I should have been leading the game,” Lewis said.
“It came to three quarters of the way through the game, we had been out there over an hour and my hands started to sweat. I never usually sweat. I was throwing from the flights at the back of the darts and hoping for the best. I couldn’t feel my darts and it was embarrassing, really.”
The former two-time world champion is planning to step up his tennis-based fitness regime ahead of a tilt at a first Dubai title in 12 months.
“It just shows you have to be fit,” Lewis said. “That is my aim. This time next year when I come out here, I want to be a lot fitter – and not have sweaty hands.”
Both players in the other semi-final were affected by the conditions, as Wright stumbled past Dave Chisnall 11-8 in a dour encounter.
“The darts were slipping out of my hand and I had no control over it,” said Wright, who was pleased to be playing at a tournament that he had watched on TV at home when it was first held last year.
“Dreams can come true. Self-belief can get you anywhere and here I am in the final against the world No 1.”
The defeated Chisnall said: “It was definitely a lot hotter than [on Thursday] night but I’m not blaming the heat.”
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Published: May 31, 2014 04:00 AM