Number one seed Michael van Gerwen held off England’s Michael Smith to win a third PDC World Championship title with a 7-3 victory at Alexandra Palace.
The Dutchman, 29, raced into a 4-0 lead before 10th seed Smith whipped the home crowd into a frenzy by winning five successive legs to make it 4-2.
After Van Gerwen silenced the crowd in the seventh, Smith missed two crucial set-winning checkouts in the eighth.
Smith, who was appearing in his first final and whose previous best was the last eight in 2016, paid for a nervous start and failed to make Van Gerwen pay when the Dutchman faltered.
That was no more evident in the eighth set when 28-year-old Smith, who will marry his fiance this Saturday, missed a double five that could have added pressure to his opponent.
Smith did not buckle as he dragged it back to 6-3, but Van Gerwen finally shook off the dogged Englishman from St Helens.
Van Gerwen’s three-dart average in the final was 102.21, which was down on his 103.28 for the tournament, but his 14 maximums and greater experience told in the crucial moments.
“I guarantee I will win this trophy one day.”
Michael Smith reflects on his 7-3 defeat to Michael van Gerwen… pic.twitter.com/SGhNxQiCJF
— PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC) 1 January 2019
“I was a little bit nervous but my body was pumping and I wanted to play better – but Michael is a phenomenal player,” Van Gerwen told Sky Sports. “It was a difficult match, but it doesn’t matter how you win.
“He always makes it hard for me, he is a good player and one day he will lift this trophy.”
“I didn’t get going,” said Smith. “I had the chances, and I was more annoyed myself for losing those chances.
“I kept looking at the trophy and thinking it belongs to me, so I maybe I tried too much.
“It’s my first final but it won’t be my last – I will lift that trophy.
“If Michael was going to win he was going to have to work for it. I was following up his scores then he dropped off and I did too. I’m sorry I didn’t put on a show.”
Source: BBC Sport