Rob Cross said ‘words can’t explain it’ after reaching the William Hill World Darts Championship final on his debut at the sport’s blue riband event.
The 27-year-old from St Leonards ended world number one Michael van Gerwen’s reign as champion by winning 6-5 in an epic 11-set semi-final last night (Saturday).
Cross triumphed after a sudden death deciding leg in the final set to set up a showdown against 16-time champion Phil Taylor in the final tomorrow (New Year’s Day) night.
Speaking to Sky Sports immediately after the match, Cross said: “Words can’t explain it, they really can’t. Obviously I’ve lost to Michael a fair few times, but tonight was my turn.
“At a point I felt inexperienced, I really did, but I managed to get through it and I’ll make sure I’m right again for a couple of days.”
Cross has not been able to get the better of van Gerwen in a televised game previously, including losing in October’s European Championship final, but this time came out on top in a nerve-shredding finale to a classic contest which finally concluded after midnight.
“I’m confident in my own ability and I actually think if I come out and play like I can, near my best, then I actually believe I can keep up with Michael every day,” said Cross.
“Obviously there are factors that mean I’ve not been able to do that, but that just comes with being more comfortable. I feel I could be better than I have been, but that comes with being more comfortable.”
Both men won 27 legs and they combined for a semi-final record 31 maximum 180s, but the key stat is the six match darts which van Gerwen missed as he saw his title slip away.
Van Gerwen missed five of those chances in the 10th leg of the final set, allowing Cross to force the sudden death leg, where he punished a further miss from the Dutchman by landing double eight to seal a momentous victory.
“I hate losing, especially in this tournament,” admitted van Gerwen afterwards. “I think I was better than Rob, but on the important moments, I could not bring something extra.
“Missing these doubles was extremely painful. There was nothing I could do about it. He played really well, all credit to him. But I should have won this. I can only blame myself and nobody else.
“Of course he’s a great winner. But I think I deserved to win this match to be quite honest. I had six match darts and normally I don’t miss that many. I’m sick of it.
“I think this is just his year. He had the luck going for him. It’s that simple. Those doubles were so close on the wire. I’m sick about that. Normally that doesn’t happen to me and I’m the only one to blame for it.
“My scoring was good at the right moment, but my doubles let me down. I can only blame myself for that.”
Cross has enjoyed the most spectacular debut year in the sport’s history since turning professional at the start of 2017, winning four Players Championship events and reaching the latter stages of several televised tournaments.
Voltage, as Cross is nicknamed, began the World Championship 20th in the world rankings and is now set to rise into the top six after becoming the first debutant to reach the final for a decade.