Rob Cross: Nice to win after 18 months which has probably been hardest time of my life
Rob Cross revealed his Cazoo European Championship triumph came after the most difficult year-and-a-half of his life.
His night’s triumph in the Austrian city of Salzburg ended the St Leonards-based player’s two-year wait for a Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) title.
Since then, Cross - 2018 world champion and 2019 World Matchplay winner - has endured a loss of form and suffered the heartbreak of losing his grandad at the start of the pandemic.
The 31-year-old faced the prospect of falling outside the top 20 on the PDC order of merit if he failed to reach the latter stages in Austria, but the victory left him 11th.
Cross said: “It’s nice to win again after the last 18 months, which has probably been the hardest time of my life.
“I have to dedicate this to my family, friends, management and sponsors who have stood by me and been incredibly supportive.
“I love playing in Austria, I’ve got a great record here. I love the people, I’d play here every week if I could.”
The win, which came with a cheque for £120,000, also secured a place in next month’s Cazoo Grand Slam of Darts and Cross is hoping it will be the springboard for further success.
He added: “I think this is going to be a turning point for me. With the confidence this is going to give me, I know I’m going to get better over the next few months. I would love to win another World Championship.”
Victory in an event screened live on ITV4 was Cross’s fifth televised title and first since winning the same event in 2019.
Cross returned to the winner’s circle by defeating world number three Michael van Gerwen 11-8 in Sunday night’s final.
Van Gerwen was made to pay for 27 missed attempts at a double in the Austrian city of Salzburg as Cross took his chances to come out on top.
Cross admitted: “Granted, I didn’t play my best tonight and I’m thankful that Michael wasn’t himself in the final. You have to take chances when they are presented to you.”
The match was a repeat of the 2017 final, which was won by Van Gerwen, but this time Cross landed the first break of throw with a 123 finish on the bullseye to lead 3-2.
Although four-time European champion Van Gerwen hit straight back with a 138 checkout, Cross claimed six of the next seven legs in a burst which proved key to the final outcome.
He established a two-leg lead for the first time at 5-3 and from 6-4 up at the second break, Cross reeled off three in a row, starting with a 13-dart break in leg 11, to lead 9-4.
His Dutch opponent replied with three straight legs to make it 9-7 only to then squander five darts at doubles in the next leg, allowing Cross to move within one of glory.
Cross missed a match dart at double top for a 107 outshot as Van Gerwen pulled a leg back, but produced a brilliant 11-dart leg, sealed by finishing 81 in two darts, to complete victory.
Cross won five matches in all across the championship’s four days, the last three of them on Sunday.
Cross thrashed 14th-ranked Joe Cullen 11-3 in the semi-finals on Sunday evening after remarkably racing into a 9-0 lead.
Before that, he defeated Portuguese world number seven Jose de Sousa 10-5 in the quarter-finals.
Cross had earlier beaten Brendan Dolanand Keane Barry 6-3.
Fellow local player Ritchie Edhouse produced a valiant effort, but was beaten 6-2 by world champion Gerwyn Price.