Home hero Mensur Suljovic took glory in the Austrian Darts Championship in Vienna with a rousing comeback from 6-3 down to win Sunday’s final against Michael van Gerwen 8-7.
Having never previously won a stage match in his home city, the Austrian number one rose to the challenge as he claimed his third PDC European Tour title, scooping a £25,000 top prize at the Multiversum Schwechat.
Van Gerwen played his part in a hugely entertaining final, taking a 2-0 lead and then landing a brilliant ten-darter as he moved 3-2 up.
Suljovic capitalised on three missed doubles to level in leg six, only for Van Gerwen to take the next three as he moved 6-3 up.
Four missed doubles in leg ten from the World Champion allowed Suljovic to hit back, and he then took out 121 and 86 to delight the Vienna crowd by pulling level.
A miss at double 15 for a 150 checkout in the next from the Austrian allowed Van Gerwen to move a leg away from the title at 7-6, with Suljovic then taking the game to a decider by holding throw in leg 14.
A timely 180 from Van Gerwen saw him be the first to a finish in the final leg, but he missed the bull to take out 84 before Suljovic checked out 70 on his favoured double 14 to claim a momentous victory.
Suljovic had earlier enjoyed wins over James Wilson, Ian White and Vincent van der Voort to move into the final, before becoming only the sixth player to win three or more European Tour titles.
“This is the best win of my career,” said Suljovic. “It’s the first time I’ve ever won a game on stage in Vienna and I won the event – it’s absolutely brilliant.
“Michael is the number one, but in the four-week holiday I’ve practiced every day and I was hungry. To win a European Tour event in my city is amazing, my biggest win.”
Van Gerwen, meanwhile, followed up Saturday’s victory over Kyle Anderson with defeats of Jeffrey de Zwaan, Ricky Evans and Peter Wright to reach the final.
Van Gerwen’s 6-3 third round defeat of De Zwaan was followed by a nine-minute whitewash of Evans in the quarter-finals, before he edged out Peter Wright 7-6 in the semi-finals, taking the deciding leg with a 13-darter.
However, he would lose out to a 14-darter in the deciding leg against Suljovic in the final, with Van Gerwen left frustrated after failing to close out the win.
“Full credit to Mensur, it’s nice for him to win in front of his home crowd,” said Van Gerwen. “He kept fighting but I didn’t do enough with this game.
“If you’re 6-3 up and have a chance to make it 7-3, I can only blame myself. I need to be critical of myself and I’m disappointed.”
Wright had won through to his fourth European Tour semi-final of the year with wins over Joe Cullen and Rowby-John Rodriguez, which both went to a deciding leg, before he went down in the same manner to Van Gerwen despite landing ten 180s.
Van der Voort’s wins over Gerwyn Price and Cameron Menzies moved the Dutchman into his first semi-final on the circuit for over three years before he lost out to Suljovic.
Menzies, the current Challenge Tour Order of Merit leader, followed up wins over Kevin Munch and Michael Smith on the opening two days with a memorable 6-2 third round defeat of Adrian Lewis.
The Scot picked up his first prize money on the main PDC Order of Merit with £5,000 won as he reached his first European Tour quarter-final.
Rodriguez’s narrow 6-5 win over Mike De Decker saw him reach his first quarter-final on the European Tour for almost four years, but the Vienna favourite was unable to progress further as Wright ended his hopes.
White and Evans also reached the quarter-finals as they saw off Keegan Brown and Dave Chisnall respectively in round three.
The PDC European Tour continues next weekend with the European Darts Matchplay in Mannheim, Germany, with coverage to be streamed through video.pdc.tv and bookmakers’ websites worldwide. For tickets, visit www.pdc-europe.tv/tickets.
2019 Austrian Darts Championship
Sunday September 1
Vincent van der Voort 6-1 Gerwyn Price
Cameron Menzies 6-2 Adrian Lewis
Mensur Suljovic 6-2 James Wilson
Ian White 6-2 Keegan Brown
Rowby-John Rodriguez 6-5 Mike De Decker
Peter Wright 6-5 Joe Cullen
Ricky Evans 6-3 Dave Chisnall
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Jeffrey de Zwaan
Vincent van der Voort 6-4 Cameron Menzies
Mensur Suljovic 6-4 Ian White
Peter Wright 6-5 Rowby-John Rodriguez
Michael van Gerwen 6-0 Ricky Evans
Mensur Suljovic 7-4 Vincent van der Voort
Michael van Gerwen 7-6 Peter Wright
Mensur Suljovic 8-7 Michael van Gerwen