Suljovic celebrates his hometown success (credit:Lukas Charwat/PDC Europe)
Mensur Suljovic secured his first PDC ranking title on Austrian soil with a breath-taking 8-7 win over Michael van Gerwen in the final of the 2019 Austrian Championship.
Suljovic, Austria’s most decorated darter, enjoyed one of the most memorable nights of his career as he came from 6-3 down to deny his nemesis MVG and claim a hometown triumph in Vienna.
The world number nine thrilled a packed crowd at the Multiversum Schwechat to clinch the £25,000 top prize – his first PDC title of the season and sixth in total.
“This is the best win of my career,” admitted 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.”
Suljovic began the day by defeating a resurgent James Wilson 6-2 with a 102 average in the Last 16, before dispatching number two seed Ian White 6-4 with a 98.7 average.
The former Champions League of Darts winner then ended the run of Vincent van der Voort in the Semi-Finals with a 7-4 victory and a second 98.7 average of the evening.
Van Gerwen, who was bidding for a third consecutive PDC title and a fifth Euro Tour triumph of the season, began the final brightly by establishing a 2-0 lead with a 92 checkout.
Suljovic soon found his range to level up in the early stages, before Van Gerwen produced a ruthless ten-darter to regain the upper-hand.
The world number one re-established a two-leg cushion at 5-3 before taking out 72 to extend his lead and silence the partisan Austrian crowd.
Suljovic, however, landed double one to claim a scrappy tenth leg before producing a superb 121 checkout on the bullseye to continue the fightback.
He then took out 86 to get back on level terms before missing double 15 for a 150 checkout, allowing Van Gerwen back to hit double 16 to move within a leg of victory at 7-6.
Suljovic, though, held throw with double ten to force a decider, and despite a timely 180, Van Gerwen missed a match dart at the bull and ‘The Gentle’ pounced to take out 70 and seal the win.
Van Gerwen, who suffered his second Euro Tour final defeat of the year, admitted: “Full credit to Mensur, it’s nice for him to win in front of his home crowd.
“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.”
Van Gerwen saw off Dutch compatriot Jeffrey de Zwaan 6-3 in the Last 16 before whitewashing Ricky Evans with a 106 average and six from nine on the doubles in the Quarter-Finals.
The World Champion then secured his place in the final with a narrow 7-6 win over Peter Wright despite a record ten 180s and an average of 103.5 from the Scot.
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 eventually losing 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.
Austrian Darts Championship 2019 Results
Sunday September 1
Gerwyn Price 1-6 Vincent van der Voort
Adrian Lewis 2-6 Cameron Menzies
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
Dave Chisnall 3-6 Ricky Evans
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Jeffrey de Zwaan
Cameron Menzies 4-6 Vincent van der Voort
Ian White 4-6 Mensur Suljovic
Peter Wright 6-5 Rowby-John Rodriguez
Michael van Gerwen 6-0 Ricky Evans
Vincent van der Voort 4-7 Mensur Suljovic
Peter Wright 6-7 Michael van Gerwen
Mensur Suljovic 8-7 Michael van Gerwen