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Rob Cross defies Luke Humphries nine-darter to claim Baltic Sea Darts Open title

Jamie Shaw in European Tour 12 May 2024
Rob Cross celebrates (Photo by Jonas Hunold/PDC Europe)

Rob Cross defied a nine-dart finish from Luke Humphries in the final to clinch the Baltic Sea Darts Open title with an 8-6 victory in Kiel on Sunday.

Cross hit back from 5-3 down to seal five of the last six legs and secure his second European Tour title at the Wunderino Arena.

The 2018 World Champion had edged out Masters champion Stephen Bunting 6-5 in a high-quality Last 16 tie, and needed a deciding leg to seal his comeback win over Ritchie Edhouse in the quarter-finals.

He then took out 156 and 126 during his 7-4 semi-final win over Madars Razma, booking a spot in a second European Tour final of 2024 – having seen Luke Littler land a nine-darter on his way to the Belgian Open title in March.

This time, though, it was Cross who would emerge victorious following a high-quality final where the Hastings ace averaged 105.5 to Humphries’ 104.4 to clinch his first PDC ranking title in just under a year.

“To hit back-to-back 12-darters to win was great and I’m happy that I’ve won something – it’s been a while!” said Cross, who defeated Humphries in the European Darts Grand Prix final last May.

“It’s an amazing experience to come up and win something again. I’ve got a new regime at the minute and it’s working. I feel much better, much fresher in the longer days and long may it continue.”

Cross and Humphries have now contested four European Tour finals, with the latter taking two wins in 2022 before the Hastings star claimed glory in Sindelfingen last year.

“Me and Luke always have good games and I really enjoyed it,” added Cross. “He’s number one for a reason – he’s the best player on the planet.

“I like playing Luke and he likes playing me – he’s probably got the upper hand of late. He’s got the world at his feet and we have a great friendship.”

Humphries opened the final with a 13-darter, but Cross remained level after four legs after he posted legs of 14 and 13 darts, before breaking for the first time to punish two missed doubles from the world number one.

Humphries broke back immediately by finishing 68 before an 11-darter moved him 4-3 in front.

Humphries had missed double 12 for a nine-darter in Saturday’s second round win over Sebastian Bialecki, but the final’s eighth leg saw him achieve perfection – to the delight of the packed Kiel crowd.

Cross, though, responded superbly with an 11-darter and then levelled on double five, with Humphries taking out 78 for a 6-5 advantage, only to see two further doubles punished as his rival squared the game on double eight.

Cross then broke with a 12-darter on double eight to move 7-6 ahead, and then sealed victory with another four-visit leg as he took out 100 for the title.

Humphries began Sunday’s action with a 6-4 defeat of Ross Smith, before overcoming Michael van Gerwen in a repeat of their Premier League Night 15 final in Leeds on Thursday – by a 6-3 margin in the quarter-finals.

He then defeated Danny Noppert 7-4 to book his spot in the final, but was denied a seventh European Tour crown.

“I don’t think I did much wrong to be honest,” admitted Humphries, who was runner-up to Dave Chisnall in Kiel last year.

“Rob’s timing was much better than mine. I think that’s our fourth [European Tour final] now and it’s two-all – I’ll get him next time!

“It’s always great to hit a nine-darter; of course I’d always like the winner’s trophy. It’s my second nine-darter and I’ve lost both [games].

“I was really looking forward to playing this weekend and that showed in my performances. I thought I played really good in the final but Rob was even better; he was clinical and that’s what it takes to be a winner.”

Razma, meanwhile, won through to his second European Tour semi-final as he enjoyed a best run of 2024, with the Latvian seeing off Chris Dobey, Dave Chisnall, Joe Cullen and Ryan Searle along the way.

Noppert saw his bid for a second ranking title of 2024 end in a semi-final exit after he overcame Franz Roetzsch and Mike De Decker before being denied by Humphries.

Edhouse reached his second European Tour quarter-final of the year with a clinical Last 16 win over Ricardo Pietreczko, before Cross recovered from 5-3 down to deny him a semi-final spot.

Van Gerwen had taken out 132 to win his Last 16 decider against Andrew Gilding, but the Dutchman was unable to add to his 36 European Tour triumphs as he bowed out at the hands of Humphries.

Belgian ace De Decker defeated Damon Heta to reach his first ranking quarter-final of 2024, while Searle lost out in the Last Eight for the third time on the European Tour this year.

Baltic Sea Darts Open 2024 Day Three Results

Sunday May 12

Afternoon Session

Last 16
Michael van Gerwen 6-5 Andrew Gilding
Luke Humphries 6-4 Ross Smith
Franz Roetzsch 2-6 Danny Noppert
Damon Heta 2-6 Mike De Decker
Ritchie Edhouse 6-3 Ricardo Pietreczko
Rob Cross 6-5 Stephen Bunting
Daryl Gurney 5-6 Ryan Searle
Madars Razma 6-5 Joe Cullen

Evening Session

Michael van Gerwen 3-6 Luke Humphries
Danny Noppert 6-4 Mike De Decker
Ritchie Edhouse 5-6 Rob Cross
Ryan Searle 3-6 Madars Razma

Luke Humphries 7-4 Danny Noppert
Rob Cross 7-4 Madars Razma

Rob Cross 8-6 Luke Humphries – *Humphries hits a nine-darter*

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