Van Gerwen beat Lewis for the third time in the space of two weeks (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)
Michael van Gerwen recorded the second nine-dart finish in the history of the Players Championship Finals on the way to a thrilling last-leg win over Adrian Lewis on Saturday afternoon.
The world number one ended the 12-month wait for a televised nine-darter as he fired in 180, 177 and then finished 144 to complete the sport’s holy grail.
Van Gerwen had earlier overturned a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead in their second round tie, with Lewis hitting back in leg seven before the Dutchman’s moment of perfect in leg eight opened up a 5-3 advantage.
Lewis battled back bravely to force a deciding leg, but Van Gerwen took out 72 to progress to the Last 16 and remain on course for a fifth Players Championship Finals title.
“The nine-darter is always nice,” said Van Gerwen. “Adrian was pushing me and put me under pressure, so you have to do the right things at the right moments.
“It’s only one leg and I’ve got to be better tonight, because if you give the other guys a finger they take your whole hand and you can’t afford any mistakes.”
Alan Norris had been the only player previously in the event to achieve a nine-darter, with his achievement coming on Stage Two in the 2016 tournament.
Van Gerwen’s perfect leg was the 47th in a PDC event so far in 2019, but the first in a televised event since the 2018 Grand Slam of Darts, when Dimitri Van den Bergh enjoyed a moment of perfection.
The Dutchman will receive no additional prize money bonus after the rolling prize fund for TV nine-darters was scrapped at the beginning of the season.
Van Gerwen will now face James Wade – who swept past Ricky Evans with a 6-1 victory in their Last 32 encounter.