Premier League newcomer Nathan Aspinall admits his debut campaign has been the ‘hardest mental test’ of his career so far.
Aspinall secured a coveted spot in the Unibet Premier League courtesy of his UK Open and U.S Masters triumphs last year and has enjoyed a superb season so far.
The Stockport star occupies third spot in the league table with just three nights of action remaining before the cut off for the play-offs next month.
Aspinall has held a top four spot for ten of the 13 league nights so far and is one point clear of defending champion Michael van Gerwen in fifth.
Despite late trouble on the doubles, ‘The Asp’ held on to clinch a crucial 8-6 victory over Gerwyn Price on Wednesday, and afterwards spoke of the mental resilience required to succeed in this long-haul competition.
“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, mentally, in my life,” admitted Aspinall. “It’s so hard.
“I want to win it, I want to be in the top four and I want to beat the best players in the world.
“This last seven days, people can’t understand how hard it is for us guys, it’s mentally draining.
“It’s not the hardest job in the world, but mentally, day in, day out on that stage you have to perform to the best of your ability and it’s tough.
“It just means so much to me, it’s a long time away from the family and it’s mentally challenging.
“I’m certainly getting my money’s worth, I think I’ve played nearly every leg possible over the last week!”
The 29-year-old has been involved in numerous close-run contests in Milton Keynes, with each of his last six games having gone the distance.
He boasts a tournament average of 98.4 and is now odds-on with the bookmakers to secure a place on finals night, which is scheduled to be held at London’s O2 Arena.
Aspinall added: “I needed that win [against Price] after a disappointing three days.
“I didn’t perform to my best against Michael [Smith] and I felt like I should have beaten Van Gerwen.
“It was important to come back and get two points to keep me in the run-in for the top four.
“You can’t celebrate too much because there’s another tough game the next day but I think if I can beat Peter [Wright] – I’m nearly there.
“I really want to do it, I believe I’ve got the game to do it and I think the way I’ve performed this year, I’ve played well enough to make the top four.
“If I could do it in my debut year, I’d be very happy, then it’s all down to one night.
“If I wasn’t to make it, it’s still been a great first Premier League and all I’ll take is positives from it.”
Nathan Aspinall claimed his second PDC ranking title of 2020 at Players Championship Seven with an 8-4 victory over Brendan Dolan in the final in Barnsley on Saturday.
The world number seven, who triumphed at Players Championship Two last month, continued his blistering run of form to reel off six consecutive legs and overpower Dolan in the final.
Dolan looked to be heading for his third ranking title since last August as he forged a 4-2 lead, but only for ‘The Asp’ to produce a stunning surge to seal the £10,000 title.
“I played steady at times and not so well at others but I’m really happy,” admitted Aspinall.
“I’m full of confidence and was determined to have a good run this weekend.
“I know what I can produce and I know how good I am and there is no reason why I can’t win more titles.
“The other half is booking our wedding soon so I need the money!”
Aspinall began his run by defeating Alan Tabern 6-3 before dispatching Geert Nentjes 6-4 and averaging 104.3 in a 6-3 defeat of Chris Dobey.
The 2019 UK Open champion then averaged 102.6 in seeing off Vincent van der Voort 6-2 before thrashing a below-par Michael van Gerwen 6-1 in the Quarter-Finals with a 93.2 average to the Dutchman’s 87.
The Stockport star raised his game considerably in the Semi-Finals, averaging 105.5 in a commanding 7-3 win over Danny Noppert – who averaged 103 in a high quality contest.
Aspinall took the opening leg of the final before Dolan responded with three in a row and maintained a two-leg cushion at 4-2.
Aspinall held throw in leg seven before following up a 180 with a magnificent 136 checkout to break and level the match.
A third 180 and a 90 checkout handed ‘The Asp’ the lead, and after Dolan missed three darts at doubles, Aspinall landed double two to make it 6-4.
Aspinall continued the turnaround by clinching leg 11 before converting a blocked double ten to wrap up victory.
Dolan began the day by averaging 107 in a 6-4 win over Adrian Gray and went on to defeat the likes of Dave Chisnall and James Wade en route to the final, landing checkouts of 170 and 146 against the latter.
Elsewhere, Derk Telnekes reached his first Quarter-Final since joining the PDC in January, notably thrashing World Champion Peter Wright 6-1 in the Last 16 before bowing out to Dolan in a deciding leg.
Wade reached his first Semi-Final of the season with four consecutive ton-plus averages along the way in wins over Mickey Mansell, Andrew Gilding, Glen Durrant and Ian White.
Sunday sees the 128-man field return to action for Players Championship Eight, with Krzysztof Ratajski withdrawing from the event in order to return to Poland due to travel restrictions.
Saturday March 14
Michael van Gerwen 6-4 Damon Heta
Brian Raman 6-4 Steve West
John Henderson 6-5 Scott Baker
Jelle Klaasen 6-3 Ross Smith
Jermaine Wattimena 6-4 Darren Penhall
Scott Waites 6-1 Joe Murnan
Toni Alcinas 6-5 Steve Beaton
Vincent Van der Meer 6-5 Andy Boulton
Nathan Aspinall 6-3 Alan Tabern
Geert Nentjes 6-1 Jamie Lewis
Chris Dobey 6-3 David Pallett
Conan Whitehead 6-3 Barrie Bates
Martijn Kleermaker 6-1 Joe Cullen
Wesley Harms 6-3 Gary Blades
Vincent van der Voort 6-4 Steve Lennon
Kyle Anderson 6-3 Callan Rydz
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-4 Jan Dekker
Robert Collins 6-4 Cristo Reyes
Jesus Noguera 6-4 Justin Pipe
William Borland 6-5 Darren Webster
Michael Smith 6-3 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Benito van de Pas 6-4 Maik Kuivenhoven
Keegan Brown 6-1 Darius Labanauskas
Luke Humphries 6-2 Mark McGeeney
Daryl Gurney 6-1 Wayne Jones
Steffen Siepmann 6-5 Mike van Duivenbode
Jason Lowe 6-2 Mervyn King
Luke Woodhouse 6-4 Stu Wilson
Rob Cross 6-2 Peter Jacques
Nick Kenny 6-1 Jitse Van der Wal
Danny Noppert 6-5 Matthew Edgar
Ted Evetts 6-2 Ron Meulenkamp
Ian White 6-2 Jeff Smith
Kim Huybrechts 6-3 Josh Payne
William O’Connor 6-5 Graham Usher
Mike De Decker 6-3 Aaron Beeney
Jeffrey De Zwaan 6-0 Carl Wilkinson
Simon Stevenson 6-2 James Hubbard
Devon Petersen 6-2 Jose De Sousa
Kai Fan Leung 6-3 James Wilson
James Wade 6-3 Reece Robinson
Mickey Mansell 6-4 Jonathan Worsley
Lisa Ashton 6-2 Gabriel Clemens
Andrew Gilding 6-3 Harry Ward
Glen Durrant 6-4 Scott Mitchell
Robert Thornton 6-4 Ryan Joyce
Madars Razma 6-5 Simon Whitlock
Adam Huckvale 6-1 Gavin Carlin
Peter Wright 6-3 Nathan Derry
Arjan Konterman 6-2 Kirk Shepherd
Eddie Lovely 6-5 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Adam Hunt 6-4 Marko Kantele
Scott Taylor 6-5 Jonny Clayton
Derk Telnekes 6-0 Michael Barnard
Gary Anderson 6-0 Stephen Bunting
Rowby-John Rodriguez 6-5 Bradley Brooks
Dave Chisnall 6-2 Steve Brown
Richard North 6-3 Martin Schindler
Ricky Evans 6-4 Ryan Murray
Ryan Meikle 6-4 Andy Hamilton
Jamie Hughes 6-4 Ryan Searle
Ciaran Teehan 6-3 Christian Bunse
Brendan Dolan 6-4 Adrian Gray
Niels Zonneveld 6-5 Krzysztof Kciuk
Michael van Gerwen 6-2 Brian Raman
John Henderson 6-4 Jelle Klaasen
Jermaine Wattimena 6-5 Scott Waites
Vincent Van der Meer 6-0 Toni Alcinas
Nathan Aspinall 6-4 Geert Nentjes
Chris Dobey 6-5 Conan Whitehead
Martijn Kleermaker 6-2 Wesley Harms
Vincent van der Voort 6-3 Kyle Anderson
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-4 Robert Collins
William Borland 6-4 Jesus Noguera
Michael Smith 6-5 Benito van de Pas
Luke Humphries 6-3 Keegan Brown
Daryl Gurney 6-5 Steffen Siepmann
Jason Lowe 6-2 Luke Woodhouse
Rob Cross 6-1 Nick Kenny
Danny Noppert 6-5 Ted Evetts
Ian White 6-5 Kim Huybrechts
William O’Connor 6-5 Mike De Decker
Simon Stevenson 6-5 Jeffrey De Zwaan
Kai Fan Leung 6-4 Devon Petersen
James Wade 6-0 Mickey Mansell
Andrew Gilding 6-5 Lisa Ashton
Glen Durrant 6-5 Robert Thornton
Madars Razma 6-2 Adam Huckvale
Peter Wright 6-2 Arjan Konterman
Eddie Lovely 6-4 Adam Hunt
Derk Telnekes 6-4 Scott Taylor
Gary Anderson 6-4 Rowby-John Rodriguez
Dave Chisnall 6-5 Richard North
Ricky Evans 6-5 Ryan Meikle
Ciaran Teehan 6-3 Jamie Hughes
Brendan Dolan 6-4 Niels Zonneveld
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 John Henderson
Jermaine Wattimena 6-5 Vincent Van der Meer
Nathan Aspinall 6-3 Chris Dobey
Vincent van der Voort 6-3 Martijn Kleermaker
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-2 William Borland
Luke Humphries 6-3 Michael Smith
Daryl Gurney 6-1 Jason Lowe
Danny Noppert 6-5 Rob Cross
Ian White 6-3 William O’Connor
Kai Fan Leung 6-5 Simon Stevenson
James Wade 6-5 Andrew Gilding
Glen Durrant 6-4 Madars Razma
Peter Wright 6-2 Eddie Lovely
Derk Telnekes 6-3 Gary Anderson
Dave Chisnall 6-5 Ricky Evans
Brendan Dolan 6-4 Ciaran Teehan
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Jermaine Wattimena
Nathan Aspinall 6-2 Vincent van der Voort
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-5 Luke Humphries
Danny Noppert 6-0 Daryl Gurney
Ian White 6-1 Kai Fan Leung
James Wade 6-2 Glen Durrant
Derk Telnekes 6-1 Peter Wright
Brendan Dolan 6-2 Dave Chisnall
Nathan Aspinall 6-1 Michael van Gerwen
Danny Noppert 6-2 Krzysztof Ratajski
James Wade 6-5 Ian White
Brendan Dolan 6-5 Derk Telnekes
Nathan Aspinall 7-3 Danny Noppert
Brendan Dolan 7-1 James Wade
Nathan Aspinall 8-4 Brendan Dolan
Nathan Aspinall produced a scintillating set of displays to clinch the second Players Championship title of the season in Barnsley, defeating Gerwyn Price 8-2 in the final.
The world number eight landed a nine-dart finish and a 117.5 average in a blistering Quarter-Final win over Peter Wright on his way to capturing a fourth PDC title.
An incredible contest between Aspinall and Wright produced a combined average of 115.59 – the highest combined match average recorded in PDC history.
Aspinall began the day by thrashing Carl Wilkinson 6-1 before dispatching Peter Jacques 6-4 and recovering from 5-3 down to defeat Keegan Brown 6-5 in the Last 32.
He then saw off veteran Jason Lowe 6-3 before a jaw-dropping display to defeat World Champion Wright – who averaged 113.7 – sealing the deal with a 137 checkout.
Aspinall sealed his spot in the final emphatically by whitewashing Gabriel Clemens 7-0 with a 103.2 average.
The reigning UK Open and US Masters champion continued his red hot form into the final with Price, running out an 8-3 winner to claim his second ProTour title.
“I’ve never thrown darts like that, the last two hours of play I just felt like I wasn’t going to miss,” admitted Aspinall.
“To throw such a big average against the World Champions makes it even more special.
“This weekend I’ve felt brilliant and I’ve beaten some quality players, I’m very happy to win my second ProTour title.
“I’m still on cloud nine to be in the Premier League. I’m still new to this game, I’m still learning.
“I know what I can do and I want to show it more consistently.”
Aspinall took out 93 to lead 4-2 in the final before breaking throw with double 16 in leg seven.
The Stockport star then finished 60 and 81 to make it 7-2 before Price grabbed a consolation leg with an 81 checkout of his own, but Aspinall quickly killed off the game in the following leg.
A further two players also achieved perfect legs on the day, with Scott Baker landing his first career nine-darter in a 6-5 defeat to Danny Noppert just minutes before Keegan Brown achieved the feat in defeating Krzysztof Kciuk.
Dirk van Duijvenbode enjoyed a superb run to his first ProTour Semi-Final just weeks after regaining a Tour Card at Qualifying School, defeating Ricky Evans and Glen Durrant along the way.
Jamie Hughes pulled off an impressive 6-5 scalp of Michael van Gerwen in the Last 16, while Saturday’s winner Gary Anderson crashed out in Round One at the hands of Steve Beaton.
Canada’s Jeff Smith, who reached the final of Saturday’s Players Championship One, continued his impressive return to the ProTour after a seven-year absence by reaching the Last 16.
Two-time BDO Champion Scott Waites also made it to the Last 16 stage, along with fellow PDC newcomer Jason Lowe.
Sunday February 9
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Harry Ward
Mike De Decker 6-4 Ciaran Teehan
Mervyn King 6-1 Cristo Reyes
Ryan Searle 6-4 Adrian Gray
Jamie Hughes 6-2 Robert Thornton
Barrie Bates 6-4 Jesus Noguera
Jermaine Wattimena 6-5 Joe Murnan
Kai Fan Leung 6-0 Steffen Siepmann
Mensur Suljovic 6-3 Damon Heta
Maik Kuivenhoven 6-3 Ron Meulenkamp
Stephen Bunting 6-2 Aaron Beeney
Gabriel Clemens 6-2 Jelle Klaasen
James Wade 6-1 Nathan Derry
Martin Schindler 6-0 Callan Rydz
Steve West 6-4 Chris Dobey
Derk Telnekes 6-4 Gary Blades
Peter Wright 6-3 Marko Kantele
Nick Kenny 6-4 Robert Collins
Brendan Dolan 6-2 Jamie Lewis
William O’Connor 6-4 Devon Petersen
Adrian Lewis 6-4 Boris Krcmar
Justin Pipe 6-0 Richard North
Jose De Sousa 6-2 Kim Huybrechts
Wesley Harms 6-5 Rowby-John Rodriguez
Dave Chisnall 6-5 Luke Humphries
Matt Clark 6-4 Jonathan Worsley
John Henderson 6-4 Vincent Van der Meer
Jason Lowe 6-1 Matthew Edgar
Nathan Aspinall 6-1 Carl Wilkinson
Peter Jacques 6-0 Max Hopp
Keegan Brown 6-2 Krzysztof Kciuk – *Brown hits a nine-darter*
Steve Brown 6-3 Harald Leitinger
Ian White 6-1 Alan Tabern
Mike van Duivenbode 6-2 Mark McGeeney
Scott Waites 6-4 Vincent van der Voort
Geert Nentjes 6-4 Steve Lennon
Jonny Clayton 6-4 Darren Webster
Conan Whitehead 6-4 Ryan Meikle
Ross Smith 6-3 Jeffrey De Zwaan
Martijn Kleermaker 6-3 Bradley Brooks
Daryl Gurney 6-2 Andy Boulton
Jeff Smith 6-3 Darren Penhall
Danny Noppert 6-5 Scott Baker – *Baker hits a nine-darter*
Adam Hunt 6-3 Simon Stevenson
Glen Durrant 6-4 Jan Dekker
Martin Atkins 6-1 James Wilson
Ricky Evans 6-1 Gavin Carlin
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-2 William Borland
Gerwyn Price 6-5 Toni Alcinas
John Michael 6-5 Reece Robinson
Ryan Joyce 6-3 Simon Whitlock
Yordi Meeuwisse 6-4 Josh Payne
Darius Labanauskas 6-5 Rob Cross
Lisa Ashton 6-3 Christian Bunse
Michael Smith 6-2 Karel Sedlacek
Luke Woodhouse 6-3 Daniel Larsson
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-3 Ted Evetts
Niels Zonneveld 6-2 Madars Razma
Ryan Murray 6-3 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Mickey Mansell 6-5 Benito van de Pas
Andy Hamilton 6-4 Joe Cullen
Kirk Shepherd 6-2 David Pallett
Steve Beaton 6-5 Gary Anderson
Wayne Jones 6-1 Michael Barnard
Michael van Gerwen 6-4 Mike De Decker
Ryan Searle 6-5 Mervyn King
Jamie Hughes 6-2 Barrie Bates
Jermaine Wattimena 6-4 Kai Fan Leung
Maik Kuivenhoven 6-3 Mensur Suljovic
Gabriel Clemens 6-3 Stephen Bunting
James Wade 6-5 Martin Schindler
Steve West 6-3 Derk Telnekes
Peter Wright 6-1 Nick Kenny
Brendan Dolan 6-2 William O’Connor
Adrian Lewis 6-1 Justin Pipe
Jose De Sousa 6-1 Wesley Harms
Dave Chisnall 6-4 Matt Clark
Jason Lowe 6-4 John Henderson
Nathan Aspinall 6-4 Peter Jacques
Keegan Brown 6-5 Steve Brown
Ian White 6-1 Mike van Duivenbode
Scott Waites 6-1 Geert Nentjes
Jonny Clayton 6-5 Conan Whitehead
Ross Smith 6-3 Martijn Kleermaker
Jeff Smith 6-5 Daryl Gurney
Danny Noppert 6-3 Adam Hunt
Glen Durrant 6-0 Martin Atkins
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-3 Ricky Evans
Gerwyn Price 6-2 John Michael
Ryan Joyce 6-5 Yordi Meeuwisse
Darius Labanauskas 6-2 Lisa Ashton
Michael Smith 6-2 Luke Woodhouse
Niels Zonneveld 6-4 Krzysztof Ratajski
Mickey Mansell 6-3 Ryan Murray
Kirk Shepherd 6-4 Andy Hamilton
Steve Beaton 6-5 Wayne Jones
Michael van Gerwen 6-2 Ryan Searle
Jamie Hughes 6-1 Jermaine Wattimena
Gabriel Clemens 6-2 Maik Kuivenhoven
James Wade 6-4 Steve West
Peter Wright 6-2 Brendan Dolan
Jose De Sousa 6-1 Adrian Lewis
Jason Lowe 6-2 Dave Chisnall
Nathan Aspinall 6-5 Keegan Brown
Scott Waites 6-3 Ian White
Ross Smith 6-3 Jonny Clayton
Jeff Smith 6-1 Danny Noppert
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-1 Glen Durrant
Gerwyn Price 6-0 Ryan Joyce
Michael Smith 6-4 Darius Labanauskas
Mickey Mansell 6-1 Niels Zonneveld
Kirk Shepherd 6-5 Steve Beaton
Jamie Hughes 6-5 Michael van Gerwen
Gabriel Clemens 6-4 James Wade
Peter Wright 6-2 Jose De Sousa
Nathan Aspinall 6-3 Jason Lowe
Ross Smith 6-1 Scott Waites
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-5 Jeff Smith
Gerwyn Price 6-5 Michael Smith
Mickey Mansell 6-2 Kirk Shepherd
Gabriel Clemens 6-2 Jamie Hughes
Nathan Aspinall 6-4 Peter Wright – *Aspinall hits a nine-darter*
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-4 Ross Smith
Gerwyn Price 6-0 Mickey Mansell
Nathan Aspinall 7-0 Gabriel Clemens
Gerwyn Price 7-4 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Nathan Aspinall 8-3 Gerwyn Price
Reigning champion Michael van Gerwen aims to book his place in a fifth World Championship final at the expense of new sensation Nathan Aspinall at Alexandra Palace on Monday.
Van Gerwen has upheld his ruthless record in the sport’s show-piece, winning through to a seventh time in his last eight appearances at Ally Pally, but will not be content to stop there.
The world number one is out to move another step closer to retaining the world title for the first time and extending his unbeaten run in this competition to 11 matches.
The reigning Premier League and World Grand Prix champion dropped just one set in seeing off Jelle Klaasen (3-1), Ricky Evans (4-0) and Stephen Bunting (4-0) en route to the Quarter-Finals, before recovering from a slow start to dispatch Darius Labanauskas 5-2 in the Last Four.
By his own admission, Van Gerwen has not been at his vintage best over the festive period so far, but will look to go through the gears over the long format which has so often played into his hands.
Aspinall put his name on the darting map by reaching the Semis as a 500/1 outsider last year and has not looked back since, claiming his first major title at the UK Open in March before backing it up with a debut World Series triumph at the U.S Masters.
The Stockport ace followed up his opening win over America’s Danny Baggish with a superb all-round display to see off Polish ace Krzysztof Ratajski 4-3 with a 98.5 average before pulling off what he described as one of the biggest wins of his career as he defeated two-time World Champion Gary Anderson 4-2.
Aspinall, who has made the Ally Pally stage his second home since he first set foot on it 12 months ago, held off a stern challenge from Dimitri van den Bergh to prevail 5-3 in Sunday’s Quarter-Finals.
World number 12 heading into the tournament, ‘The Asp’ is now provisionally in the world’s top ten and will look to cap off a fairy-tale year by booking his place in the sport’s show-piece fixture.
This will be the fifth meeting between the two players, having shared two wins apiece since 2015, the most recent of which going the way of Aspinall in the Last 16 of September Gibraltar Trophy.
The second Semi-Final gets underway from 9.15pm GMT and will be contested over the best of 11 sets, best of five legs per set.
A tie-break will be in operation, where the final set must be won by two clear legs. If the score reaches 5-5, the 11th leg will be sudden-death.
Either third seed and Grand Slam champion Gerwyn Price or seventh seed and 2014 world finalist Peter Wright will await the winner in the final on New Year’s Day.
Van Gerwen: “I will put everything right for the next match.
“Nathan is having a great year and I think we can have a fantastic game but if I play to my top level I will have too much for him.
“Nathan looks up to me, I know that, but I’m going to use that against him.”
Aspinall: “I love being here and I want to put on a show for the fans, which is what I will aim to do.
“I bet him last time I played him, in fact I was 5-0 up against him so I know I can beat the guy, it’s a longer format and bigger occasion but I thin he knows that I can beat him.
“It’ll be a tough game, a good game, and hopefully I can come out on top.”