Austria agony for Smith!

Michael SmithUnicorn ace Michael Smith came within an ace of winning the Austrian Darts Open in Vienna on Sunday.

He was edged out 6-5 in a thrilling final by Michael van Gerwen on a dramatic day when the Team Unicorn star also came agonisingly close to a 9 darter.

"I gave it my all and put him under pressure and I thought I would get my chance in the decider, but that's what happens when you play Michael van Gerwen," Smith said.

"My game is constantly improving and good things are just around the corner," he added.

It was a fabulous final....Smith averaging 101 with his opponent on 105. The St Helens star was a 6-4 winner over Jelle Klaasen in the last 16 and then saw off Mervyn King in the quarter-finals. It was in the second leg of that game that he wired D12 for a 9 darter.

Then came an all-Unicorn semi-final against Joe Cullen. Earlier Cullen had hit the heights, as first he won an all Unicorn affair in the last 16 beating Kim Huybrechts 6-3, then he produced some dazzling darts to get the better of Finland's Kim Viljanen.

Cullen averaged over 100, hit five 180s and won it in style a brilliant 160 check-out. However in the semi-final he couldn't get going and averaged just 80 as Smith breezed through 6-4.

The final was one of the best in the history of the European Tour.

Smith went 2-0 in front with a 13 darter to break throw. He also missed one dart at 'tops' for a 3-1 lead. Van Gerwen fought back before an 86 finish saw Smith lead again. The World No.1 replied with an 87 check-out to level before a majestic 170 finish gave Smith the edge again at 4-3.

But Van Gerwen broke to lead 5-4 only for Smith to hit back taking out 70 to force the decider. It took a 12 darter from the Dutchman to snatch the Austrian title.

It was a superb Smith effort.

As well as Huybrechts, Unicorn youngster Chris Dobey also reached the last 16, but after going 2-0 up against Viljanen he then proceeded to miss a stack of doubles and lost 6-2 to the Finn.

Results - Q/Finals:

Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Martin Schindler

Cristo Reyes 6-3 Daryl Gurney

Joe Cullen 6-4 Kim Viljanen

Michael Smith 6-3 Mervyn King


Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Cristo Reyes

Michael Smith 6-4 Joe Cullen

Final: Michael van Gerwen 6-5 Michael Smith

Story from STUART PYKE

Photo courtesy Lawrence Lustig / PDC