“To be honest that’s the best I’ve seen him play in a while. It was a hard one”
GARY ANDERSON admitted it was a “hard one” as he won his first World Grand Prix match in three years.
The two-time World Champion edged out Jose de Sousa in a deciding leg thriller in Leicester last night.
Ando, 52, recovered from being edged out in the opening set to deliver a stunning finale to outgun the potent Portuguese star.
He said: “I’ve got a lot of time for Jose. When we did the Premier League we’d spend many a time doing the 121 checkout.
“You’ve got the worst players trying that game because neither of us can count. I think my counting is bad but Jose just still beats me!
“To be honest that’s the best I’ve seen him play in a while. It was a hard one.
“Just 20 minutes before we went on stage I wasn’t too confident. It wasn’t going well on the practice board. Nothing seemed to go right.
“It seems like a long throw. I think we were kind of launching at them. Even Jose said he was having to give it a good stretch to get the darts in.
“I’m just here to chuck darts. I’m past the point of having pressure to do this.”
Anderson came flying out the traps in the double-start format. But in the deciding leg of the opening set, he lost a dart in the treble 20. De Sousa seized his chance and nailed 70 with double four to snatch the set.
Then Anderson rolled back the years with four successive legs, taking the second set and leading the match in the third.
But De Sousa suddenly woke up and forced the final set into a deciding leg.
Anderson once again delivered a vital 30 seconds of action. He produced a crucial sixth 180 of the match which set up a glorious double 18 to finish in style.
James Wade seemed to be on course for victory but then lost three legs in a row in the final set to suffer defeat at the hands of Krzysztof Ratajski.
Callan Rydz showed glimpses of magic but had no answer to Michael Smith who produced the performance of the night, averaging 96.14 in a 2-0 win.
Ross Smith now takes to the stage in Leicester tonight when he faces Jonny Clayton.
By Phil Lanning