SIMON Stevenson walked away from the main stage of the Butlins arena a beaten man, but he walked away from the Minehead resort a proud man, after giving arguably his best performance since he won his first PDC Pro Tour Card back in January 2016.
His assault on the UK Open title began on Friday, continued throughout Saturday and came to a head yesterday afternoon when he competed in what was his first televised quarter-final tie.
His wins included victories over Mark Webster, Raymond van Barneveld, Kim Huybrechts and Dave Chisnall, who incidentally, are players that have all played in the Premier League.
That success put him into the quarter-finals where he was drawn to play Gerwyn Price, a player very much in form, having won both Players Championships 5 and 6 only the week before with a combined average of 101.89
The Welshman showed that oustanding form as early the opening leg when he took it in 15 with a checkout of 109 before doubling his advantage in 14.
The Mirror Man responded by taking the next in 12 and then levelled in 18 before the two players went into the first break with Price leading 3-2 after winning the fifth leg in 16.
There was no doubt that Stevenson was giving a good account of himself and after making it 3-3 with a win in 17, he edged in front for the first time at 4-3 when hitting a 13-darter.
Two consecutive legs from the World No.7 in 17 and 18 saw him restore his advantage to 5-4 before a cruel twist of fate made Stevenson show despondency for the first time in the match.
After 12 darts Stevenson had left himself a two-dart finish when needing 57, only for Price to checkout out on the bull from 164 for a win in 12 and restore his two-leg advantage.
The Markham thrower won the next in 14 and although Stevenson took the 12th leg in 18, three legs on the spin in 15, 16 and 15 were enough to put the Welshman into the semi-finals.
But what an outstanding showing from Stevenson none-the-less who earned himself a host of new admirers.
The Mirror Man played six matches with just one defeat and finished with an overall average of 92.90, earning himself 12,500 order of merit ranking points which, hopefully, will go towards keeping him in the top 64, which is where he needs to be at the end of the 2020 World Championship to prevent another lottery at Q School.
The event was won by 27-year-old Nathan Aspinall who, after beating Price 11-9 in the semi’s, defeated former World champion Rob Cross 11-5, to win his first televised title, clinching the decisive 16th leg with a 170 checkout.