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Dimitri Van den Bergh insists success will not change him following World Matchplay glory – Sky Sports

“I know that who I am does not change what I achieve, but it’s what I achieve that I am believing in. I will always be myself. I will never change.”

Last Updated: 28/07/20 12:06am

Van den Bergh’s Matchplay exploits have elevated him to a career high of 12th in the world

Dimitri Van den Bergh fulfilled his darting dreams to defeat Gary Anderson 18-10 and clinch World Matchplay glory in Milton Keynes on Sunday evening, but he insists he will not let success change him.

The 26-year-old enjoyed a dream Matchplay debut at the Marshall Arena, becoming the tenth winner of the iconic event, and the first Belgian to lift a major PDC title.

It was a remarkable triumph for a man quoted as a 200/1 outsider before a dart was thrown, but Van den Bergh produced the type of quality that saw him scoop back-to-back World Youth titles, to make his dreams a reality.

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Watch the moment Dimitri Van den Bergh won the World Matchplay with victory over Gary Anderson at the Marshall Arena.
Watch the moment Dimitri Van den Bergh won the World Matchplay with victory over Gary Anderson at the Marshall Arena.

“I am the winner of this tournament. Wow! Give me a few extra hours, I think I need them at the moment,” an ecstatic Van den Bergh told Sky Sports’ Michael Bridge just moments after his victory.

“What a beautiful trophy I have in my hands. They call it the Phil Taylor Trophy – that man, I have seen him playing so many times, so many tournaments.

“Gary Anderson – I’ve seen him play in tournaments in the BDO World Championship. I’ve always been a massive fan, I still am, but now that I have managed to win against a player like that, on a trophy name like this one, wow!”

“They [my family] are ecstatic like I am. They’ve been saying you’ve always had it in you and all of a sudden it’s happening. I am making my dreams coming true. It is happening.”

Given Van den Bergh’s consistency throughout the tournament, his win over ‘The Flying Scotsman’ could not be considered a shock, although many felt that Anderson’s pedigree and experience would pay dividends.

The Belgian is just the tenth player to lift the coveted Phil Taylor Trophy

The pair made a tepid start but ‘The Dream Maker’ grew in stature as the contest progressed and his clinical combination finishing was instrumental to his success.

The Belgian converted 45 per cent of his attempts at double and produced finishes of 121, 124, 132 and 170 en route to an emphatic 18-10 success, reeling off 13 of the last 17 legs to complete the biggest win of his life.

“Especially when I was under pressure, I kept believing that I could do it. Everybody knows that when I am playing darts I give myself an extra breath and that has been working, especially I think after the last break,” he added.

“We came back off the stage and I think I had two finishes on the bullseye. The second one, the bullseye went in and I was looking to the side making the face like: ‘I think it’s my day’.”

Two quarter-final appearances at the World Championship provided evidence of Van den Bergh’s credentials, although considering his reputation as a big stage player, there’s a certain irony that his first major title comes in an event without spectators.

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Dimitri Van den Bergh converted four huge ton-plus checkouts en route to glory
Dimitri Van den Bergh converted four huge ton-plus checkouts en route to glory

Despite the absence of a live audience, there was still a real magnitude to the tournament and Van den Bergh was effusive in his praise towards the PDC, for its efforts and ingenuity for ensuring the sport’s safe return during the current climate.

“You do not have to forget that this world is going through a lot of difficult times and Barry Hearn and Matthew Porter – they still made this tournament happen.

“They made the Summer Series events happen, so thank you guys. Without you guys I wouldn’t be holding this trophy. It is unbelievable.”

It’s been well-publicised that Van den Bergh spent three months living alongside world champion Peter Wright during lockdown and ahead of the tournament, the 26-year-old revealed that he had used the hiatus to develop the mental side of his game.

The Belgian is mature beyond his years and his discernible humility could prove invaluable as speculation mounts about a potential Premier League inclusion in 2021, but he’s adamant that this won’t prove to be a distraction.

The Belgian enjoyed a three-month stay with world champion Peter Wright during lockdown

“I’ll be busy with myself. That’s what I have been doing the whole week. I’ve been playing against brilliant players, players that normally smash me up and all of a sudden it’s changed,” he continued.

“I think whatever I’ve learnt from Peter Wright, it’s working. Peter and Jo, thank you guys, especially for the messages.”

Michael van Gerwen enjoyed a dominant record at youth level before his first major PDC triumph at the 2012 World Grand Prix and Van den Bergh will be hoping that Matchplay glory provides him with a similar tonic.

Van Gerwen was 22 when he triumphed at the Grand Prix, four years younger than the Belgian. ‘The Green Machine’ always possessed prodigious talent but developing his mental strength was integral to his success and Van den Bergh attributes his exploits to his growing maturity.

“I think my results have definitely showed that my mental game has stepped up and my B-game,” said Van den Bergh, speaking in his post-match press conference.

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Dimitri Van den Bergh is the World Matchplay champion! He gives his reaction to his first televised title win…
Dimitri Van den Bergh is the World Matchplay champion! He gives his reaction to his first televised title win…

“When I’m on my A-game, when I’m on fire, I know I can beat anyone, I know I can play outstanding, but my B-game has always been letting me down.

“That is because my mental strength has not been as strong as I know it should be. Now it is and that’s why I made myself into this tournament as a winner.”

Van den Bergh’s ascension into the winner’s circle has broken a host of records, but he’s also just the second man to have won a PDC ranking title by beating three multiple world champions in the process.

He overcame the highly-fancied Nathan Aspinall in his opener before producing a fine comeback win to stun Joe Cullen, which he followed up by beating Adrian Lewis, Glen Durrant and Anderson respectively – a trio with seven world titles between them.

It’s an astonishing coup for a man making his Matchplay debut, but as Van den Bergh himself acknowledges, it’s testament to the fact that he belongs in the elite, which his new world No 12 ranking attests to.

“Now all of a sudden I am a winner. I am part of that elite group. I have shown that I am capable. It doesn’t matter who you are. If I do my thing, my game and my work, I can win against everybody.”

Van den Bergh reacts to title glory…

“Before I played today, my manager said: ‘You won against the number six in the world, number 12 in the world, number 14 in the world and number 18 in the world. You have won against all of them before getting yourself into the final’.

“Now all of a sudden I am a winner. I am part of that elite group. I have shown that I am capable. It doesn’t matter who you are. If I do my thing, my game and my work, I can win against everybody.”

The Matchplay is arguably second only to the World Championship in terms of prestige and it’s a career-changing win for Van den Bergh.

He’s now cemented a place in the world’s top 16 and is a virtual certainty to appear in every major televised event throughout the next 12 months, whilst a permanent Premier League spot may be on the horizon.

Nevertheless, the popularity of ‘The Dream Maker’ is largely down to his character – he’s respectful, engaging and authentic, something he insists will not change irrespective of what the future holds.

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“I’m very curious to what my future is holding in front of me now, but whatever is coming on to me, I will keep my feet on the ground,” he continued.

“I know that who I am does not change what I achieve, but it’s what I achieve that I am believing in. I will always be myself. I will never change. I have always said it. I will never change.

“I’ll always be that nice, gentle guy who is respectful and showing everybody appreciation because I can only play this tournament, and everybody else can play this tournament, because of so many other people putting in their hard work, and I will always show a lot of appreciation for that.”

Darts is back on Sky Sports next month, as the Premier League returns with six consecutive nights of action getting underway on Tuesday August 25.