Anderson was left furious despite overcoming Suljovic in a war of attrition at the Alexandra Palace; the two-time world champion converted four ton-plus finishes to seal a dramatic 4-3 comeback victory
By Josh Gorton
Last Updated: 29/12/20 2:08pm
Gary Anderson was left seething after seeing off Mensur Suljovic in a controversial clash at the World Darts Championship, threatening to walk away from the sport despite advancing to the last 16 at Alexandra Palace.
‘The Flying Scotsman’ was visibly frustrated by Suljovic’s methodical approach throughout the contest, but he rallied from 3-2 down to progress in a deciding set, reeling off the final six legs without reply.
Anderson squandered nine darts for a two-set buffer and this galvanised the Austrian, who grew in confidence and threatened to inflict Anderson’s earliest World Championship exit for a decade.
The 50-year-old has struggled with a knee injury over recent months and he was subjected to an extended workout in a marathon tussle that lasted almost 90 minutes, featuring 33 missed darts at double from the Scot.
However, in and amongst an erratic display, the two-time world champion produced his fair share of quality – converting four ton-plus checkouts to complete the comeback, including a stunning 156 combination.
Anderson is no stranger to facing Suljovic on the big stage – the pair locked horns in the 2018 World Matchplay final, in one of the greatest games in darting history.
Nevertheless, the Scot was less than impressed with his opponent’s approach.
“Absolutely dire, absolute joke of a game. Everyone says why do you get cheesed off with darts? That’s one of the reasons,” Anderson told Sky Sports’ Michael Bridge.
Suljovic’s play was particularly laboured in the opening half of the match, but as he began to gain the upper-hand midway through proceedings he appeared to pick up the pace, which further antagonised Anderson.
“Did you watch the last set? Or the third set? Was he slow then? No, he was not slow,” continued the 13th seed.
“I nicked it at the end, I don’t know how but if that’s darts I’m offski. If that’s how darts is going and that’s how it gets played now, have fun. I’m off. I’m away for a game of golf or something. I’m not going through that again.”
Anderson also sparked confusion with his comments surrounding the table situation on stage, admitting he ‘lost the plot’ following the opening set.
“For a start, we were told what tables we were on and I ended up on the wrong table for the duration of the game,” he added.
“Mensur went to the wrong table. I had to bite the bullet and get on with it as usual. You’re walking past the table you should be at, but you’ve got to cut across because the boy’s standing there.
“The next minute you go across he’s not there. What have you to do? My head was gone after the first set. I’d lost the plot.”
Anderson has been involved in several moments of controversy over recent years – his defeat to Gerwyn Price in the 2018 Grand Slam final remains one of the most infamous tussles in PDC history.
Tuesday at the World Championship
|Round Three||James Wade||vs||Stephen Bunting|
|Round Three||Daryl Gurney||vs||Chris Dobey|
|Round Three||Jason Lowe||vs||Devon Petersen|
|Round Three||Dave Chisnall||vs||Danny Noppert|
|Round Four||Gabriel Clemens||vs||Krzysztof Ratajski|
|Round Four||Michael van Gerwen||vs||Joe Cullen|
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December 29, 2020, 12:00pm
The two-time Premier League winner also hit the headlines during last month’s Grand Slam of Darts, where he highlighted the rise of gamesmanship within the sport.
Following his victory over Suljovic, Anderson once again lamented the ‘dark arts’ of his darting rivals.
“I just want to play darts. I’m sure there are 90 per cent of folk watching at home, they probably turned over and watched Corrie or something – I would have.
“I just want to throw darts and if you get spanked, the boy has been better than you and beaten you. Shake his hand and on you go. But that’s a load of tripe.”
Wayne Mardle and Mark Webster offered their verdicts on Anderson’s candid post-match comments, and Mardle was bemused by Anderson’s protestations regarding ‘table-gate’.
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“If his mind is going to go that quickly, he’s clearly not in a good space. He’s clearly not concentrating on the game,” Mardle reflected.
“Normally that wouldn’t bother him. I feel sure about that. What bothered him was the pace of Mensur. I think it was just a little bit of: ‘I’ll deflect that.’
“There are three breaks during the game. Why not ask during the game for the tables to be changed, replaced? It’s just a poor excuse from Gary. He won that game. Imagine what he would have been like if he had lost it!”
Webster was also surprised by Anderson’s anger, but he believes the former World Cup winner should take the positives from his comeback victory.
“He’s unhappy but when he sits back he’s dug in deep there against an awkward opponent,” said the former BDO world champion.
“Mensur Suljovic did play slow at times but what does Gary want him to do? Play into his hands and go quick with him? There are variations with players and you’ve got to get used to it.
“He’s won the match and he’s still in the biggest tournament in darts. He’s a two-time world champion and he could be three times, so take the positives surely?”
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