Dirk van Duijvenbode is the aubergine farmer who will be back at work on Tuesday, just hours after the biggest night of his darting life when he plays world No 3 Gerwyn Price in the World Grand Prix final.
The 28-year-old Dutchman has stormed through the field, swatting aside major televised tournament winners and defying his status as the lowest ranked player in the tournament.
Price is playing better than anyone else in the world at the moment, he has won three of the last four tournaments to be played and can rise to second in the world with victory over Van Duijvenbode on Monday night.
The debutant vs the most in-form player on planet darts. The World Grand Prix has a final fitting of a week that has producing spellbinding darts, last-leg deciders and shocks galore.
- Debutant Van Duijvenbode into Grand Prix final
- Van Gerwen and Anderson stunned at the Grand Prix
Live World Grand Prix Darts
October 12, 2020, 8:00pm
Dazzling Dirk’s debut to remember
Prior to this week, Van Duijvenbode’s career was most notable for a couple of things. Gaining his Tour card on three occasions, twice via Q-School, and a frankly terrifying walk-on to some very hardcore Dutch dance music.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Dirk van Duijvenbode… Who remembers this crazy Walk-On from the European Darts Open in 2015? pic.twitter.com/5N2f5bit3h
However, this year, the world no 73, who could rise as high as 36 if he wins the World Grand Prix, has shown he is a player not to be underestimated.
He got into the field based on his performances on the Pro and European Tour in this truncated of sporting seasons, but a semi-final at the Belgian Darts Championship showed what he is capable of.
It was Price who ended the Dutchman’s run, but wins over Ian White, Jeffrey de Zwaan and Nathan Aspinall offered a hint of what was to come.
Runs to the last 16 on the Pro Tour have become common, while he reached the last 32 at the UK Open and the bigger the occasion the more at home he looks.
Van Duijvenbode’s route to the final
Having struggled passed Mensur Suljovic, he has gone stronger with every game, beating World Matchplay champion Dimitri Van den Bergh, two-time world champion Gary Anderson and former European Championship winner and multiple major finalist Simon Whitlock in a remarkable run.
In his own words – “I was thinking, if I lose, I have the take the first flight tomorrow morning and be working in the afternoon. Well, now I’ll be working on Tuesday!
“I’m not taking holiday, not working costs me money so I have to work! I’ll keep on working, I like working. My boss texted me last night when I beat Gary Anderson and said, ‘Well done mate, I’m in tears’.
“That’s what you do this for. To make your family proud and my boss [proud], he’s in tears. It feels so awesome if people enjoy it when I win.”
Price living up to star billing
While many would not have picked Van Duivenbode to be in the World Grand Prix final, Price would have probably been edged out by Peter Wright as the pick from the bottom half.
His record in this event has not been good, only once before has the Welshman reached the quarter-final and he has suffered three first-round exits.
But Price is a different beast these days, and is the man of the moment. After a surprise early defeat at the World Matchplay and missing out on the top four in the Premier League, he has not looked back since.
He won the last two Pro Tour events at the Autumn Series in Germany, and followed up with his third big televised title when he beat Rob Cross to win the World Series of Darts Finals in Vienna.
The two-time Grand Slam champion has reached more finals on the PDC Tour than anyone else this year, and a win on Monday will give him more titles than anyone else this year as well.
Price’s route to the final
In his own words – “Towards the end [against Dave Chisnall], I was bombing chance after chance. I knew that he had a lot of luck in the last few games, and I thought he was going to have it, but I had it in the end.
“I enjoyed it all the way through, just not the last set. I think I gave him two sets where I just couldn’t get off. I just gifted him two sets. But I’m thankful to get over the line and into another final. I’m over the moon.
“I was packing my case. I was gone. I was meeting the girls after school tomorrow! But I’ll just leave that until Tuesday now. I miss them terribly. My youngest daughter, she’s on the phone to me all the time, just missing me. But it’s for a good reason, being away is tough but it’s worth it.”
Wayne Mardle’s expert verdict
“I am sick of saying Dirk can’t win only to see him keep winning. He deserves all the credit in the world for the way he played against Simon Whitlock. He played how I expected Simon to play, Simon worried him and it should have been the other way round.
“He has been magnificent from start to finish, every player he has beaten is ranked above him and in the world’s top 32.
“But Gerwyn Price is used to winning at the moment and when Dave (Chisnall) pulled the dart at double nine, he was able to win. The only game he has lost recently is against Devon Petersen.”
Darts is back on Sky Sports on Thursday night with the thrilling conclusion of the Premier League Play-Offs, while the big tournaments continue in November with both the World Cup of Darts and Grand Slam of Darts
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