The stunning nine gave Michael Smith the confidence that he could win the world championship

Michael Smith said his stunning nine throws in the World Cup final gave him the confidence he could beat Michael van Gerwen to win his first title.

The 32-year-old, a two-time runner-up including a painful loss to Peter Wright 12 months ago, excelled in the second set and continued to record mesmerizing results as he won one of the biggest finals in history 7-4.

He became only the second player to hit nine darts in a World Cup final and the first since Adrian Lewis in 2011 to go down in the history books.

By winning his maiden title on his third attempt, he also became world number one and avenged his final loss to Van Gerwen in 2019, who attempted a nine-kick just before Smith landed him.

Smith said, “When he missed a double 12, I gave him a little lower five and it was like, ‘If I hit it now, he’ll know I’m in the game and I’m not going to run away from it.’

“I lost my first set of darts and I was wondering if it would happen again?” But when the nine came in, it moved me and gave me the faith I needed and also gave him the doubt that I wasn’t here just to win another runner-up trophy. I’m here to play and give my best to win the world championship.

After losing finals in 2019 and 2022 on a streak of eight consecutive major finals losses, Smith could be forgiven for thinking a night like this would never happen.

But he stayed positive and knows all the heartache was worth it.

“I don’t think I can describe it,” he added.

“Finally I did it, through all the heartache I was going through, and I was finally able to lift the trophy and put a star on the shirt I had worked so hard for.

“It wasn’t just for the World Cup today, it was for world number one so it’s special.”

Van Gerwen was the clear favorite for a fourth title after a great year and an even better tournament where he averaged over 100 points per round until the final.

But he hesitated at the last hurdle because, after playing his part in an amazing opening of the match where he missed a nine-shot attempt before Smith threw his, his level dropped, allowing his opponent to race to the promised land.

“I think he played really well, of course I had my chances, we all know that,” Van Gerwen told Sky Sports.

“When you don’t hit them it will hurt you, obviously I didn’t play very well in the last two sets and I can only blame myself for that.

“It wasn’t what I wanted, but it’s part of the game and you have to take it on your chest. It’s part of the job, when you celebrate, it’s a nice job, but when you lose games it’s hard. I have to take it on board.”

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