De Sousa reaches Grand Slam final on debut
By Paul Woodage 24/11/2020
Amazingly on his tournament debut, Jose De Sousa has reached the final of the BoyleSports Grand Slam and will face off against James Wade, an ever-present at the event since it began in 2007.
The Iberian Sensation produced another solid display to see off the challenge from a resurgent Simon Whitlock. De Sousa becomes the first Portuguese player to reach a PDC major final and now has his eyes set firmly on the big prize.
Of the two, Whitlock made the better start but De Sousa stuck to his coat tails and finally wrestled the lead in the 13th leg. Once in front, the charismatic man from Lisbon ensured it wasn’t relinquished and despite not running away from the Wizard, was able to fend off the challenge and complete an historic victory.
Amusingly, De Sousa did treat us all to a bit of his famed moment of miscounting madness. Requiring 126 to win a leg, he stepped up to the oche and fired in two treble twenties followed by a double eight to spectacularly bust his score. But typically unperturbed, he brushed it off and went on to register a 16-12 win over the Aussie and move into the final.
A delighted De Sousa said: "This is a feeling I cannot describe. My best moment in darts, a dream come true and I feel like my heart will explode, it's amazing.
"I didn't expect this but I fought in every leg, today my doubles went in and I deserve this. It's wonderful and it means a lot."
"I'm really happy for my fans and everyone who's backed me, my sponsors and my manager. I left my job last year and I'm really happy to make a place in the PDC, I've worked so hard.
"This year has been difficult for everybody and it's not easy. In two months I've only had three days in my home. But all the people in Portugal and Spain have supported me and I'm very proud."
Waiting for De Sousa next is stable mate James Wade after he got the better of Dimitri Van den Bergh in a nail-biting semi final.
It was another fine darting example of James Wade doing exactly what James Wade does but clinically well. Without being breathtakingly brilliant or recording an astronomical average he was unflustered, calculated and decisive. Precisely what he has been throughout this whole tournament and the majority of his career.
Dimitri Van den Bergh is having the year of his darting life. With the World Matchplay already in the bag and a place in next years Premier League virtually guaranteed he dearly wanted to add this title to his resume.
The Belgian began strongly and raced into a 5-1 lead. Gradually Wade clawed away the deficit but couldn’t get his nose in front as Van den Bergh kept him at arms length. Then in leg eighteen the momentum finally swung The Machine’s way as he broke his opponents throw to level up the match 14-14.
The drama wasn’t quite over though as the next two legs also went against serve. That gave James Wade the chance to throw for the match and a place in his third Grand Slam final which he duly converted.
Unable to contain his delight, Wade said: "I'm unbelievably happy. I'm buzzing, I used to feel like this many years ago and I haven't felt like this for a long time.
"It hasn't happened for me at times but at the moment I'm pushing forward and I really am happy to win. It means a lot to me.
"I was so poor to start off and I missed quite a lot of finishes. I probably should have lost that game, Dimitri was the better player, he didn't buckle or back down, but I did enough to win.
"I was beaten and then I wasn't beaten. I was making it hard for myself when it shouldn't have been that hard.
"I thought I'd blown it when I got back to 14-all and had a poor leg, but in that last leg I was so determined. Now that I'm in the final, I'm going to relax and enjoy myself."
The action gets under way a little earlier tonight at 6pm on Sky Sports.
BoyleSports Grand Slam of Darts
Monday November 23
Jose De Sousa 16-12 Simon Whitlock
James Wade 16-15 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Best of 31 legs
Tuesday November 24 (1800 GMT)
Jose De Sousa v James Wade
Best of 31 legs
Picture by Lawrence Lustig.
Regional events for boys & girls with a spectacular climax