LONDON (Reuters) - Fallon Sherrock continued to provide shockwaves in the male-dominated world of darts, producing a stellar display to defeat one of the best players in the game, Mensur Suljovic, at the PDC world championships on Saturday.
Sherrock had made waves — and written a host of headlines — at the Alexandra Palace on Tuesday when she became the first woman to defeat a male opponent in the game’s premier event with her 3-2 victory over Ted Evetts.
Yet the magnitude of that win was eclipsed by the 25-year-old Englishwoman’s follow-up act in the second round — a 3-1 victory over experienced Austrian Suljovic, who is ranked number 11 in the world.
In a pulsating match, the bespectacled Fallon delivered a match-winning bullseye to emerge triumphant, drawing ecstatic cheers from a packed crowd who have embraced her rise as the “Queen of the Palace”.
“I’ve just proved we can beat anyone,” she said on stage, sounding as if she could hardly credit her achievement. “I’ve beaten two of the best players in the world and if that doesn’t say ‘women can play darts’, I don’t know what does.”
After being introduced on to stage by her new regal nickname, Sherrock started nervously, losing the first two legs tamely, but roared back with checkouts of 81, 131 and 70 to take the opening set.
After Sherrock lost the second set from 2-0 up, it appeared that Suljovic was taking command as he raced into a 2-0 lead in the third but she again delivered nerveless darts, including one 11-dart leg, to take the set.
In the face of a partisan crowd who were jeering him as he took crucial throws, Suljovic, who had started the match as an almost unbackable 1-14 favorite, looked increasingly flustered at two legs all in the fourth set.
Again, Sherrock looked the more composed as she finished the match with a superb 86 checkout, ending on the bullseye.
“When it went in, it was a sigh of relief. I was saying to myself, ‘don’t let it go to a last set.’ I can’t believe it. My finishing was spot on,” said Sherrock, whose new-found fame had seen her taken on a publicity whirl.
“I’m still waiting for it all to sink in. I don’t even know how I’m going to sleep tonight.”
Sherrock, a 2,000-1 long shot to win the event at the start of the tournament who faces world number 22 Chris Dobey in the third round, was one of two women qualifiers alongside 94 men. The other, Japan’s Mikuru Suzuki, took James Richardson to a deciding leg before losing 3-2 in the opening round.
(This story corrects spelling of Suljovic throughout)
Reporting by Ian Chadband, editing by Ed Osmond