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Gary Anderson ends three-year wait for PDC ranking title with Players Championship 8 triumph

Gary Anderson managed to end a long title drought with an 8-5 victory over Krzysztof Ratajski in Monday's Players Championship 8 final in Hildesheim.

Anderson posted four ton-plus averages en route to scooping the £12,000 top prize in Germany, as the fourth ProTour double-header of 2023 concluded in thrilling fashion.
The Scot - a runner-up to Ross Smith at Players Championship 5 last week - has enjoyed a stunning revival over recent weeks, also sealing his European Tour return following a seven-year sabbatical.
Anderson continued his resurgence to claim the spoils at Halle 39, crashing in six 180s and converting a stunning 170 checkout to topple Ratajski in Monday's decider.
The pair shared the opening four legs of the final, only for Anderson to seize control with a run of three straight legs - featuring the spectacular maximum finish in leg seven.
Ratajski responded to reduce the arrears to 4-5, although Anderson kept his cool, producing back-to-back 180s before pinning double five to clinch his first PDC title since February 2020.
"I'm back playing darts and I'm enjoying it again," admitted the two-time World Champion, who moves into the provisional qualification places for July's Betfred World Matchplay.
"It has been hard. Over the last three years, I've not wanted to come and play darts, but I'm enjoying it again and I've really enjoyed this weekend.
"I'm practising with Ryan [Searle] and it's going well. People wrote me off, and I'm just here to give you all headaches!"
Anderson boasted a tournament average of 100 across his seven matches, kicking off his campaign with battling wins over Jamie Hughes and Jelle Klaasen.
He then moved through to the last 16 with an impressive 6-4 success against top seed Luke Humphries, before averaging 110.5 to dump out Premier League star Dimitri Van den Bergh.
The 52-year-old continued his charge with a convincing quarter-final win over Dutch prospect Gian van Veen, which he followed with an emphatic 7-3 victory against Gerwyn Price in the last four.
Meanwhile, fresh from reaching Sunday's semi-finals, Ratajski capped off a terrific weekend by reaching his first ProTour final since last August.
Poland's number one eased through to the last 16 with wins over Richie Burnett, Ryan Meikle and Boris Krcmar, before averaging over 107 to complete a last-leg win over Dave Chisnall.
Ratajski converted successive ton-plus finishes to edge out Brendan Dolan in the quarter-finals, and a stunning 109 average saw him dispatch Ricardo Pietreczko to seal his spot in Monday's showpiece.
Germany's emerging ace Pietreczko performed superbly in reaching his second ProTour semi-final, whitewashing Keegan Brown and dumping out Jonny Clayton and European Champion Ross Smith on home soil.
Price defeated his Premier League rival Michael van Gerwen en route to reaching the semi-finals, denying the Dutchman a second Players Championship title in as many days.
The Welshman also averaged 105 in wins over Ricky Evans and Scott Williams, before later claiming a deciding-leg win against Luke Woodhouse in the last eight.
Woodhouse was featuring in his first ranking quarter-final of 2023, exiting at the same stage as Players Championship Five winner Smith, emerging Dutchman Van Veen and Sunday's nine-dart star Dolan.
Monday's action also featured a nine-darter from William O'Connor, who achieved perfection in his opening round demolition of Jimmy Hendriks.
Chisnall produced the performance of the day in Germany, averaging 117.4 in his first round victory over Kevin Burness, before succumbing to Ratajski in a dramatic last 16 tussle.
Sunday's runner-up Josh Rock was beaten by Van Veen in round one, while Chris Dobey, Danny Noppert and Joe Cullen were also amongst the early first round casualties.
Tour Card Holder Qualifiers for European Tour Events 7 & 8 will be held in Hildesheim on Tuesday, before the Interwetten European Darts Open (ET2) takes place in Leverkusen from March 24-26.

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