Krzysztof Ratajski celebrated his second European Tour title with a comprehensive 8-3 victory against Stephen Bunting at the Interwetten German Darts Open on Sunday.
Ratajski – a winner of the Gibraltar Darts Trophy in 2019 – ended his four-year wait for a big stage crown with a series of superb performances at the Sparkassen-Arena.
Poland’s number one has enjoyed a welcome return to form in 2023, and after celebrating his seventh Players Championship win back in April, he scooped the £30,000 top prize in Jena to move into double digits for PDC titles.
Ratajski’s challenge began with an impressive 6-3 success against Ricky Evans on Saturday, and he continued his charge with an emphatic victory against top seed Dave Chisnall in the last 16.
The 46-year-old then ran out a convincing 6-3 winner against Danny Noppert in the last eight, before producing an impressive display to dispatch Josh Rock in the semi-finals.
There was nothing to separate the pair after six legs, but Ratajski found top gear in the closing stages, following up a 126 checkout on the bull with legs of 13, 14 and 14 darts to complete a 7-4 victory.
Ahead of the final, Ratajski landed a nine-dart finish with his warm-up darts – and he made a dream start to Sunday’s showpiece, racing into a 4-0 lead with the aid of a 128 checkout in leg two.
Bunting paid the price for squandering nine darts at double in the opening exchanges, although a clinical 90 kill in leg five saw him open his account as he fought to reduce the arrears.
However, after Bunting missed double 11 for a 102 outshot in leg seven, Ratajski restored his three-leg buffer with a crucial hold, before landing a timely 12-darter to extend his cushion.
The former World Matchplay semi-finalist then converted a nerveless 105 checkout to move to the cusp of victory in leg ten, and he pinned double eight moments later to cap off a terrific victory.
“I have waited for this moment for four years,” reflected Ratajski, who is now closing in on a return to the world’s top 20.
“I am delighted. I didn’t expect it, because in the last two or three months I haven’t played well, but this weekend I played better.
“Stephen missed a few very important doubles early on. I took those legs and that gave me the confidence to play well.
“This win puts me into the top 16 on the ProTour Order of Merit. That was my target this year, so now I must find another target!”
Bunting was denied his first big-stage title in the PDC, but he enjoyed a tournament to remember in Jena, having survived eight match darts in his second round win over Joe Cullen on Saturday.
The 38-year-old brushed aside Martin Schindler to end home hopes in the last 16, before coming through two more deciding-leg tussles against Andrew Gilding and Wesley Plaisier later in the day.
“Full credit to Krzysztof. He was fantastic,” conceded Bunting, who was using his new darts for the first time in competition this weekend.
“I threw everything at him, I gave it my all, but congratulations to Krzysztof, he was the deserved winner.
“To make a European Tour final on my first outing with my new darts, I’m chuffed to bits.
“The crowd got me through a few games this weekend. The support has been absolutely phenomenal, and I can’t wait to come back to Germany and play in front of this wonderful crowd again.”
Elsewhere, Plaisier equalled the best performance by an Associate Member Qualifier on the European Tour – registering a series of major scalps to progress to a first PDC ranking semi-final.
The Dutchman accounted for European Champion Ross Smith and third seed Luke Humphries on his way to the last eight, where he eased past Brian Raman to break new ground at the Sparkassen-Arena.
Plaisier was joined in the semi-finals by Rock, who secured deciding-leg wins over Ryan Searle and Dirk van Duijvenbode on Sunday, rallying from 5-2 down to deny the Dutchman in a thriller.
Van Duijvenbode was left to rue wiring two match darts against the Northern Irishman, as he crashed out in the quarter-finals alongside his compatriot and World Cup partner Noppert.
UK Open champion Gilding also exited in the last eight alongside Belgium’s Raman, who stunned World Matchplay champion Nathan Aspinall to reach his first PDC ranking quarter-final.
The PDC European Tour continues from September 22-24 with the Hungarian Darts Trophy in Budapest, where 48 players will compete across three days of action in the penultimate event of 2023.
The tournament will be broadcast live on Viaplay, DAZN and PDCTV (excluding Germany, Austria and Switzerland) and through bookmakers’ websites worldwide.
Sunday September 10
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-2 Dave Chisnall
Danny Noppert 6-4 Cameron Menzies
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-3 Jose de Sousa
Josh Rock 6-5 Ryan Searle
Andrew Gilding 6-3 Florian Hempel
Stephen Bunting 6-1 Martin Schindler
Wesley Plaisier 6-5 Luke Humphries
Brian Raman 6-4 Nathan Aspinall
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-3 Danny Noppert
Josh Rock 6-5 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Stephen Bunting 6-5 Andrew Gilding
Wesley Plaisier 6-3 Brian Raman
Krzysztof Ratajski 7-4 Josh Rock
Stephen Bunting 7-6 Wesley Plaisier
Krzysztof Ratajski 8-3 Stephen Bunting