Michael van Gerwen ‘struggling’ after being upstaged by Luke Littler and Stephen Bunting | Other | Sport

Michael van Gerwen admits he is ‘struggling’ for form after suffering another crushing defeat, this time to Stephen Bunting, in the final of the Cazoo Masters on Sunday. The Dutchman has endured a laboured start to his 2024 campaign.

Van Gerwen was defeated by teenage darts sensation at the Bahrain Masters last month and although he was able to exact his revenge on the 17-year-old in the Netherlands a week later he hasn’t been able to kick on from the result.

The 34-year-old followed up the triumph in his home country with a narrow loss to Michael Smith in the Premier League before succumbing to another defeat at the hands of Bunting. Speaking after his most recent shortcoming, Van Gerwen said: “Fair play to Stephen, he played really well throughout the tournament.

“I think just before the last break, I was playing a little bit better than him, but I couldn’t make the difference. He kept producing the 140s and he put me under a lot of pressure. He has worked really hard for this, and it’s a nice moment for him.

“There is lots more to come from me, but I am not in form yet. I’m still struggling here and there. I know I can do a lot better, but I want to give Stephen the credit because he had a really good tournament.”

Van Gerwen walked through his opposition en route to the final in Milton Keynes but came unstuck against Bunting. The Englishman was in sensational form as he averaged 102 in the title match to clinch his first televised PDC title 11-7.

“I’m lost for words,” an emotional Bunting said after the game. “This just shows my hard work is paying off, and it’s a great start to the season. Hopefully, I can push on from this.

“My main aim when I moved over from the BDO was to win big titles, but you’re playing the best of the best, and you’re going to be pushed all the way.”

“Michael is a multiple world champion. He’s a fantastic player,” Bunting added. “I’ve beaten Luke Humphries this weekend, and I’ve beaten Peter Wright and Nathan Aspinall – all Premier League players. That is where I want to get my game back to so let’s see what happens in the future, but I really think I deserve this trophy.”

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