After stunning the darts world in December 2017 with his charge to the biggest prize in the game, Rob Cross is enjoying his time without the glare of the spotlight on him. But that doesn’t mean he’s not focused on winning in 2019.
Far from it.
“I’m top of the averages in the Premier League. I’m top in the Pro Tour events and all – but I still haven’t won one!”
“The difference for me this year is that I’m a lot more relaxed than last. I’m playing better darts, I’m practising hard now and have a normal routine. It means I’m looking forward to the match against Michael van Gerwen tonight because it’ll show where my game is at.”
His scoring has been the best in the Premier League through two weeks, though it’ll have to remain high with him facing the 2019 world champ tonight.
“I’m hitting a lot of 100 averages and I’ve been improving every week from what I can see.”
“Michael’s number one in the world for a reason. You’ve always got to play well to get close to winning against him. It’s going to be an interesting game. I think I’m going to do alright.
“I’m working very hard – what I put in is what I get out. If I practice and I work hard at it, and I believe that I deserve to be there and deserve to win. It changes your mental approach to games. I know I’m going to create chances tonight against Michael, but I have to take them.”
“If I don’t I’m going to walk off a loser. That’s the difference.”
The biggest change for him this year is not being the reigning world champion.
“After I won it, I was approached differently by everyone. Life changed more-or-less overnight! Was I ready for those changes? Definitely not.”
“At the same time, it was a harsh learning curve. Now, this year, whatever happens, I know I won’t be so uptight about it. I’ll be relaxed and I’ll just keep moving forward. This year – well, it can’t get any worse than I how I felt last year at points. I think I’ll have a good season now I’ve got my normal routine.”
And he’s started it well, with a win over James Wade and a draw against Peter Wright putting him third in the league, and he could’ve even been top going to Dublin, but he’s philosophical.
“Of course, I didn’t want a draw [against Peter Wright], we all don’t want certain results when they happen, but if I look back at last year’s Premier League and how I started, I lost my opening two games. Now I’m sitting three points in front of what I had then.”
“Obviously, it’s better now. I’m playing more consistently, I feel different. I think I’m back to near where I want to be.”
“In another couple of weeks I’ll be even better again, and if I do that I’ll have a great chance of qualifying for finals night and winning TV events.”
And the experience of 2018 could set him up for a run at the Premier League crown this season.
“Last year I found it more tiring than anything because I didn’t really know what was happening. You just worry about more things – how am I getting from A to B every week, for instance. Things I wasn’t used to thinking about from week-to-week.”
“And I was trying to get a game out of myself but I probably wasn’t trying my hardest to practice that right. That can be difficult.”
“This year, I’m just relaxed with it. It’s all about going in there and trying to put a show on, picking up points if you can and aiming for that end result and finals night!”