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Littler falls to Heta in thrilling quarter-final at UK Open

Luke Littler’s pursuit of a first major PDC title was ended by Damon Heta in a high-quality quarter-final at the UK Open.

Littler – runner-up to Luke Humphries in January’s World Championship before winning the Bahrain Darts Masters later that month – was downed 10-8 by the Australian in Minehead on Sunday.

The 17-year-old found himself 9-6 down to Heta but fought back and seemed poised to set up a last-leg decider before squandering two darts at double 10 for 9-9.

Heta returned to take out double 16, his fourth match dart, to progress to the evening’s semi-finals alongside world No 1 Humphries and Ricky Evans, with the winner of Dimitri Van den Bergh and Martin Lukeman to join them.

Heta averaged 106.04 compared to Littler’s 104.77, while his checkout success of 48 per cent was eight better than Littler’s during a classic encounter at Butlin’s.

The Heat said afterwards: “Luke has taken the media and darts by storm. I love him to bits, it’s a massive boost for darts… but for myself I know what I am up against. These are the guys I need to beat.”

Humphries kicked off the afternoon session with an 8-2 demolition of Cazoo Masters champion Stephen Bunting, before Evans overcame Rob Cross 10-7 to reach his maiden major PDC semi-final.

Image: Luke Humphries demolished Stephen Bunting 10-2 in Sunday’s first quarter-final

The UK Open, dubbed the FA Cup of darts due to its open draw, was won in 2023 by Andrew Gilding as he beat Michael van Gerwen 11-10 to claim his first televised title.

Gilding was dumped out in the fifth round this year following a 10-1 thrashing at the hands of 2017 champion Peter Wright, while three-time winner Van Gerwen was dispatched a round earlier, beaten 10-7 by Mensur Suljovic.

Littler, who knocked out James Wade, Martin Schindler and Dave Chisnall to reach the quarter-finals in Minehead, will return to action on night six of the Premier League in Brighton on Thursday, live on Sky Sports Action and Sky Sports Arena from 7pm.

Premier League, Night Six – Thursday, March 7

Quarter-finals
Luke Humphries vs Gerwyn Price
Rob Cross vs Michael van Gerwen
Nathan Aspinall vs Luke Littler
Michael Smith vs Peter Wright

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