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PAUL NICHOLSON won his first tournament since last January with a 6-4 defeat of World Champion Adrian Lewis at Crawley^s K2 Centre on Saturday.

Nicholson^s last victory came in the televised Players Championship Finals in January 2010, but he had reached just two semi-finals since then in a struggle to recapture that form.

However, he battled through the field in Crawley to claim the £6,000 first prize, ending the day emotionally celebrating his first PDC ProTour win in the UK.

Nicholson began the day with a brace of 6-1 victories, over Jimmy Mann and Nicky Bache, before whitewashing Michael Mansell to reach the last 16.

After seeing off Scott Rand 6-3 and then overcoming Germany^s Michael Rosenauer 6-2 in the last eight, he edged out Gary Anderson 6-5 in the semis.

Nicholson held his own in the early stages of the final against Lewis, hitting legs of 13 and 15 darts to match 15-dart finishes from the World Champion as the opening four legs went with the throw.

Lewis took the fifth and then broke for the first time in leg six, finishing 70 for a 4-2 lead.

Nicholson, though, finished 68 to break back immediately and landed a 180 in levelling, before a 14-dart leg pushed him 5-4 up and double top secured the win.

Nicholson, who has moved from Newcastle to live with his brother in Chorley this year, admitted that winning his first Players Championship since the 2009 Australian Open was a huge relief.

"I means a massive amount to me," said Nicholson. "I^ve been playing well for the last eight weeks and worked very hard since I moved to Chorley, but it^s been a great move for me and I^m more focused on my darts now.

"I knew if I kept playing like I have been recently the results would come, and to win a Players Championship in the UK is very important.

"People said I was a one-hit wonder after the Players Championship Finals last year but I^ve had great support from a lot of people, like my manager Will, and this is as much for them as me.

"It feels great and although I rode my luck at times I took my chances, and I^m proud to have beaten the two players who I believe are the best floor players in the game at the moment, Adrian Lewis and Gary Anderson, along the way."

Lewis^ run to the decider continued his impressive start to the year, as he reached his third final in six events, and included wins over Ronnie Baxter, Wes Newton, Jelle Klaasen and Justin Pipe.

Anderson booked his semi-final place with a narrow win over Mark Walsh, having also defeated Kevin Painter in the last 16, while Baxter overcame Ireland^s William O^Connor in the quarter-finals.

Rosenauer^s run to the quarter-finals was his best performance for 18 months, and included victories against Steve Beaton and Nigel Heydon before he went down to Nicholson.

Players Championship 5 (Crawley, Saturday)
First Round
Simon Whitlock (1) Bye
Michael Barnard 6-5 Brendan Dolan
Nigel Heydon (32) 6-1 Gary Eastwood
Simon Jones 6-4 Prakash Jiwa
Steve Beaton (16) 6-4 Robert Thornton
Nick Fullwell 6-3 Matt Clark
Matthew Edgar 6-5 Andy Smith (17)
Michael Rosenauer 6-4 Terry Temple
Mark Webster (8) 6-5 Michael van Gerwen
Scott Rand 6-2 Steven Pearson
Terry Jenkins (25) 6-4 Tony Ayres
Mark Frost 6-5 James Richardson
Michael Mansell 6-2 Vincent van der Voort (9)
Matt Padgett 6-3 Wayne Mardle
Paul Nicholson (24) 6-1 Jimmy Mann
Nicky Bache 6-1 Ashley Holgate
Mark Walsh (5) Bye
Adrian Gray 6-5 Adam Hunt
Dennis Smith (28) 6-1 Shaun Griffiths
Roland Scholten 6-2 Peter Manley
Mervyn King (12) 6-0 Jon Archer
Peter Wright 6-4 Mick Todd
Wayne Jones (21) 6-2 Gary Welding
Gary Mawson 6-5 Darren Whittingham
Gary Anderson (4) Bye
John MaGowan 6-4 Andy Relf
Tony Eccles (29) 6-2 Wayne Atwood
Peter Hudson 6-1 Dyson Parody
Alan Tabern (13) 6-4 Steve Maish
Andy Brown 6-0 Paul Schofield
Kevin Painter (20) 6-0 Mike Gillet
Kevin Dowling 6-5 Andy Jenkins
Wes Newton (2) Bye
Dave Chisnall 6-1 Barrie Bates
Mark Dudbridge (31) 6-4 Kirk Shepherd
Dave Smith 6-5 Arron Monk
Kevin McDine 6-3 Denis Ovens (15)
Magnus Caris 6-1 Andy Hutchings
Co Stompe (18) 6-5 Geoff Whitworth
John Henderson 6-4 Aodhagan O^Neill
Colin Lloyd (7) Bye
Shane O^Connor 6-4 Darren Johnson
Jelle Klaasen (26) Bye (Tim Hope timed out)
Louis Blundell 6-0 Adrian Bolitho
Adrian Lewis (10) 6-1 Matt Jackson
Adam Smith-Neale 6-5 Brian Woods
Justin Pipe (23) 6-4 Alex Roy
Colin Monk 6-3 Simon Burt
Ronnie Baxter (6) Bye
Paul Rowley 6-0 Michael Venton
John Part (27) 6-1 Dave Ladley
Mark Hylton 6-4 Steve Hine
James Wade (11) 6-4 Ian Jopling
Mareno Michels 6-5 Joe Cullen
Steve Farmer (22) 6-1 Ryan Harrington
Devon Petersen 6-3 Mark Jones
Jamie Caven (3) Bye
Michael Smith 6-3 Jimmy O^Regan
Steve Brown (30) 6-2 Jason Crawley
Steve Evans 6-2 Steve Grubb
Stephen Hardy 6-5 Andy Hamilton (14)
William O^Connor 6-2 Reece Robinson
Colin Osborne (19) 6-5 Ian White
Chris Aubrey 6-1 Chris Thompson

Second Round
Simon Whitlock 6-2 Michael Barnard
Nigel Heydon 6-4 Simon Jones
Steve Beaton 6-5 Nick Fullwell
Michael Rosenauer 6-5 Matthew Edgar
Scott Rand 6-3 Mark Webster
Mark Frost 6-1 Terry Jenkins
Michael Mansell 6-0 Matt Padgett
Paul Nicholson 6-1 Nicky Bache
Mark Walsh 6-3 Adrian Gray
Dennis Smith 6-3 Roland Scholten
Peter Wright 6-4 Mervyn King
Wayne Jones 6-3 Gary Mawson
Gary Anderson 6-3 John MaGowan
Peter Hudson 6-2 Tony Eccles
Andy Brown 6-5 Alan Tabern
Kevin Painter 6-2 Kevin Dowling
Wes Newton 6-4 Dave Chisnall
Mark Dudbridge 6-4 Dave Smith
Kevin McDine 6-4 Magnus Caris
John Henderson 6-3 Co Stompe
Colin Loyd 6-0 Shane O^Connor
Jelle Klaasen 6-5 Louis Blundell
Adrian Lewis 6-2 Adam Smith-Neale
Justin Pipe 6-2 Colin Monk
Ronnie Baxter 6-3 Paul Rowley
John Part 6-4 Mark Hylton
Mareno Michels 6-2 James Wade
Steve Farmer 6-0 Devon Petersen
Jamie Caven 6-4 Michael Smith
Steve Evans 6-4 Steve Brown
William O^Connor 6-3 Stephen Hardy
Colin Osborne 6-3 Chris Aubrey
Losers £200

Third Round
Nigel Heydon 6-4 Simon Whitlock
Michael Rosenauer 6-4 Steve Beaton
Scott Rand 6-4 Mark Frost
Paul Nicholson 6-0 Michael Mansell
Mark Walsh 6-2 Dennis Smith
Wayne Jones 6-5 Peter Wright
Gary Anderson 6-3 Peter Hudson
Kevin Painter 6-3 Andy Brown
Wes Newton 6-5 Mark Dudbridge
John Henderson 6-2 Kevin McDine
Jelle Klaasen 6-5 Colin Lloyd
Adrian Lewis 6-5 Justin Pipe
Ronnie Baxter 6-4 John Part
Steve Farmer 6-4 Mareno Michels
Jamie Caven 6-3 Steve Evans
William O^Connor 6-4 Colin Osborne
Losers £400

Fourth Round
Michael Rosenauer 6-3 Nigel Heydon
Paul Nicholson 6-3 Scott Rand
Mark Walsh 6-3 Wayne Jones
Gary Anderson 6-3 Kevin Painter
Wes Newton 6-3 John Henderson
Adrian Lewis 6-3 Jelle Klaasen
Ronnie Baxter 6-3 Steve Farmer
William O^Connor 6-3 Jamie Caven
Losers £600

Paul Nicholson 6-2 Michael Rosenauer
Gary Anderson 6-5 Mark Walsh
Adrian Lewis 6-3 Wes Newton
Ronnie Baxter 6-3 William O^Connor
Losers £1,000

Paul Nicholson 6-5 Gary Anderson
Adrian Lewis 6-5 Ronnie Baxter
Losers £2,000

Paul Nicholson 6-4 Adrian Lewis
Winner £6,000
Runner-Up £3,000


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