The odds for Rob Cross to get back to the final are tasty 7 months ago

The odds for Rob Cross to get back to the final are tasty

Feelin' hot hot hot.

Rob Cross is back and he's looking like he's back to where he left off last year.

Since stunning the entire darts-loving planet in January and beautifully ruining Phil Taylor's farewell, Cross struggled to back up his World Darts Championship title with another win throughout 2018 but he got his defence off to a fine start on Thursday night with an impressive 3-1 win over Jeffrey De Zwaan.

The champion lost the first set on straight legs and then just shifted gears and wiped the Dutch man from the tournament. He had that cheeky little smirk back on his face, the bobbing head and the unbelievable skill to see out the second round clash, at one stage hitting the bull to finish a magical 121 checkout.

However, that Cross made that opening game look relatively comfortable with three successive sets is testament only to his ability. De Zwaan had nothing short of hot hands and, in fact, he posted a ridiculous average of 106.09 - the second highest losing average in the tournament's history.

The only loser to ever top that was Raymond van Barneveld in the 2017 final when his average would've broken a record on its own but he was playing Michael van Gerwen who broke the record better in the exact same game.

So for Cross to finish off a player in the sort of form the Dutch man was in on the night and to do it with three sets in a row is pure, nerveless skill and it should be respected.

So should his odds to reach the final.

Paddy Power are offering 7/2 on Rob Cross to reach the decider again and, not to sound all England football team on you, he's in the good half of the draw.

He's on course to meet Mensur Suljovic in the quarter-finals and then probably either Peter Wright or Gerwyn Price in the semis. On the other half of the draw, you have van Gerwen. You have Gary Anderson. You have Raymond van Barneveld. Daryl Gurney who's absolutely flying. James Wade for good measure.

Daryl Gurney's odds to win the whole thing are set at 25/1 and they're tempting but, Christ, he has a minefield to get through.

The safe bet is to back Cross to make it back to the final and just assume Michael van Gerwen will join him there because he's Michael van Gerwen.

At 7/2 and 10/11, you'd get yourself a nice double there and another reason to get sucked into the best thing about Christmas.