Ladbrokes WDC Semi-Finals

December 30 2012

MICHAEL VAN GERWEN hit a spectacular nine-dart finish as he powered into the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship final, where he will meet Phil Taylor on Tuesday after the pair enjoyed victories over James Wade and Raymond van Barneveld.

Dutch star van Gerwen, October's World Grand Prix champion, brought a sell-out Alexandra Palace crowd to its feet with his nine-dart finish during the fifth set of his 6-4 semi-final win over Wade.

He hit 180 and 177 before taking out 144 to land the perfect leg, his second on television this year and also the second of this event, following Dean Winstanley's achievement in the second round.

Incredibly, van Gerwen opened the next leg with two 180s to set up another potential nine-darter, and hit treble 20 and treble 19 only to miss double 12 to create history - with no player previously having achieved two nine-darters in successive legs.

Van Gerwen had been leading 3-1 in sets at the time, but actually lost the fifth set as Wade hit back, with the left-hander also winning the sixth to level the game.

The Dutch star took the next two to move to the brink of victory, and although Wade kept the match alive by edging the ninth set in a deciding leg after van Gerwen missed one match dart, the 23-year-old raced through the next set without reply to secure his place in a first World Championship final.

"It wasn't about throwing the nine-darter but winning the game tonight - but to win the game with a nine-darter is amazing," said van Gerwen, who also hit a perfect leg in July's World Matchplay.

"It's even more special to hit the nine-darter in the World Championship because this is the biggest stage.

"It means a lot to me and I want to do well in the final as well because I'm one game away from the trophy and I need to do everything to win that.

"Phil is still the greatest player in the world because he's the 15-time World Champion but I'm playing very well at the moment.

Taylor, meanwhile, overcame Raymond van Barneveld 6-4 in their semi-final as he remains on course to claim his 16th World Championship title - although he was given some nervous moments by the Dutchman's fightback from four sets down.

Taylor won six of the game's first seven legs to take a two-set lead, and although van Barneveld took the third set, it was the Stoke ace who pulled clear to win the next three in ruthless fashion and move 5-1 up.

However, two missed match darts at tops in the seventh set allowed van Barneveld to hit back before the five-time World Champion then took the next two sets to raise hopes of completing an amazing fightback.

Taylor, though, regained his range to take the tenth set 3-1 and secure his spot in the decider.

"It's brilliant to be through and I'm relieved," said Taylor. "If Raymond had won that tenth set to get back to five-all he might have beaten me, and I put everything I could into that set.

"The two darts at double top to win the match knocked me back for a couple of sets but they were right on the wire. Raymond hit some great doubles with his last dart and I'm over the moon to be into the final.

"Michael's playing some of the best darts I've ever seen from anybody in my career. At the minute he's phenomenal and it's going to take every ounce of energy and concentration to beat him."

Taylor also moved to calm any suggestions of a rift with van Barneveld following their semi-final after the pair exchanged words on stage following a misunderstanding as they shook hands at the end of the game.

"He was gutted to lose and I was over the moon to win, but there's no animosity between us," said Taylor. "I'm probably Barney's biggest fan and I love him to bits."

Both Taylor and van Gerwen will enjoy a rest day on Monday before returning to Alexandra Palace on New Year's Day to contest the final, where the champion will become the first winner of the Sid Waddell Trophy and a £200,000 first prize.

Taylor remains the favourite to take the title with odds of 8/13 with sponsors Ladbrokes, with van Gerwen a 5/4 chance of lifting his first World Championship crown - while odds of 6/1 are available for a nine-dart finish in the final.

The final will be shown live on Sky Sports HD and Sky 3D on Tuesday, with the 3D commentary to include a return to broadcasting from the legendary Dave Lanning.

Ladbrokes World Darts Championship
Semi-Finals

Michael van Gerwen 6-4 James Wade
Phil Taylor 6-4 Raymond van Barneveld
Best of 11 sets, best of five legs per set

Match Reports
Michael van Gerwen 6-4 James Wade
(2-3, 3-0, 3-0, 3-0, 2-3, 0-3, 3-1, 3-2, 2-3, 3-0)

MICHAEL VAN GERWEN stormed into his first Ladbrokes World Championship final by ending James Wade's hopes with a stunning nine-dart finish during his 6-4 semi-final victory.

Van Gerwen wrote his name into the tournament's history books alongside Raymond van Barneveld, Adrian Lewis and Dean Winstanley by hitting his perfect leg at Alexandra Palace - and missed double 12 in the following leg to his another nine-dart finish!

Incredibly Wade took the fifth set as he pulled back from 3-1 down to level the match at three-all, but the Dutch youngster took three of the game's final four sets to book his place in the decider and condemn Wade to a third semi-final defeat in the tournament.

"The nine-darter was brilliant but tonight was about winning the match and reaching the final and I'm delighted to have done that," said van Gerwen, who hit 14 maximums in the game.

"It’s amazing to hit a perfect leg of darts in the biggest tournament of all, and I nearly did it again in the following leg!

"But I'm more pleased that I've managed to reach the final of the World Championship, which has been a dream of mine since I was very young.

"I had big expectations of myself coming into this tournament, and it's great to keep the run going after winning the World Grand Prix in October and reaching the final of the Grand Slam of Darts last month."

Van Gerwen hit a 180 in the opening leg but saw Wade hit double top to edge ahead  win the leg in 14 darts, and the Aldershot ace was gifted the second after his opponent opened with scores of 180 and 140 only to miss a total of 11 darts at doubles.

Van Gerwen recovered to win the third leg with a 13-darter and took out 68 to win the fourth, before Wade hit a clinical 105 finish to win the set.

The 23-year-old Dutchman, who came through an amazing quarter-final clash against Adrian Lewis, hit a fifth 180 at the start of the second set, before converting a 104 finish to win the opening leg.

Van Gerwen broke throw by taking out 96 in the second for a 14-darter, before winning the third leg on tops to level the match, after Wade missed three attempts at the same double.

Van Gerwen continued his fine form at the start of the third set as won the first two legs with finishes of 90 and 78 for legs of 12 and 14 darts, before hitting another 180 in the third leg to wrap up the set in only 40 darts as he took the lead.

Van Gerwen's dominance continued in the fourth set as he took out three more legs without reply to extend his run to nine successive legs in taking a 3-1 advantage.

Wade stopped the rot at the start of the fifth set by landing double ten with his third dart, before taking out 82 in the second leg to break his opponent's throw and move two legs up in the set.

Van Gerwen, though, replied in majestic fashion as he opened the third leg with scores of 180 and 177 to set up the possibility of a nine-dart finish, and he calmly slotted home two treble 20s and double 12 for the 144 checkout for a moment of history.

Incredibly, the number seven seed then opened the next leg with back-to-back 180s to put himself within touching distance of becoming the first player in history to hit two successive nine-darters.

He hit the treble 20 and treble 19 of the 141 finish, but narrowly missed double 12 for another perfect leg, returning to hit double three for a 12-dart leg to level the set - only for Wade to win the deciding leg with a fine 120 checkout to cut the gap to 3-2 after the Dutchman missed a dart at the bullseye.

The world number three started the sixth set well by breaking throw on double ten to win the first leg, before landing double 12 to take the second in 13 darts.

The third leg saw Wade hit 162 to leave 40, and he won the leg on double ten for a 14-darter to level the match and bring the capacity Alexandra Palace crowd to its feet once again.

Van Gerwen broke throw at the beginning of set seven with a 14-darter, but wasted three chances to take the second leg, which Wade won on double two.

The third leg saw Wade miss a dart at double 12 to hit the front, and van Gerwen landed double 16, with an accurate third dart, to break throw for the second time in the set, before finishing tops to move 4-3 up.

Van Gerwen hit 180s in back-to-back 13-darters as he opened up a 2-0 lead in the eighth set, only to miss three darts at tops in the third leg as Wade hit back to level with a 68 finish and double ten.

The deciding leg, though, crucially fell to the Dutchman as he took out another 13-darter to move a set away from a place in the final.

Wade won the first leg of the set nine on double ten, before van Gerwen flirted with the possibility of another nine-dart finish when he hit consecutive 180s.

His seventh attempt at the treble 20 fell low of the target, but the Dutchman went on to win the leg on double five.

Wade successfully landed double ten to win the third leg, before van Gerwen converted an 84 finish in the next, to go a leg away from victory - only to miss a dart at tops for the match in the deciding leg as the left-hander checked out 70 to keep his hopes alive.

Van Gerwen replied well by landing double 12 to make a positive start to the tenth set and then broke throw in the second, thanks to an accurate attempt at double eight, before making no mistake in wrapping up the triumph at the second time of asking by posting double eight to win the set without reply.

Match Stats

Michael van Gerwen 6-4 James Wade
55 100+ 49
22 140+ 23
1 170+ 2
14 180 1
97.87 Average 87.37
144, 104 High Finish 120, 105
10 Legs Against Throw 6
38% Finishing % 39%

Phil Taylor 6-4 Raymond van Barneveld
(3-0, 3-1, 0-3, 3-0, 3-1, 3-2, 2-3, 0-3, 2-3, 3-1)

PHIL TAYLOR survived a major scare before overcoming Raymond van Barneveld 6-4 triumph to reach his first Ladbrokes World Darts Championship final in three years.

The 15-time World Champion looked on course for comfortable passage into the decider against Michael van Gerwen when he took a 5-1 lead, only to miss two darts at double top to seal victory in the next set.

Van Barneveld hit back to take the seventh set and the next two to reduce the gap to 5-4 and leave Taylor nervously biting his flights.

However, the world number one recovered to take the tenth set 3-1 to end his rival's hopes of winning a sixth World Championship title and set up a clash with another Dutch ace, van Gerwen, on Tuesday.

"We were both trying so hard to win that match, and Raymond came back at me superbly," admitted the world number one.

"Barney certainly wasn’t himself in the early part of the match, his head dropped quite early on and I took out some good finishes.

"The crowd stayed with him and he seemed to draw confidence from that as his game picked up again, and he looked unstoppable for a while.

"I put every bit of energy I had in me to win that tenth set and I'm glad I did because I think if Raymond had won it to go five-all he would have won the match."

Taylor stamped his authority in the match straight away by taking out 79 to win the opening leg against the darts, before hitting double top to win the next two legs as he won the first set without reply.

The 15-time World Champion also took the opening two legs of the second set before van Barneveld landed double eight to get a leg on the board with a 14-dart finish.

Van Barneveld also recorded a 180 in the fourth leg, but Taylor took out 107 to win the set in style and leave van Barneveld under pressure.

The Dutch ace won the first leg of set three on double eight, before breaking Taylor's throw for the first time on double ten in leg two and finishing 62 in the third to win his first set of the game.

Taylor responded to win the fourth set's opener before folloing a 174 score with a fabulous 141 checkout in the second leg and a 111 finish to take the set in the third leg, despite van Barneveld posting a 180.

Van Barneveld kicked off the fifth set in great style as he hit a 136 checkout, before Taylor hit a 180 in the process of taking the second leg.

Taylor broke throw in the third leg thanks to a 90 finish for an 11-darter, and the Stoke ace took out 78 in two-darts to move three sets clear, after van Barneveld was off-target with two attempts at double 15.

Taylor claimed an early advantage in the sixth set as he won the opening two legs, but van Barneveld took out 70 to win the third leg, after the world number was off-target with a dart at bullseye to win the set.

Van Barneveld won the fourth leg on double five, but Taylor took the fifth against the darts, thanks to an accurate attempt at double eight, to move 5-1 up.

Taylor hit his third 180 of the match in the process of taking the first leg of set seven, before van Barneveld hit a superb 12-darter, which included two maximums, to reply.

The Dutchman thenhit double top to win the third leg and looked on course to win the fourth after leaving 40 after 12 darts, only to Taylor to take out a 107 finish to level and put himself a leg away from the match.

Taylor looked to have game wrapped up the deciding leg, but two missed darts at double top were costly as van Barneveld took out a clinical 66 finish in two darts to extend the match.

Two missed darts at double eight from Taylor in the eighth set's opener allowed van Barneveld an opportunity at the same double, which he duly converted.

The Grand Slam of Darts champion took out a 64 finish to win the second leg, before landing double 11 with a pressure third dart to win the set without reply, after Taylor missed a dart at tops for a 154 checkout.

Taylor broke throw on double four at the start of the ninth set, and was in command of the second leg after hitting scores of 174 and 177, only to miss two more darts at double as van Barneveld finished an audacious 125 finish with a bullseye, outer-bull, bullseye combination.

The next two legs were shared before van Barneveld took out 68 in the deciding leg, thanks to an accurate third dart at double two, to cut the gap to 5-4.

Taylor won the first leg of the tenth set on double 16, but missed three chances to break in the next, as van Barneveld took out 62 in two darts to level.

Taylor, though, hit a fourth 180 in the third leg and took a 2-1 lead by finishing a showpiece 100 checkout with two double tops before punishing two misses from the Dutchman in the next by converting a 68 checkout to take the match.

Taylor admitted: "I'm glad to have the day off now before the final so I get the chance to recharge my batteries because I've been under the weather and I was shattered.

"I think Michael is playing the best darts I've seen from anybody in 25 years, he's brilliant at the moment.

"For him to hit a nine-darter in a World Championship semi-final, and come back in the next leg and miss double 12 to record another, is just astonishing!"

Taylor also moved to calm any suggestions of a rift with van Barneveld following their semi-final after the pair exchanged words on stage following a misunderstanding as they shook hands at the end of the game.

"He was gutted to lose and I was over the moon to win, but there's no animosity between us," said Taylor. "I'm probably Barney's biggest fan and I love him to bits."

Match Stats

Phil Taylor 6-4 Raymond van Barneveld
46 100+ 53
21 140+ 32
8 170+ 0
4 180 9
98.98 Average 96.74
141, 111, 107, 100 High Finish 136, 125
10 Legs Against Throw 7
41% Finishing % 39%

Watch Live!
The Ladbrokes World Darts Championship will be live in its entirety on Sky Sports HD, with the semi-finals and final also on Sky 3D.

Fans can also watch live coverage through the following international broadcasters:
RTL7 Netherlands
Sport1 Germany
Fox Sports Australia
Sky New Zealand
OSN across Middle East
Sport1 Czech Republic, Slovakia & Hungary
LIVEPDC.TV - fans outside of the UK, Ireland and Holland can watch the entire tournament live through LIVEPDC.TV with an International Pass subscription - and there's currently a special two-for-one offer for fans to sign up to LIVEPDC.TV !

Highlights from every game are also available in LIVEPDC.TV on a 24-hour delay basis.

Get Involved!
Join the conversation on Twitter throughout the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship by using #Ladbrokesdarts.

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Live Stats
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