PHIL TAYLOR is now just two wins away from claiming a 17th and final William Hill World Darts Championship after disposing of Gary Anderson in Friday's quarter-finals, where Michael van Gerwen won a thriller and Rob Cross and Jamie Lewis secured last-four spots.

On a dramatic quarter-finals day at Alexandra Palace, retiring star Taylor again captured the headlines as his bid to end his glittering career with one final triumph.

Taylor's consistency was key as he punished Anderson early on to go 4-1 up, which proved to be too much of a gap for the two-time World Champion to bridge despite a valiant effort from the Scot, who had appeared in the last three finals.

The legendary 57-year-old could be on a collision course with Van Gerwen in the decider after the defending champion emerged with a 5-4 win from a toe-to-toe clash with fellow Dutchman Raymond van Barneveld.

Taylor, the 16-time World Champion, can still finish his career in the best possible fashion as he averaged 102, hit 12 180s and more importantly took out some crucial finishes, including a 126 in seeing off Anderson in a repeat of the 2015 final.

All the damage was done early as Taylor managed to win six legs on the spin when compiling that 4-1 advantage and, although Anderson came firing back with consecutive sets, he fell just short.

"It was a struggle, my energy levels went towards the end, but I knew I just had to keep putting him under pressure," said Taylor, who now faces Jamie Lewis for a place in the final. 

"I think the pressure's off me and on the other players, and that's what I thought with Gary. He's defending a World Championship money-wise, and it could drop him down the rankings so there's a lot more pressure.

"It's the greatest feeling in the world and I'm going to miss it after next week but I've been around for 30 years now.

"I'm absolutely fine and I'm loving it."

Lewis is next up for Taylor after the young Welshman became the first preliminary round winner to ever make the semi-finals with a 5-0 whitewash of Darren Webster.

Lewis only got a chance to make the event after Dimitri Van den Bergh became World Youth Champion to open up an extra space in the PDPA Qualifiers, but after winning a third-place play-off the youngster has turned that chance into a truly special run.

"I can't believe it," said Lewis, who will pocket at least £85,000 from the tournament. "I came into this hoping to have a good run but to make the semis is a dream come true.

"I still think there's room for improvement, but I know if I get into the right flow I can play as good as anybody.

"I thought it was going to be really close, but luckily I took out the right shots at the right time."

The meeting between Van Gerwen and Van Barneveld did not draw the record-breaking averages and huge scoring of their epic meeting 12 months ago, but was equally dramatic as the reigning champion was continually pegged back by his rival.

Van Gerwen averaged 103 to Van Barneveld's 98, but the drama was more significant than the stats as the world number one missed a dart to lead 4-1 before watching the five-time World Champion draw level at 3-3.

With 18 breaks of throw anything could happen at any time - Van Gerwen missed a dart for the match to allow Van Barneveld to level, before the more experienced man missed three key darts at double 16 in the final set as he fell to an agonising defeat.

"In the beginning I didn't feel too well, Raymond was playing well and I was struggling a little bit," said Van Gerwen. 

"But I think everyone could only dream about a quarter-final like this as we both averaged quite a good standard and we both hit big finishes at the right time."

Shooting star Rob Cross' World Championship debut continues into the last four after the former electrician, who had risen to 20th in the world on his debut year as a professional, overcame Dimitri Van den Bergh in another nine-set epic.

Cross was in control at 4-1 ahead only to see World Youth Champion Van den Bergh come storming back to tie the game up at four-all with some sensational darts.

Cross, though, regained his composure to claim the deciding set and win through to the semi-finals, where he now faces Van Gerwen in a repeat of October's European Championship final.

"Honestly, the best player lost," said a magnanimous Cross. "I don't know what happened but I just felt lethargic and I went inside myself and it wasn't good enough.

"I just wasn't right, for whatever reason and Dimitri kept punishing me, fair play to him he was brilliant."

Van Gerwen is now the 8/15 tournament favourite with sponsors William Hill, with Taylor 3/1, Cross 8/1 and Lewis the 12/1 outsider after starting the event at 500/1 to claim the title.

William Hill World Darts Championship
Friday December 29
Quarter-Finals

Afternoon Session
Jamie Lewis 5-0 Darren Webster
Dimitri Van den Bergh 4-5 Rob Cross

Evening Session
Michael van Gerwen 5-4 Raymond van Barneveld
Phil Taylor 5-3 Gary Anderson

Saturday December 30 (7.30pm)
Semi-Finals
Jamie Lewis v Phil Taylor
Michael van Gerwen v Rob Cross
Best of 11 sets

CLICK HERE FOR MATCH STATS FROM SPORTRADAR

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TICKETS
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MATCH REPORTS

Jamie Lewis
Jamie Lewis (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)
Darren Webster
Darren Webster (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)
Jamie Lewis 5-0 Darren Webster

(3-1, 3-0, 3-1, 3-1, 3-2)
JAMIE LEWIS continued his dream run at the William Hill World Darts Championship as his dominant 5-0 win over Darren Webster saw him become the first preliminary round winner to ever reach the semi-finals.

The young Welshman only got a chance to make the event after Dimitri Van den Bergh became World Youth Champion to open up an extra space in the PDPA Qualifier, where Lewis won the third-place play-off, but he's turned that chance into a truly special run.

Lewis has been hitting 180s for fun throughout the tournament and he again found the treble 20 with ease as he compiled 14 maximums to average 101 - ten points more than Webster.

The scoring power of Lewis, who also hit 16 scores of 140 or more, earned him a let-off for some missed doubles, while he did not need a checkout higher than 71 as Webster won just five legs. 

The performance of Lewis would be welcomed by any of the sport's top stars, as he secured a semi-final place against either Phil Taylor or Gary Anderson.

A 13-darter delivered the opening set for the loss of just one leg, and Lewis stuck another in at the start of a 3-0 whitewash in the second as Webster struggled to get a chance.

Lewis hit four 180s in the third set, where Webster could again get just one leg on the board, and it was a similar story in the fourth as Lewis moved to the brink of a famous victory.

Despite hitting two 180s in the fifth set's opener, Lewis missed double 16 to allow Webster to take out 81 - the game's highest checkout - only for the Welshman to respond with a 12-darter.

Nerves started to show as Webster won two legs in a set for the first time to force a decider, but a miss at tops to extend the match allowed Lewis back in to seal his first televised semi-final in the sport's biggest event.

"I can't believe it," said Lewis, who will pocket at least £85,000 from the tournament. "I came into this hoping to have a good run but to make the semis is a dream come true.

"I still think there's room for improvement, but I know if I get into the right flow I can play as good as anybody.

"I thought it was going to be really close, but luckily I took out the right shots at the right time.

"I'm looking forward to the semi-finals. I've got nothing to lose now I'm in the semi-finals so whoever I play, if I can just go up there and play my own game."

Rob Cross
Rob Cross (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)
Dimitri Van den Bergh
Dimitri Van den Bergh (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)

Dimitri Van den Bergh 4-5 Rob Cross
(0-3, 2-3, 3-2, 2-3, 0-3, 3-0, 3-1, 3-1, 1-3)
ROB CROSS emerged from a titanic struggle with Dimitri Van den Bergh with a place in the William Hill World Darts Championship semi-finals after surviving an epic comeback with a 5-4 victory.

Such is the standard in darts these days that an Alexandra Palace debutant in his first year as a professional and the World Youth Champion served up as good a game as you'll see in the World Championship.

There was just a point between them in the averages, with Van den Bergh slightly better at 98.6, while he hit 13 maximums to 11 from Cross, but stats only tell half the story as this one was all about colossal swings in momentum.

Cross took control and was cruising at 4-1 up only for the 23-year-old Belgian to come roaring back, winning nine of 11 legs with eight 180s and a 134 checkout to level at 4-4.

Van den Bergh made it a ninth leg out of 12 played at the start of the deciding set, which incredibly put him ahead in the match for the very first time after over an hour-and-a-half of play.

Despite watching such a lead fall apart, Cross somehow rebounded with a 180 followed by 81 checkout to get back on terms, before taking out 89 in the next after Van den Bergh had missed three doubles.

Van den Bergh bagged a 180 in the fourth leg, but as nerves frayed the Belgian missed five doubles, while Cross missed two match darts before returning and eventually hitting double one for victory.

"Honestly, the best player lost," said Cross, who now plays Michael van Gerwen or Raymond van Barneveld. "This man hit me with everything - and what a lovely fella he is as well.

"He's brilliant, he's going to be special. I just wasn't right, for whatever reason and Dimitri kept punishing me - fair play to him, he was brilliant.

"I don't know what happened but I just felt lethargic and I went inside myself and it wasn't good enough. I'm happy to win, but it's got to get better tomorrow."

Van den Bergh earned as much credit in defeat as Cross did in victory, and with that sort of fighting spirit he will have a huge future in the sport.

"I went 4-1 down but I kept telling myself, and so did my father, keep your chin up, keep battling, it's not over until the fifth set is won," said Van den Bergh. 

"So I just thought I'd enjoy it and keep battling but it wasn't to be this time. But I hope this guy can go all the way - I love Rob to bits.

"My ambition is to continue doing what I'm doing and climb up the rankings."

Cross insists that regardless of which Dutch superpower he is up against in the semi-finals, he has the game to challenge if he can play his best.

"It doesn't matter who I play," he added. "If I play my game the way I usually do, then I've got a chance."

Michael van Gerwen
Michael van Gerwen (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)
Raymond van Barneveld
Raymond van Barneveld (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)

Michael van Gerwen 5-4 Raymond van Barneveld
(3-2, 1-3, 3-2, 3-1, 2-3, 1-3, 3-1, 2-3, 3-1)
MICHAEL VAN GERWEN came through a Dutch dogfight against Raymond van Barneveld with a thrilling 5-4 victory in their quarter-final encounter at the William Hill World Darts Championship.

Whilst the game did not feature the record averages and massive scoring of their last meeting 12 months ago, but it was a drama-packed match that saw two-time World Champion Van Gerwen continually pegged back by a determined Van Barneveld.

The defending champion averaged 103 to his rival's 98, but the drama was more significant than the stats as Van Gerwen missed a dart to lead 4-1 before watching the five-time World Champion draw level at 3-3.

With 18 breaks of throw anything could happen at any time - with Van Gerwen missing a dart for the match in set eight to allow Van Barneveld to level, before three missed double 16s in the final set by the 50-year-old spelled the end of his challenge.

A scratchy opening set eventually went Van Gerwen's way in the fifth leg as every leg went against the throw and Van Barneveld missed three darts for the set.

A superb 121 checkout did bring Van Barneveld the second set, but in the third his wasteful double hitting cost him again as he missed another two set darts and Van Gerwen nipped in to lead 2-1.

Van Barneveld at this stage had missed more shots at double than Van Gerwen had thrown, but it was to get worse as the top seed finally found some of his best form to rattle through the fourth set.

Leading 3-1 gave Van Gerwen the buffer he needed and when he then went 2-0 up in the fifth he looked home and dry, but Van Barneveld was not finished as he rediscovered his finishing touch to take out 56, 81 and a key 101 under pressure to pinch the set.

From the brink of being 4-1 up, Van Gerwen found himself level at three-all despite hitting an 11-darter in the sixth set, as Van Barneveld took out 91 and 121 as both men produced some real quality.

Van Gerwen nudged ahead again for 4-3, and at 2-2 in the eighth he missed double 12 for the match allowing Van Barneveld to take out 84 for a 12-dart break of throw - and more importantly level again at 4-4.

However, it would be Van Gerwen's night as the reigning champion claimed the deciding set 3-1 to move into the last four.

"I'm glad I came out the winner," said Van Gerwen. "In the beginning I didn't feel too well, Raymond was playing well and I was struggling a little bit.

"But I think everyone could only dream about a quarter-final like this as we both averaged quite a good standard and we both hit big finishes at the right time.

"Raymond played really well, I didn't expect him to keep his motivation up so long, normally he shakes his head if he's behind but he didn't do that."

Next up in the semi-final is rising superstar Rob Cross, who has fired himself to prominence this year but has not yet conquered the World Champion in a big event.

"Rob Cross is a phenomenal player, what he did this year is fantastic, but still he's never beaten me yet on television," added Van Gerwen.

"I hope I can keep up my good performance because he's a fabulous player. What he's done this year is phenomenal. I know I need to raise my game and I'm sure I will."

Phil Taylor
Phil Taylor (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)
Gary Anderson
Gary Anderson (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)
Phil Taylor 5-3 Gary Anderson

(3-1, 2-3, 3-0, 3-2, 3-0, 1-3, 2-3, 3-2) 
THE William Hill World Darts Championship dream is still alive for Phil Taylor after he defeated Gary Anderson 5-3 in the quarter-final to maintain his pursuit of a perfect ending to his career.

The 16-time champion can still finish the sport's greatest-ever career in the best possible fashion as he proved just too good for two-time World Champion Anderson with a 102 average and 12 180s in the repeat of their 2015 final.

All the damage was done early as Taylor managed to move 4-1 in front thanks to six legs on the spin, and although Anderson came firing back the Scot found the lead insurmountable.

After handing Anderson the throw in typical fashion, Taylor also typically threw a 180 and secured a break in the opening leg as he went on to take the first set despite an 11-darter from Anderson.

The second set went the distance after Anderson blew a 2-0 lead, but he redeemed himself with a 101 finish in the decider, only to be blown away in the third by a Taylor clean sweep.

Anderson again blew a 2-0 lead in set four as Taylor embarked on a run of six straight legs that took him into what looked an unassailable 4-1 lead.

The Scot launched his comeback with a 115 outshot in a fifth set took in four legs, but some real drama emerged in the sixth as Taylor took out 126 for a break to give him the chance to throw for the match.

Taylor kicked off with a 180 but Anderson matched that before taking the leg and claiming the decider to extend the tie further by making it 4-3.

A 12-darter put Taylor on the brink at 2-1 in the eighth set, and he almost brought the house down when just missing tops for a 129 checkout before Anderson forced a deciding leg.

Again Taylor missed tops for the match, but Anderson could not finish and when Taylor returned he made no mistake to book his place in yet another semi-final.

"It was a struggle - my energy levels went towards the end, but I knew I just had to keep putting him under pressure," said Taylor, who now faces Jamie Lewis for a place in the final. 

"It's the greatest feeling in the world and I'm going to miss it after next week but I've been around for 30 years now.

"I think the pressure's off me and on the other players, and that's what I thought with Gary. He's defending a World Championship money-wise, and it could drop him down the rankings so there's a lot more pressure.

"I haven't got that pressure on me now. I've got every admiration for Gary Anderson."

WATCH LIVE
The William Hill World Darts Championship will be broadcast live worldwide through the following broadcast partners:
PDCTV-HD - PDC Website for Rest of the World Subscribers
Sky Sports - UK & Ireland – dedicated “Sky Sports Darts” channel
RTL7 - Netherlands
Sport1 - Germany
DAZN - Germany, Austria, Switzerland Japan, Canada
Fox Sports - Australia
Sky - New Zealand
Nova - Czech Republic
Viasat - Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Bulgaria, Baltic States
Pragosport - Hungary
OSN - Middle East & North Africa
Kwese - South Africa & Sub-Saharan Africa
Eleven Sports - Belgium
BBC America - North America (excluding Canada)
Fox - Italy, Greece, Turkey, Malta, Israel
TVP - Poland
CCTV - China
RTL - Croatia (Dec 28 onwards)
Eurosport - France, Romania, Spain
Eurosport Player - Andorra, Estonia, France & Monaco, Georgie, Israel, Latvia, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Turkey & CIS (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan)
Facebook Live via OfficialPDC page - for Caribbean & South America

LISTEN LIVE
Commentary of the remainder of the William Hill World Darts Championship will be broadcast live on talkSPORT and talkSPORT2 - click here for further details.