Gerwyn Price landed a history-making nine-dart finish to set up a mouth-watering clash against Michael van Gerwen in Sunday’s Betfred World Matchplay final, following a sensational night of action at the Winter Gardens on Saturday.
Price landed his fourth nine-darter of 2022 in his 17-11 win over Danny Noppert, before Van Gerwen produced a late surge to deny 2020 champion Dimitri Van den Bergh 17-14.
However, Price stole the show on a scintillating night in Blackpool, achieving perfection in his clash against Noppert, registering the first nine-darter at this event since Gary Anderson’s 2018 exploits.
UK Open champion Noppert landed three ton-plus checkouts to threaten a late fightback, but the new world number one completed a convincing victory to seal his spot in a first World Matchplay final.
Price seized the early initiative by hitting 180s in consecutive legs to lead 3-2, before registering an 11-dart hold and converting a 107 finish to win the next mini-session by the same scoreline.
The 37-year-old then produced a blistering barrage to raise the roof in Blackpool, landing the magical nine-darter in leg 13 to become the first player in PDC history to land four TV nine-darters in a calendar year.
NINE-DARTER FROM GERWYN PRICE!!!!! 🚨🚨🚨🚨 pic.twitter.com/nbnJBy7ZsF— PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC) July 23, 2022
Price threatened to repeat the feat in the following leg, opening up with four perfect darts and crashing in two more maximums en route to an 11-darter, before stretching his advantage to 10-5 moments later.
Noppert responded with a run of three straight legs - including a 104 combination - only for Price to restore his five-leg buffer with legs of 14, 14 and 13 darts.
The Dutchman was beginning to waver and Price continued his charge to move 15-8 ahead, but Noppert preserved his hopes with another three-leg burst, taking out 117 and 120 checkouts to reduce the arrears to 15-11.
Price saw Jose De Sousa fight back from the brink in Friday’s quarter-finals, but he avoided any late drama on this occasion, posting his 13th 180 to move one leg away, before taking out 63 in two darts to cap off a sublime display.
“I felt brilliant for most of that game,” admitted Price, who averaged 102.37 and fired in 13 maximums to become the second Welshman along with Richie Burnett to reach a World Matchplay final.
“I’m so glad the nine-darter went in, but it probably put me under pressure, because I know a lot of people who hit nine-darters go on to lose the game. Thankfully that didn’t happen!
“I was hoping to go back-to-back, but it’s good for the crowd and it’s good for my confidence, especially at the Winter Gardens.
“The crowd are right on top of you, it’s brilliant. It’s a great atmosphere.”
World Number One @Gezzyprice is through to his first Betfred World Matchplay final 🎯.— Betfred (@Betfred) July 23, 2022
A nine darter capped a superb win for The Iceman 🧊 over Danny Noppert.#WorldMatchplay | #WMDarts | @OfficialPDC pic.twitter.com/DhyxwiGcSc
Price will now take on Van Gerwen in Sunday’s showpiece, after the two-time winner won the final four legs without reply to edge out Van den Bergh in a battle of the former champions.
Van den Bergh punished a sloppy start from Van Gerwen to race into a 4-1 lead with the aid of a 116 finish in leg three, although the Dutchman responded in emphatic style.
The two-time winner landed a 10-dart leg to restore parity at four apiece, and while Van den Bergh briefly restored his two-leg lead, he squandered two at double for a 7-4 cushion and Van Gerwen capitalised to level once more.
The pair exchanged seven consecutive holds before the Belgian stole a march in a crucial passage of play, converting back-to-back 100 and 114 finishes to establish a 12-9 advantage.
However, Van den Bergh spurned two darts at double to move further clear in leg 22, and it proved to be an expensive miss, with the Dutchman winning four of the next five legs to draw level at 13-13.
Van den Bergh registered his second 114 outshot of the contest – his fourth ton-plus finish – to retain his slender cushion, but he was unable to stem the tide in the latter stages.
Despite missing double 11 for a 124 combination, Van Gerwen returned to pin the same target in leg 29 to secure the lead for the first time, before moving one leg away with a 14-dart hold.
The pair traded 180s in a dramatic climax, but after Van den Bergh was unable to convert a 104 skin-saver, Van Gerwen closed out a 13-dart break to seal his spot in a fourth Blackpool final.
“It was a really tough game for me, but I stayed calm and I think from here, anything is possible,” said Van Gerwen, who averaged 98.9 to continue his bid for a third Phil Taylor Trophy.
“I feel good. I’m not happy with my performance, but I kept believing in my own abilities and I think this is why I won the game.
“I only had a short period of preparation for this tournament, so being in the final is a bonus for me, but I’m not done yet!
“Me and Gerwyn always have fantastic games, and I think this will be a final that everybody wants to watch.
“It’s a big game for both of us, and I cannot wait for tomorrow. It’s going to be amazing.”
VAN GERWEN IS INTO ANOTHER WORLD MATCHPLAY FINAL!— PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC) July 23, 2022
He leaves it late, but Michael van Gerwen comes from behind to beat Dimitri Van den Bergh 17-14 as he looks to win a third World Matchplay title!#WMDarts | SF pic.twitter.com/a5usFzt114
Sunday's blockbuster clash between Price and Van Gerwen will begin from 21:00 BST, with the inaugural Betfred Women's World Matchplay taking place earlier in the day.
Price is the 4/5 favourite with title sponsor Betfred to lift his maiden World Matchplay crown, with Van Gerwen even money to make it a hat-trick of wins at the Winter Gardens.
The action will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK, through the PDC's worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and Viaplay, and on PDCTV (excluding UK, Germany, Austria & Switzerland based subscribers).
2022 Betfred World Matchplay
Saturday July 23
Gerwyn Price 17-11 Danny Noppert (Gerwyn Price hits a nine-darter)
Michael van Gerwen 17-14 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Sunday July 24
Michael van Gerwen v Gerwyn Price
Best of 35 legs
Each game must be won by two clear legs, with up to a maximum of five additional legs being played before the sixth additional leg is sudden-death. For example, should the final (best of 35 legs) reach 20-20, then the 41st leg would be the final and deciding leg.
4/5 Gerwyn Price
1/1 Michael van Gerwen
Odds courtesy Betfred and correct at time of writing. Subject to fluctuation.