Dimitri Van den Bergh is determined to ‘make his dream a reality’ ahead of his semi-final clash against Michael van Gerwen at the Cazoo World Darts Championship on Monday.
Van den Bergh and Van Gerwen will collide for a place in Tuesday’s final at Alexandra Palace, in a repeat of their showdown at the same stage of July’s World Matchplay.
Van den Bergh overcame six-time TV title winner Jonny Clayton in the quarter-finals on New Year’s Day, to become the first Belgian player to reach the semi-finals of the World Darts Championship.
The Antwerp ace is now just two wins away from claiming the sport’s biggest prize on January 3, and he admits he is already daring to dream.
“I really want to be a World Champion, and I am one step closer to making my dreams come true,” said an emotional Van den Bergh following his win over Clayton.
“I know I haven’t showed my best yet, but I do feel like I’m stepping up.
“My scoring is getting better and now my finishing touch in the important moments has got to be on point, especially in the next round.
“It is about my game, my focus, my belief and hopefully I can make this dream a reality.”
Van den Bergh came out on top in a rollercoaster last eight clash against Clayton, reeling off three consecutive sets from 3-2 adrift to triumph with a 95 average and 13 maximums.
The 28-year-old was featuring in his third World Championship quarter-final, but it was a case of third time lucky for the enigmatic Belgian, who has broken new ground in the capital.
“It’s special to finally pull through. They always say the third time is the right time and it happened. I am so happy,” said Van den Bergh, a former World Matchplay champion.
“It was a real battle. I was feeling comfortable and confident at certain points, and then I seemed to produce a chance.
“It’s just an amazing feeling to be on that stage. It’s so special and I love it every time, but I know I can still go up a few levels.”
Van den Bergh enjoyed a terrific start to 2022, winning a brace of World Series of Darts titles in Copenhagen and Amsterdam, while also reaching July’s World Matchplay semi-finals.
The Belgian had struggled to hit those heights over recent months, but he’s enjoyed a welcome return to form at Ally Pally.
Van den Bergh has recorded wins over Lourence Ilagan, Krzysztof Ratajski, Kim Huybrechts and Clayton to reach the last four, and he insists he has no fear ahead of his tie against Van Gerwen.
“I’m not afraid of anybody. If Dimitri rocks up the way he can, everybody has to fear me,” added the Belgian World Cup star.
“I am working hard, I am practising hard and everybody around me is supporting me so much.
“I’m two games away now from making my dream come true, and I really hope that it keeps going my way.
“I am always dreaming. That’s why I am called The Dream Maker, and I really hope that I can do the business again.”
However, Van Gerwen has been imperious in his march to an eighth World Championship semi-final, boasting a tournament average of 103.63 and relinquishing just three sets in the process.
The Dutchman is eyeing a fourth Cazoo World Darts Championship crown – his first since 2019 – and he believes it would take something spectacular to curtail his title tilt over the coming days.
“I feel comfortable, but I also feel there is more to come,” revealed Van Gerwen – the only former champion left standing at this year’s World Championship.
“You need to believe in your own ability, and the way I’ve been playing in the last few weeks, months and the last year probably - I am playing some good darts.
“I believe in my own strength and from there I can do anything.
“I am looking forward to playing Dimi. It is going to be a tough game. I think he’s only beaten me once before, but that doesn’t give you any guarantees, so I need to make sure I’m sharp.”
Meanwhile, Monday’s opening semi-final will see two-time runner-up Michael Smith take on German trailblazer Gabriel Clemens, who continued his history-making run with a 5-1 rout of Gerwyn Price in Sunday’s quarter-finals.
Clemens – the first German to advance beyond the last 16 in the sport’s showpiece event – is eyeing another upset against fourth seed Smith, who is aiming to reach his third World Championship final in five years.
2022/23 Cazoo World Darts Championship
Monday January 2 (1930 GMT)
Gabriel Clemens v Michael Smith
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Michael van Gerwen
Best of 11 sets
Tuesday January 3 (2000 GMT)
Clemens/Smith v Van den Bergh/Van Gerwen
Best of 13 sets