PHIL TAYLOR and Raymond van Barneveld will clash in the semi-finals of the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship on Sunday night following their brilliant quarter-final wins over Andy Hamilton and Simon Whitlock respectively at Alexandra Palace.
Taylor, the 15-time World Champion, powered past 2012 runner-up Hamilton in straight sets in an imperious showing as he surged into the last four.
The world number one produced his best display so far in this year’s tournament as he restricted Hamilton to only two legs, with the damage being done as he took the opening two sets without reply.
He went on to win through to the last four for the first time in three years – since his 2010 win at Alexandra Palace – and ended the game with a ton-plus average for the first time in the 2013 event.
“Andy was missing a lot of doubles early on, and the more I applied pressure the more he kept missing,” said Taylor. “Things are coming together well and I’ve got to keep it going now and improve in the next round.
“I’m really looking forward to the semi-final with Barney now and it’s creating a lot of interest. It’s good for the game and Barney’s been the best player in the tournament so far, and I can’t wait!”
Hamilton conceded: “I think I deserved a couple of sets but Phil was awesome and he’s the master of punishing his opponent. He taught me a big lesson.
“I need to focus on my game and not worry about my opponent – I played Phil tonight and I tried too hard. I’m disappointed with my game and I know I’m better than that, so I’ve got to go and get on the practice board and put it right.”
Five-time World Champion van Barneveld, meanwhile, continued his thrilling form with a superb 5-1 defeat of 2010 finalist Whitlock, who hit 12 maximums and two ton-plus finishes but was unable to match the Dutchman’s clinical brilliance.
Van Barneveld took the first two sets to assume command, finishing 135 in the second, before Whitlock edged the third, but the next two fell to the 2007 champion in a deciding leg before he swept through the sixth set without reply to seal victory.
“Simon has a good record against me, but I don’t he’s ever played the Raymond van Barneveld that showed up tonight,” said the Dutch ace, who ended the match with a 102.32 average.
“I’m looking forward to playing Phil Taylor in the semi-finals. He’s an unbelievable player, but I have no fear of him at the moment.”
Whitlock admitted: “Raymond played fantastic darts and hit the right shots at the right time, which I’ve been doing earlier in the tournament but couldn’t do tonight.
“Even when I was behind I still thought I could win, but Raymond was superb and I take my hat off to him. It was a massive game for both of us and I threw everything at him and wasn’t good enough.
“It was probably my best performance of the tournament and I’m proud of the way I hung in there and never gave up. I put in 100 percent and you can’t do anything more than that.
“With the form Raymond showed, he can go on to win this tournament now. It’s been one of the best World Championships I’ve ever been involved in, and I wish Raymond the best of luck now.”
Van Barneveld’s win saw him move in to become the 5/2 second favourite to take the title with sponsors Ladbrokes, with Taylor still the tournament favourite at 7/4.
Taylor is 8/15 with Ladbrokes to win his semi-final with van Barneveld, who is 6/4 to win through to the final.
The quarter-finals continue on Saturday night, when reigning champion Adrian Lewis faces World Grand Prix champion Michael van Gerwen and world number three James Wade faces number six seed Wes Newton, September’s European Championship finalist.
Ladbrokes World Darts Championship
Friday December 28
Simon Whitlock 1-5 Raymond van Barneveld
Phil Taylor 5-0 Andy Hamilton

thanks to the PDC darts for the post