TAYLOR TO FACE TOP AUSSIE WHITLOCK IN SYDNEY DARTS MASTERS SEMI-FINALS
PHIL TAYLOR and Simon Whitlock will clash in the Sydney Darts Masters semi-finals following brilliant victories at Luna Park on Friday night, and they were joined in the last four by Michael van Gerwen and Adrian Lewis.
Australian superstar Whitlock roared into the last four on home soil in Sydney with a thrilling 8-1 victory over Andy Hamilton in their last eight clash.
Whitlock opened the game with a 180, bringing the capacity Luna Park crowd to its feet, and was relentless as he powered into the semis, with Hamilton’s only leg coming as he hit a 180 and finished 84 on the bull for a 12-darter.
With Paul Nicholson and Clinton Bridge losing out in the last eight on Friday night, Whitlock will now carry the hopes of the host nation on his shoulders going into Saturday’s decisive semi-finals and final – which will kick off with his clash against Taylor.
“It’s fantastic to be in the semi-finals and I can’t wait for Saturday night,” said Whitlock. “It would be awesome to beat Phil Taylor here in Australia and I’ll be confident going into the game.
“I played pretty well again, I’m scoring well and my finishing’s been good, and I played some great darts at times. I hit Andy hard early on and that was the big thing tonight.”
World Champion Taylor, meanwhile, produced the highest average of the tournament so far in a clinical 8-2 win over Paul Nicholson, who took the first leg but would only win one more in the next nine.
Taylor took three in a row to move into the ascendancy, and though Nicholson hit back to 3-2, the Stoke legend found another gear to win the next five without reply in sealing his semi-final place with a 108.31 average.
“My finishing was the secret in this game,” said Taylor, who took out 50 percent of his chances at a double. “In a short format it’s important to take out your doubles, and I did that well tonight.
“After Paul got back to 3-2 I kicked on and I needed to because you could see him closing in. He’s on his way back and the next few months can be big for him.”
Taylor and Whitlock were joined in the semi-finals by the other two members of the world’s current top four, van Gerwen and Lewis.
Van Gerwen followed up Thursday’s ten-minute whitewash of Gordon Mathers by knocking out Australian left-hander Bridge 8-1.
Bridge caused a major upset on his televised debut 24 hours earlier with a thrilling 6-5 win over Raymond van Barneveld, but was unable to complete a Dutch double as van Gerwen proved too strong.
The world number two opened the match with a 14-darter and took the first five legs without reply before Bridge – despite a 180 from his opponent – landed a 13-dart finish to get off the mark in leg six.
Van Gerwen, though, regained his advantage and then finished 154 on double 17 to move 7-1 up, before hitting a 180 and double 16 to complete a comprehensive victory.
“I’m very happy to have won,” said van Gerwen. “Clinton showed some great darts at times and he beat a five-time World Champion yesterday, so I knew he would be good and it shows that the future in Australia is bright.
“I want to play well and go on to win this tournament now, and I know I can improve on this performance, but winning was the most important thing tonight.
“It will be a great semi-final against Adrian because it’s two fast players and it will be good to watch.”
Lewis won through to the semis with an 8-5 triumph against Wes Newton, who shared the game’s first eight legs before the European Champion pulled clear.
Lewis took out finishes of 138 and 78 early on as he edged 3-2 up, and also landed a key 11-darter to lead 4-3 before Newton hit back to level.
Lewis took the ninth and then traded 180s with Newton as he moved 6-4 up, putting daylight between the pair for the first time.
Newton finished 104 to pull back to 6-5, but Lewis hit a second 11-dart leg of the game to move to the brink of victory, which he sealed on double eight.
“Wes got off to a good start, but when push came to shove I produced two 11-dart legs against the throw and that was massive in winning me the match,” said Lewis, who also hit seven 180s.
“It was a tough game and I thought I’d let him in at one point, so it’s a relief to be through and I’m very happy with how I’m playing. I knocked in a 103 average last night and nearly 100 again tonight.”
The Sydney Darts Masters, in association with tab.com.au, will conclude with both the semi-finals and final on Saturday evening at the Big Top in Luna Park, Sydney.
Coverage is live on FOX SPORTS in Australia from 8pm local time (11am BST), and is also live worldwide through Sky New Zealand, Fox Asia, OSN across the Middle East, on the Eurosport network and online through www.LIVEPDC.TV.
Sydney Darts Masters
Friday August 30
Adrian Lewis 8-5 Wes Newton
Michael van Gerwen 8-1 Clinton Bridge
Phil Taylor 8-2 Paul Nicholson
Simon Whitlock 8-1 Andy Hamilton
Saturday August 31 (8pm)
Phil Taylor v Simon Whitlock
Michael van Gerwen v Adrian Lewis
Taylor/Whitlock v van Gerwen/Lewis
The Semi-Finals & Final are the best of 19 legs
thanks to :