Michael van Gerwen moved into the semi-finals of the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship after defeating defending champion Adrian Lewis in an absolute classic at London’s Alexandra Palace.
The 2012 World Grand Prix champion triumphed in a deciding set tie-break, winning a sensational match, in which both players averaged over 100.
It looked like ‘Mighty Mike’ was to be denied a place in the last four when Lewis broke his throw to leave himself throwing for the match.
But the world number two was punished for missing two match darts, when van Gerwen crucially took out 83 to break back before going on to close out the final set 4-2.
“It feels great to beat the World Champion,” said van Gerwen, who hit 15 180s and four finishes of over 100 en route to victory.
“This is a fantastic moment for me, a great game and a fantastic advert for darts.
“It was not easy and I know I can do even better than that because I missed a lot of doubles.
“I was lucky as well because Adrian had darts to win. He played brilliantly as well and showed why he is two-time World Champion.
“A couple of important finishes saved my game tonight. I was pleased because I showed that I can produce the goods at crucial times.
“It was a brilliant atmosphere and it means everything to have won a game like that.
“The main thing though, is that I’m still in the tournament and that makes me happy.”
van Gerwen started strongly as he won all three legs in the opening set, taking out shots of 48 and 100 along the way.
The Dutchman hit his first two 180s in the second set but couldn’t prevent Lewis levelling up the match, after van Gerwen missed nine darts at doubles.
‘Mighty Mike’ suffered more double trouble in the third set but took it 3-2, as he upped his maximum count to six.
But his seventh 180 was in vain as Lewis stormed back to claim the fourth set three nil, levelling the match with the help of a 136 checkout.
van Gerwen fired back at the World Champion, hitting two more maximums and finishes of 42, 76 and 32 to regain his lead.
Lewis fought back again, however, taking out 138 to edge ahead in the sixth set, which he won 3-1.
van Gerwen’s 14th 180 helped to put him in front in the seventh set but ‘Jackpot’ squared it up before grabbing what appeared to be a pivotal break of throw.
‘Mighty Mike’ took out a brilliant 120 finish with his opponent waiting on double ten for the set, with the Dutch sensation pinning tops to regain the lead in the match.
Lewis forced a deciding set as an eleven darter sealed the eighth set 3-1.
van Gerwen took out 104 to edge ahead in the final set but Lewis took the next two to move within a leg of victory.
The world number two missed two darts at double top for the match and ‘Mighty Mike’ punished him with a fantastic 83 checkout, setting up a tie-break situation, where either player would have to win by two clear legs.
van Gerwen took out an awesome 108 finish to edge ahead, before sealing an incredible victory on double four.
He will face James Wade on Sunday for a place in the final.
van Gerwen added: “Tomorrow is another tough game. James is a great player and a top finisher so I need to be ready for that.”
By Chris Murphy
Image courtesy of Lawrence Lustig/PDC