MICHAEL VAN GERWEN moved a step closer to defending his World Darts Championship title after edging a dramatic quarter-final battle with Dutch rival Raymond Van Barneveld at Alexandra Palace on Friday.
After a nervy start from both players, Van Gerwen went on to clinch a deciding set victory in what became an epic contest.
The world number one, who averaged 103, missed a dart to lead the race to five sets 4-1 before ‘Barney’ levelled at 3-3 and then 4-4.
Van Gerwen repeatedly punished missed doubles from his opponent throughout the clash and crucially made van Barneveld pay for three unsuccessful attempts at landing double 16 to take control of the final set, before going on to seal his place in the last four.
“In the beginning I didn’t feel too well, Raymond was playing well and I was struggling a little bit,” said Van Gerwen, who will meet Rob Cross in Saturday’s semi-finals.
“But I think everyone could only dream about a quarter-final like this as we both averaged quite a good standard and we both hit big finishes at the right time.”
Phil Taylor takes on Jamie Lewis in the other semi-final, with the winners meeting in the final on New Year’s Day.