UK Open - Taylor finishes van Gerwen
PHIL TAYLOR produced a thrilling performance to knock Michael van Gerwen out of the Speedy Services UK Open on Sunday afternoon, as Raymond van Barneveld, Andy Hamilton and Peter Wright enjoyed quarter-final victories in Bolton.
Taylor gained revenge for last month's loss to the Dutch ace in the McCoy's Premier League Darts final with a sensational performance in a high-quality contest with the world number two.
The four-time UK Open champion averaged 106.56 and hit two 11-dart finishes, with van Gerwen initially coming from 3-1 down to level at five-all before Taylor cominated the game's latter stages.
Taylor produced a key 125 checkout to move 9-6 up, and though van Gerwen briefly threatened a comeback he sealed victory to move into the semi-finals, where he now plays Peter Wright.
"It was a great game and it was one of those games where both of us knew we couldn't afford to miss," said Taylor. "Michael's brilliant and every time you make a mistake he jumps on you, and that's always in the back of your head.
"He's a tough cookie but the only way to beat him is to get out there and play, but maybe he's beginning to think a little bit about the game, which shows the pressure of where is is now.
"The 125 finish was important but I still couldn't shake him off after that. Just to be through is brilliant and I'm in the semis now, and looking forward to tonight."
Van Gerwen said: "I'm devastated. I had chances to win but I didn't make it happen. I let myself down, especially at the end of the match when I didn't take advantage of Phil. I needed to step in when Phil loosened up, but I didn't do that and I blame myself for it.
"The 125 gave him a massive boost and it made it very hard for me after that."
Lowestoft's Wright won through to his first major semi-final by continuing his brilliant weekend with a fine 10-6 win over world number three Adrian Lewis.
Wright won seven successive legs as he took an 8-1 lead against the double World Champion, and he also moved 9-2 up, with Lewis taking four legs in a row to threaten a comeback before the Scottish World Cup representative sealed an impressive win.
"I'm really happy to be in the semi-finals," said Wright. "It was a good win but I slipped up a bit after the first legs and lost my concentration a bit.
"Maybe I was thinking about possibly beating a double World Champion 10-2, and I had to get my focus back and not panic, so it's good to get the job done."
He added: "I lost to Michael van Gerwen in the World Championship last year and it taught me a lot. I knew I had to change things because I want to be winning things and getting up into the top four, instead of being happy with being 20-odd in the world. I want to be up there with the rest of the guys and I've put a lot of work in to get here. To win this now would be great, but I'll take one leg at a time tonight!"
Van Barneveld, the 2006 and 2007 UK Open champion, showed his class with a battling performance as he defeated Ronnie Baxter 10-9 in an epic quarter-final.
Baxter came from 3-0 down to win five successive legs as he took the lead, and finished 121 as he moved 7-4 up, but van Barneveld - aided by a trio of 180s - clawed his way back into the game to lead 9-8.
Baxter - who hit eight 180s - forced a deciding leg, but missed one dart for the match to allow van Barneveld to edge into the semis.
"I'm delighted to win such a great game," said van Barneveld. "Ronnie was awesome, he played some fantastic darts and it was probably one of the best performances of his career.
"Things were going well early on when I was 3-0 up, but I kept missing doubles and found myself 5-3 down. But Ronnie let me back in and I managed to take my chance - and I never gave up."
Van Barneveld now faces Andy Hamilton in the semis, after the Stoke ace enjoyed a superb 10-8 win over two-time UK Open champion James Wade.
Hamilton trailed 3-1 early in the game, but hit four ton-plus checkouts and a key 84 bullseye finish as he moved into his first UK Open semi-final.
"It was a superb game and it came down to who hit their finishes in the end," said Hamilton. "We were pretty even with scoring but the ton-plus finishes benefitted me - although it was an 84 finish, on the bull, to go 9-8 up which won me the match.
"I'll stay relaxed and do everything right to get myself ready for the semi-finals, and I'm ready for anything!"Sunday evening's semi-finals will be followed by the final of the £200,000 event, with a £40,000 first prize on offer to the champion.
Speedy Services UK Open
Raymond van Barneveld 10-9 Ronnie Baxter
Andy Hamilton 10-8 James Wade
Phil Taylor 10-7 Michael van Gerwen
Peter Wright 10-6 Adrian Lewis
Raymond van Barneveld v Andy Hamilton
Phil Taylor v Peter Wright
Best of 19 legs
van Barneveld/Hamilton v Taylor/Wright
Best of 21 legs