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Simon Gott 29th Dec 2012 - 8:49

World Darts Championship Friday Round-Up

PHIL TAYLOR and Raymond van Barneveld will clash in the semi-finals of the 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 Taylor still the tournament favourite at 7/4.

Taylor is 8/15 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.

World Darts Championship
Quarter-Finals
Friday December 28

Simon Whitlock 1-5 Raymond van Barneveld
Phil Taylor 5-0 Andy Hamilton

Saturday December 29
Wes Newton v James Wade
Adrian Lewis v Michael van Gerwen
Best of nine sets

Match Reports
Simon Whitlock 1-5 Raymond van Barneveld
(1-3, 0-3, 3-2, 2-3, 2-3, 0-3)
RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD produced a sensational display to knock former finalist Simon Whitlock out of the World Darts Championship with a superb 5-1 quarter-final victory on Friday night.

The five-time World Champion took command of the match by winning six of the first seven legs to establish a two-set lead.

Whitlock won the third set in a deciding leg, but that only stemmed van Barneveld's momentum briefly as he edged the next two sets before sweeping through the sixth to secure his first World Championship semi-final since 2010, when he had lost to the Australian.

"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.

"Over the last few years I have missed a number of key doubles in big matches, so to hit the double four to win a tight fifth set was so big for me."

Van Barneveld will face long-term rival Phil Taylor in the semis, having defeated the Stoke great in their famous 2007 final only to lose out two years later to a stunning display from the world number one.

"I'm looking forward to playing Phil Taylor in the semi-finals," added van Barneveld. "He's an unbelievable player, but I have no fear of him at the moment."

Van Barneveld, who breezed past Gary Anderson in the third round 24 hours earlier, started brightly with a 13-dart finish and fired a 180 in the second leg, only for Whitlock to level with a fine 116 finish.

Van Barneveld hit a third maximum in as many legs before regaining the lead on double ten, and an accurate third dart at double 18 in the fourth leg gave him the first set.

The five-time World Champion continued his brilliant opening at the start of the second set as he recorded finishes of 86 and 135 to take the opening two legs before posting double ten in the next to seal the set without reply and leave Whitlock trailing.

Whitlock hit two 180s in the first leg of set three, which he took in 11 darts with a 100 checkout, before a missed dart at double 19 from Australian allowed van Barneveld back in to take out 76 on double 18.

Whitlock, who edged out Dave Chisnall in a dramatic last 16 encounter on Thursday, regained the lead with a 13-dart finish to win leg three before van Barneveld hit the second 11-darter of the set to level in the fourth.

Whitlock was off-target with six chances to win the set in the deciding leg, but van Barneveld was in no position to capitalise and the number five seed returned to hit double four.

Whitlock hit two more maximums at the beginning of the fourth set, and won the opening leg on double four to break van Barneveld's throw for the first time.

Van Barneveld cancelled out that advantage immediately as he hit a 112 checkout, to take the second, before landing double 16 in the third to move ahead.

Whitlock hit double top at the first attempt to win the fourth leg, after van Barneveld was off-target with one dart at the same double to win the set, but the Dutchman made no mistake in the decider by finishing 86 on the bullseye to restore his two-set advantage in a key moment.

The Australian held throw at the start of the fifth set and posted his tenth 180 of the game in the second leg, only for van Barneveld to post a clinical two-dart 86 finish to complete an 11-dart finish.

Whitlock won the third leg thanks to accurate third dart at double ten, but the Dutchman held throw to win the fourth, with a 70 finish, before landing a timely 180 in the decider and taking out double four to establish a three-set cushion.

The Dutchman won the first leg of set six with a 74 finish, before taking a high scoring second leg with a his third 11-darter of the match to move a leg away from a victory which he sealed in style with a 13-dart finish.

Whitlock, who hit 12 maximums in the contest and averaged over 97, 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."

Phil Taylor 5-0 Andy Hamilton
(3-0, 3-0, 3-1, 3-0, 3-1)
PHIL TAYLOR powered into his first World Darts Championship semi-final for three years with a convincing 5-0 triumph over Stoke rival Andy Hamilton at Alexandra Palace on Friday night.

The world number one's bid for a 16th World Championship title continued apace as he set up a semi-final with Raymond van Barneveld by seeing off last year's runner-up in under 45 minutes.

Taylor took the game's opening six legs as he punished missed doubles from Hamilton to take a two-set lead, and he dropped only two more legs in the game to move into the last four.

"Andy was missing a lot of doubles early on, and the more I applied pressure the more he kept missing," said Taylor, who ended with a 101.36 average, his best so far in this year's event.

"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!"

Taylor started the match in fine style as he broke throw at the first time of asking, on double 16, before landing tops to take the second leg, after Hamilton had missed two darts at doubles.

Hamilton was guilty of missing two further darts at double 16 in the next, and Taylor hit double top once again to take the first set comfortably.

Hamilton fired in a 180 at the start of the second set, but two more missed darts at doubles proved expensive as Taylor took out 118 to win his fourth leg in a row.

Taylor hit scores of 180 and 177 in the process of taking the second in 13 darts, before claiming the third leg on double four to move two sets up and leave Hamilton without a leg to his name.

Both players recorded 180s at the start of the third set before Hamilton landed double top win the opener and get a leg on the board.

Taylor levelled in the second with a 78 finish, before breaking throw with a 14-dart leg in the third after Hamilton was just off-target on double 13 for a 146 checkout.

Taylor then hit his second 177 of the contest in leg four to set up double 14 for a 13-darter to move three sets clear and close in on a semi-final spot.

The world number one opened up the fourth set by hitting double 16 before repeating the finish to break throw in the next with a sublime 11-darter, and the procession continued as he added a maximum and double two in take the third leg to win a fourth set.

Hamilton won just his second leg of the match, with a 95 finish, to start the fifth set in positive fashion, before Taylor took out 91 in the second to level.

Hamilton hit a 171 to forge ahead in the third leg, but Taylor replied with a 134 and punished a miss at double 16 from his opponent by posting double eight to move 2-1 up and a leg away from the win, which he sealed in the fourth leg on double ten.

"I think I deserved a couple of sets but Phil was awesome and he's the master of punishing his opponent," admitted Hamilton. "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.

"I'm pleased to put together another good run in the World Championship. It's been a great year for me and I'm full of confidence going into 2013."


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