World Darts Championship Semi-Final Round-Up
Please find below a round-up of the semi-finals of the PDC World Championship courtesy of Dave Allen and Lawrence Lustig/PDC.
SIMON WHITLOCK will attempt to take Phil Taylor's World Darts Championship crown on Sunday night when the pair clash in the final at London's Alexandra Palace.
Whitlock won through to the decider in the £1 million event with a brilliant 6-5 win over Raymond van Barneveld, the Australian coming from 4-2 down to take victory.
He will now challenge for the £200,000 first prize in Sunday's final, having followed up wins over Colin Osborne, Wayne Jones, Terry Jenkins and James Wade by seeing off the world number two.
"Everybody dreams of being World Champion and I'm close to achieving that dream," said Whitlock, who lost in the 2008 Lakeside Championship final to Mark Webster.
"Raymond's one of the best players I've ever seen, a five-time World Champion and a lovely man, and it's amazing to defeat him in a World Championship semi-final.
"I never gave up though and sensed Raymond was getting tired. I struggled throughout the match and it was probably my poorest performance of the tournament so far, but I felt if I could hang in there and keep pushing to the end I'd get a chance, and I did."
Whitlock will take on Taylor in the decider, after the reigning champion remained on course for a 15th World Championship title with a 6-0 rout of Welsh left-hander Webster.
Webster had battled through to the semis on his debut in the PDC's World Championship, but saw his bid to join the list of double World Champions ended emphatically as Taylor averaged 106.
Taylor won the first set without reply and only dropped four legs in taking the next three to lead 4-0, before taking out finishes of 139 and 116 in winning six successive legs to wrap up the win.
"It's going to be a great final," said Taylor. "I think Simon and myself have been the best players in the two halves of the draw, certainly with our averages.
"He's a good player, great under pressure and his finishing has been fantastic. He's done brilliantly, played each round as it goes and beaten the players in front of him.
"I've got to keep putting him under pressure and hitting my scores at the right time. I did that against Mark and it paid off because he was under pressure from the start."
The winner of Sunday's final will take home a record £200,000, the highest prize ever paid in the history of darts, with the runner-up earning £100,000.
Van Barneveld and Webster will meet in a best-of-19 leg play-off for third and fourth place, with prize money of £60,000 and £40,000 on offer respectively.
World Darts Championship
Simon Whitlock 6-5 Raymond van Barneveld
Phil Taylor 6-0 Mark Webster
Sunday - 7pm
Third-Fourth Place Play-Off
Mark Webster v Raymond van Barneveld
Best of 19 legs
Phil Taylor v Simon Whitlock
Best of 13 sets, best of five legs per set
SIMON WHITLOCK 6-5 RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD
(3-2, 1-3, 3-2, 0-3, 1-3, 2-3, 3-2, 3-1, 3-0, 2-3, 3-1)
SIMON WHITLOCK came through a final-set thriller to defeat Raymond van Barneveld 6-5 in the semi-finals of the 2010 World Darts Championship.
The Australian had fallen 4-2 behind to van Barneveld but the former Lakeside Championship finalist produced some incredible darts to take three sets on the spin and lead 5-4.
Van Barneveld levelled at 5-5 to take the match into a deciding set, but Whitlock held his nerve to defy the Dutchman a third World Championship final appearance in four years and continue his dream debut run at Alexandra Palace.
"I couldn't believe it when that double ten went in to win the match," admitted Whitlock. "It would be a dream come true to be World Champion - and I am really close now.
"I never gave up when I fell behind. I sensed Raymond was beginning to tire and I told myself that if I could just hang in there and keep plugging away I would get a chance, and I did."
Van Barneveld won the first leg of the match against the darts by hitting double 14 after Whitlock missed four opportunities at double 15.
The Australian soon broke back in fantastic with an 11-dart finish and followed that with a 121 checkout, completed on the bullseye.
Van Barneveld won the fourth leg to hold throw but Whitlock did the same in the deciding leg, hitting a 15-dart finish after converting a 76 checkout.
The five-time World Champion won the first leg of the second set with an 81 finish which was followed by recording his first maximum of the game in the next. Van Barneveld left himself with just 48 after nine darts but he wasted two darts at double 16 which allowed Whitlock to step in with a 65 checkout and level.
Van Barneveld put that disappointment behind him by winning the third leg to lead the set for the second time and won the fourth with an impressive 100 checkout to square the game, with his opponent ready to pounce on double 18.
The Dutchman established a two-leg lead at the beginning of the third set, which included a 12-darter to win the second before Whitlock took the third with an excellent 112 checkout.
The fourth also went in favour of the Aussie, who hit double ten with his last dart after van Barneveld was guilty of two more missed chances at double 16 for the set.
Van Barneveld was made to rue those missed attempts in the deciding leg as Whitlock put together a superb 11-darter to lead the match for a second time.
But the Dutchman produced some of his best darts of the tournament so far to win six of the next seven legs to hit the front.
He broke throw with a 14-dart finish to make a winning start to the fourth set, and took the second with the aid of a maximum before sealing the set on double top.
Van Barneveld took out a fantastic 11-darter to open the fifth set, and Whitlock managed to stem the tide briefly by recording a 160 checkout in the second leg before hit opponent hit a two-dart 100 finish to win the third leg and took out a 13-darter to win the set.
Van Barneveld made a winning start to set six by hitting double 18, defying a 180 from Whitlock. The Dutchman was close to converting a maximum 170 checkout in the second leg, but his attempt at bullseye was narrowly off-target and the former Lakeside Champion took out an 80 finish to level matters.
Whitlock, who defeated James Wade in a thrilling quarter-final on Friday, moved 2-1 up courtesy of a two-dart 65 finish but lost the fourth leg after missing a dart at double 16 to win the set.
The Australian missed another opportunity at double 16 in the deciding leg and that proved costly as van Barneveld hit double ten at the first time of asking to extend his lead to 4-2.
Whitlock opened up the seventh set with a clinical 116 finish but the Dutchman replied to win the second, which included two maximums from the 2007 World Champion.
Van Barneveld, who had dropped just one set before this encounter, moved ahead by winning the third leg against the darts after Whitlock was off-target with four attempts at double six.
Both players hit 180s in the fourth leg but it was Whitlock who broke back by hitting double ten for a 14-dart finish, and he then won the deciding leg by landing double ten once again to convert an 80 finish.
The first two legs of the eighth set where held with throw before Whitlock made a decisive move and won the third leg with a break of throw after his opponent missed a dart at double top for a 102 checkout.
In the fourth leg, Whitlock missed a dart at double nine to win the set, but punished van Barneveld's inability to set up a finish and allowed the Aussie to return and hit double four to square the match at four sets apiece.
Whitlock then stormed through the ninth set to regain the lead for the first time since the third set, following up a 14-darter with finishes of 141 and 124 to move back ahead.
Maximums were recorded by both players at the start of the tenth set but once again it was Whitlock won the leg, after van Barneveld's attempt at double top fell below the target.
The Dutchman won his first leg in eight by hitting double two to level, and a two-dart 74 finish in the next gave van Barneveld a 2-1 lead.
Whitlock hit his 12th maximum of the match in the process of recording a 15-dart finish to win the fourth leg, but van Barneveld won the decider by hitting double ten to force an 11th set.
Whitlock held throw to open up an early lead in the final set before van Barneveld kicked off the second leg with scores of 174 and 180.
That put the Dutchman on a potential nine-dart finish, but any hopes of recording that feat for a second time in this tournament were dashed by missing the seventh dart, although the leg was won in 14 darts to level.
The third leg saw Whitlock miss a dart at double 16 for a 2-1 lead, but van Barneveld missed two attempts at double eight to allow the Australian to return and hit double 16 at the first time of asking.
That put Whitlock one leg away from a place in the final, and van Barneveld suffered more problems on the doubles to allow Whitlock to pounce on double ten to confirm his place in Sunday's final.
"It feels strange because I feel as though I produced my best performance of the week," said van Barneveld. "I didn't anywhere near my best in my previous games and only dropped one set.
"I wish Simon all the best in the final. I am pleased for him - he has taken his opportunity superbly."
PHIL TAYLOR 6-0 MARK WEBSTER
(3-0, 3-1, 3-1, 3-2, 3-0, 3-0)
PHIL TAYLOR cruised into the final of the 2010 World Darts Championship with a comfortable straight sets triumph over Mark Webster.
Taylor was in complete control against the 26-year-old and ended the match with a three-dart average of 106 to set up a clash against Simon Whitlock for the £200,000 first prize and remain on course for a 15th World Championship title.
Webster, who defeated former finalists Peter Manley and Kirk Shepherd to reach the semi-finals, never got into the match and will now face-off against Raymond van Barneveld in the third-fourth place play-off on Sunday evening.
Taylor made a confident start to match to immediately apply the pressure to Webster, hitting a maximum in a 13-darter to open the match against the throw.
The Stoke star hit another 180 in the process of winning the second leg and repeated the trick in the third, which was won by hitting double eight to seal the set with ease.
Taylor kicked off the second set with a 13-dart finish before Webster managed to win his first leg of the match by landing double two.
Taylor defied a maximum from his opponent to win the third leg and won the set in the next leg, which he in completed in 14-darts to establish a 2-0 lead.
That dominance continued in the third set as the world number one broke throw in the first leg and then doubled his lead with a 15-dart finish.
Webster managed to win the third leg but Taylor won the next by hitting double top for the set after Webster missed a dart at double 18.
Taylor won the opening leg of the fourth by hitting double 12 but missed the same bed on two occasions and Webster capitalised by landing double top to level.
The next two legs were held with throw before Taylor turned up the heat in the deciding leg with another 13-darter to move 4-0 ahead.
Double seven gave Taylor the opening leg of the fifth set before a 15-dart finish put the 14-time World Champion into a 2-0 lead.
He hit a fabulous 139 checkout to seal the set and then recorded a 116 finish to make a winning start to set six.
A 71 finish against the darts gave the defending champion the second leg and Webster was put out of his misery in the next as Taylor was successful with his attempt at 16 closed the contest to end the contest.
"I kept concentrating throughout and continually put Mark under pressure," said Taylor. "Mark is a lovely lad but this is the semi-finals of the World Championship and I had to do a job out there.
"I think the final against Simon is going to be a cracker. He's a good player and shows great composure under pressure."
Webster admitted: "That was a learning experience for me tonight and hopefully I can come back and perform better.
"I won't beat myself up about what happened tonight. I've got a lot a of positives to take away from this tournament and I can look forward to the match against Raymond tomorrow night."