PDC World Championship - Wright & Ruthless van Gerwen Set Up Final
PETER WRIGHT and Michael van Gerwen will contest the World Darts Championship final on Wednesday, after they enjoyed brilliant semi-final victories over Simon Whitlock and Adrian Lewis at Alexandra Palace.
Wright's incredible run in the £1 million tournament continued as he swept aside 2010 finalist Whitlock 6-2 with a brilliant performance in Monday's semi-finals.
The number 16 seed won through to his first televised final in clinical fashion as he took out 60 percent of his chances at a double against the Australian.
He took the game's first set 3-1 before claiming the second in a deciding leg with a 61 finish, after Whitlock had hit back from 2-0 down to level.
The Scot then took the third set 3-1 to move further ahead before Whitlock landed a 130 in the process of winning set four to hit back.
Wright, though, took out 110 as he won set five 3-1 before landing back-to-back 13-darters in the sixth, which he took without reply to move 5-1 up in the game.
Whitlock fought back from a leg down to edge the seventh set in a deciding leg, but missed darts at doubles in the opening two legs of the next as Wright closed in on victory before taking the set, and the match, on double eight.
"I'm over the moon but it's not sunk in properly yet," said Wright, who ended the game with a 100.24 average. "I went up there and played a game of darts; I pretended it was a new tournament and the first round.
"I held myself together well throughout. My finishing was excellent - particularly on double 16 - and I didn't give Simon a sniff.
"I needed to keep Simon under pressure because I know what he can do. He can come back like a train, but I'm getting used to it on the stage and I played my own game.
"I'll be treating the final the same, as if it's a first round game. I'll try and block out the occasion and take each leg at a time."
Van Gerwen, meanwhile, produced his best display of the tournament as he ended Lewis' hopes of winning a third World Championship title with a six-set whitewash in a contest which lasted just 40 minutes.
Lewis opened the game with a 180, but missed three doubles to win the opening leg in a start which set the tone for the match, as van Gerwen capitalised to take the set 3-1.
Lewis led in the second and took out 158 as he forced a deciding leg, in which the pair traded 180s before van Gerwen finished 85 to double his lead.
Van Gerwen then won the third set 3-1 before taking out finishes of 121 and 154 in claiming the fourth without reply in moving towards the winning line.
Lewis took out 112 to lead in set five, but was punished for further missed doubles as van Gerwen won the next three legs to take a 5-0 cushion, and though the Stoke ace fought back from two legs down in the sixth set, the Dutchman was first to a finish in the decider as double 11 sealed his place in the final.
The win takes van Gerwen back into the World Championship final, having lost 7-4 to Phil Taylor 12 months ago only to give himself the prospect of overhauling the reigning champion as world number one if he takes home the £250,000 first prize on Wednesday.
"It's an amazing night," said van Gerwen. "For me the score was not 6-0 but I did everything at the right moments and I knew that was important.
"Adrian missed a lot of doubles at the beginning of the game and I took advantage of that. You're not allowed to miss doubles at this stage of the tournament and I kept it going tonight, I didn't fall asleep like in the quarter-finals against Mark Webster.
"Peter's a great player who has improved himself in the last year, and also in this tournament with some great averages, but I'm playing better game by game. My game's good, my confidence is there and I've got everything in me to be World Champion.
"This is another dream to be in the final - but this time I hope I can win!"
Lewis conceded: "I take my hat off to Michael because he finished really well and I didn't take my chances.
"The scoring part of the game was pretty equal but it was just my doubles that let me down. The first leg set the tone really, and it was just a bad day at the office.
"I'll take it on the chin and move on. I'll have a week off and then get back on the practice board and knuckle down, because on another night it could have gone a different way."
Despite his defeat, Whitlock will move above Lewis to third in the PDC Order of Merit - but he was left devastated following his second semi-final exit in three years.
"I tried my hardest and I just wasn't good enough," said Whitlock. "Peter was the better player on the day; he took out finishes, his scoring was pretty good and he was the best player today.
"Peter hit the big shots at the right time better than I did tonight. It's gut-wrenching because I wanted to be in the final again.
"Peter's been one of the form players this year and I've got a lot of respect for the man. The guy's class and fair play to him.
"I've had a pretty good year again this year and I'm close to being satisfied. I feel as though I had a great chance this year and I just blew it."
Wednesday's final, which will begin at 8pm GMT, will see van Gerwen and Wright playing off for the biggest ever individual prize in darts' history, with a £250,000 winner's cheque on offer alongside the Sid Waddell Trophy.
Van Gerwen is the 2/9 favourite with to claim the title, with Wright now 10/3 to become World Champion on New Year's Day.
World Darts Championship
Monday December 30
Peter Wright 6-2 Simon Whitlock
Michael van Gerwen 6-0 Adrian Lewis
Wednesday January 1 (8pm)
Peter Wright v Michael van Gerwen
Best of 13 sets
PETER WRIGHT 6-2 SIMON WHITLOCK
(3-1, 3-2, 3-1, 1-3, 3-1, 3-0, 2-3, 3-1)
PETER WRIGHT proved too good for Simon Whitlock as he reached his first World Darts Championship final with a 6-2 semi-final win over the number four seed.
The world number 16 produced a fantastic start to win the first three sets and put Whitlock under pressure, and after the two players traded the next four sets, Wright crossed the winning line in the eighth to end the Australian's hopes of a first world title.
"I'm pretty emotional right now as I've just realised what I've achieved," said the delighted Scot, who ended with a 100.24 average, to reach his first televised final.
"I held myself together well throughout. My finishing was excellent - particularly on double 16 - and I didn't give Simon a sniff at any stage.
"I knew that I've been playing really well throughout the last 12 months, and I've managed to keep that form going into the biggest tournament in the game."
Wright started his first World Championship semi-final brilliantly as he opened with scores of 180 and 139 in the process of taking the opening leg in 13 darts, before a 69 finish gave the number 16 seed the second.
Whitlock won the third leg with a 13-darter, before Wright hit double ten in the next to win the set and leave Whitlock trailing for the first time in the tournament.
Wright took that momentum into the second set as he won the opening two legs, only for Whitlock to convert finishes of 87 and 84 to force a deciding leg.
Wright held the advantage of throw in the fifth leg, and he made that count as he took out a 61 finish on double top to move two sets up.
The Scot then won the third set 3-1 to leave Whitlock in big trouble, before the Australian won the fourth by the same scoreline in a run which featured a 130 checkout on the bullseye.
Whitlock's revival was only brief, as Wright won the fifth set - with the aid of 62 and 110 finishes to move 4-1 up in the game before he breezed through the sixth set, hitting back-to-back 13-darters, and also took the opener of set seven with an 84 finish.
Whitlock fought back to win the next two legs and lead 2-1, before Wright won the fourth with a 14-darter, to move a leg away from victory.
The 2010 runner-up held his nerve in the decider as he hit double top with a pressure third dart to take the set, with his opponent waiting on a two-darter to win the match.
The start of the eighth saw Wright take the opening two legs by pouncing on missed doubles from Whitlock, which included six stray darts in the second leg.
Whitlock hit double two in the third leg to keep the contest alive, before Wright crossed the finish line in the next on double eight.
1-0 - Wright shows no signs of big-game nerves as he starts with scores of 180 and 139 on the way to an excellent 13-dart finish against the throw.
2-0 - The number 16 seed hits double six for a second leg running, to convert a 69 finish.
2-1 - Whitlock holds throw in 13 darts to get a leg on the board.
3-1 - Wright hits double ten to win the first set.
1-0 - Wright holds throw on double eight, after Whitlock missed double top for a 100 finish.
2-0 - Whitlock leaves 81 after nine darts, but fails with four attempts at doubles, and Wright punishes his opponent by hitting double 16 for a 64 finish.
2-1 - The Australian lands double nine for an 87 finish to break throw.
2-2 - Whitlock hits double 18 with an accuarte third dart for 84 finish, with Wright waiting on 32.
3-2 - Wright converts a 61 finish on double top to move further ahead.
1-0 - Wright finds the double five bed with his third dart to break Whitlock's throw.
1-1 - Whitlock hits back with scores of 180, 140 and 133 before hitting double 16, to win the leg in 12 darts.
2-1 - Wright breaks his opponent's throw on double 12.
3-1 - The Scot hits double 16 to establish a three-set lead.
0-1 - Whitlock starts the set in impressive fashion by finishing a 130 checkout on the bullseye.
0-2 - The number four seed lands double top for a 13-dart finish.
1-2 - Wright hits double 16 at the first time of asking.
1-3 - Wright misses double eight for a 127 finish and Whitlock hits tops to reduce the deficit.
1-0 - Wright breaks throw on double 16 for a 62 finish.
2-0 - The number 16 seed continues the excellent finishing, as he hits double 18 for a 110 checkout.
2-1 - Whitlock wins the third leg on double 16, defying a 180 from his opponent.
3-1 - Wright finds the double 16 bed once again to regain his three-set lead.
1-0 - Whitlock starts the leg with a 180, but Wright ends it with a 65 finish on double top.
2-0 - Wright hits double top again to complete a 13-dart finish.
3-0 - Whitlock hits a third 180, only to see Wright take the leg on double eight with another 13-darter.
1-0 - Whitlock misses three chances to hold throw, and Wright hits double 16 for an 84 finish to win a fifth leg in a row.
1-1 - The Australian converts an 84 finish of his own by hitting double 12.
1-2 - Whitlock takes out a 70 finish on double top.
2-2 - Wright hits double 16 for a 14-darter to move a leg away from victory.
2-3 - Whitlock holds his nerve to hit double top, with his opponent waiting on a two-darter for the match.
1-0 - Whitlock hits a fifth 180, but a missed dart at the bullseye for a 170 checkout, sees Wright win the leg on double eight.
2-0 - Both players hit maximums before Whitlock misses six shots at doubles across three visits, and Wright hits double four with his third dart.
2-1 - Whitlock hits double two to keep the match alive.
3-1 - Wright kicks-off the leg with a 180 before landing double eight to confirm a superb victory.
MICHAEL VAN GERWEN 6-0 ADRIAN LEWIS
(3-1, 3-2, 3-1, 3-0, 3-1, 3-2)
MICHAEL VAN GERWEN reached the final of the World Darts Championship for a second succssive year with a stunning 6-0 victory over two-time World Champion Adrian Lewis.
The world number two dropped just four legs in establishing a 4-0 lead, before going on to complete the demolition in just 40 minutes to leave Lewis stunned.
The Stoke ace missed 18 darts at doubles during the game and won just seven legs as he suffered a semi-final nightmare in seeing his bid for a third Alexandra Palace triumph shattered by his great rival.
"I'm really pleased to win the game in this fashion, and to be involved in the final for a second straight year feels fantastic," said van Gerwen, who ended the game with a 103.02 average.
"Adrian missed a couple of chances to win the first leg which I managed to win, and the game followed a similar pattern from there.
"Adrian didn't play badly and certainly didn't deserve to lose 6-0, but I took my chances really well tonight and timed them to perfection.
"Even at 5-0 up I kept my focus, as Adrian is a class player and can produce a long run of winning legs in quick time, so it was a great feeling to hit double 11 and end the game.
"I can relax tomorrow and prepare myself for the final against Peter. Many will probably regard me as favourite, but Peter has produced a very high standard in all his games and will be a dangerous opponent."
Van Gerwen stole the first leg on double 16 after Lewis missed three chances to hold throw, before the second also fell the Dutchman's way with a 14-darter.
Lewis won the third leg on double top, before van Gerwen sealed the opening set with a brilliant 12-dart finish, after both players had hit 180s.
The players shared the opening two legs of the second before van Gerwen hit a 146 checkout to win the third, only for Lewis to better that with a 158 finish to force a decider.
Maximums were recorded by both stars in the set's final leg before van Gerwen took out 85 in two darts to move two sets clear.
The opening two legs of the third set fell in favour of the Dutch superstar, after Lewis had missed opportunities to win both.
Lewis won the third leg on double ten, before van Gerwen moved three sets in front with a clinical two-dart 72 finish.
The reigning Premier League Darts champion continued the incredible standard in the fourth set as he recorded a 121 checkout in the first leg before a sensational 154 finish in the third confirmed a 4-0 lead.
The first two legs of the fifth set were shared before Lewis was guilty of missing two more chances at double top to win the third leg, which van Gerwen took with a 72 finish.
Van Gerwen stormed through the opening two legs of set six with finishes of 13 and 14 darts, before Lewis showed great character to take the next two legs.
The Dutch ace, though, took command of the decider with consecutive 140s before hitting double 11 to dismiss the two-time World Champion.
Afterwards, a dejected Lewis said: "My scoring reached a pretty high level, but I missed so many doubles early on and I never really recovered.
"It was just one of those nights for me, but I'll be back to create some more damage and come here next year aiming for a third World Championship title.
"If Michael performs how he did tonight, hitting big scores and taking out the big finishes then I think he will beat Peter and become World Champion."
1-0 - Lewis hits a 180 but three missed darts at doubles prove costly as van Gerwen hits double 16 to break throw.
2-0 - Both players start with maximums before van Gerwen hits double nine to record another 14-darter.
2-1 - Lewis hits double top with his third dart as he gets a leg on the board.
3-1 - van Gerwen posts his second 180 and goes to hit double 16 for an 82 finish for a brilliant 12-darter to win the set.
0-1 - The players continue their brilliant scoring as they trade 180s before Lewis pinches the leg on double top, after van Gerwen misses two attempts at doubles.
1-1 - van Gerwen breaks back by converting a 71 finish on double top.
2-1 - van Gerwen adds a fourth 180 to his tally before hitting a superb 146 checkout.
2-2 - Lewis hits back with a fantastic 158 checkout to continue the brilliant standard.
3-2 - van Gerwen hits another 180 in the process of leaving 85 after nine darts. Lewis hits a 180 of his own to leave 88, only for van Gerwen to take out a two-dart 85 finish on double 14.
1-0 - Lewis hits a fifth 180 to dominate the leg, but wastes six opportunities to hold throw and van Gerwen capitalises on double 16.
2-0 - van Gerwen hits double eight, after Lewis fails with two more shots at doubles.
2-1 - Both players miss one chance at double top before Lewis returns to land double ten.
3-1 - Lewis kicks off the leg with consecutive 140s but fails to build on that good start as van Gerwen hits a clinical two-dart 72 finish to move three sets up.
1-0 - van Gerwen hits double 16 for a 121 finish.
2-0 - The world number two lands double top to break, after Lewis had missed one dart at the same double.
3-0 - Lewis leaves 42 after 12 darts, only for van Gerwen to win the set in sensational fashion with a 154 checkout.
0-1 - Lewis makes a positive start to set five as he converts a 112 finish.
1-1 - van Gerwen levels in 14 darts, hitting double top at the first attempt.
2-1 - Lewis fails with two more attempts at tops, and van Gerwen hits the same double to complete a 72 finish.
3-1 - The number three seed is unable to set up a shot a double to take out a 100 finish, and van Gerwen hits double 16 to move set away from victory.
1-0 - van Gerwen holds throw on double top to complete an excellent 13-darter.
2-0 - The Dutchman hits double top once again for a 14-dart finish.
2-1 - Lewis takes out a 62 finish on double 16 to break van Gerwen's throw.
2-2 - The Stoke ace lands double eight, with his opponent waiting on 64 for the match.
3-2 - van Gerwen hits consecutive 140s to take command of the leg, and lands double 11 to confirm a whitewash win.