World Matchplay darts: Michael van Gerwen to face Phil Taylor in Blackpool final
By Stephen Pass
Last Updated: 27/07/14 8:31am
Michael van Gerwen beat Simon Whitlock to reach his first World Matchplay final where he will face reigning champion Phil Taylor, who got the better of Gary Anderson in a thriller.
Reigning world champion van Gerwen won four legs at the death to prevail 17-13 over Whitlock, who showed great tenacity to stay in the contest up to that point.
The Dutch thrower served notice of his intent in Blackpool with a 180 in the first leg and then broke Whitlock as he raced to a 2-0 lead, but the Wizard hit back, winning four legs on the spin to take a shock 4-2 lead.
The pair shared legs before van Gerwen hit tops and finished off an 80 checkout with tops to break and draw level at 5-5.
Whitlock broke straight back and held his throw with a 112 checkout to restore his two-leg advantage at 7-5, before the No 1 seed won five legs on the bounce – including a 138 checkout in leg 16 – to race into a 10-7 lead.
Australian Whitlock again showed his fighting qualities to battle back to 13-13, but van Gerwen's decisive four-leg run saw him to the finish line, winning with a double three.
The Dutchman, who averaged 99.75 and hit 55 per cent of his doubles in the win, told Sky Sports: "It's the first time in my life I've reached the final of it (the World Matchplay) and it's such a fantastic tournament.
"But I needed to put in very hard work. Simon made it very difficult but I thought I had more in the tank, but I couldn’t find my rythmn.
"But I did very well at the end when I needed to."
Taylor beat Anderson 17-15 in the other semi-final to keep his dream alive of winning a seventh successive title – and 15th overall.
The game went with throw – with The Power hitting a 119 checkout with the bull to win the opening leg and an 11-darter to hold in the fifth – before he notched the first break in the sixth leg, hitting tops to move 4-2 ahead after Anderson missed a 36 checkout.
Taylor won the next but Anderson hit an 11-darter to stay in the game and took out tops to break back, but the No 2 seed responded in kind immediately and then held his own throw to lead 7-4.
Anderson hit double four to reduce the arrears and took out successive 108 and 105 checkouts – both with tops – to level before he made Taylor pay for missing tops by sinking it himself to lead 8-7.
But Taylor hit double 18 to break straight back and the game then went with throw to 11-10 before The Power hit a 146 checkout to break and hold a two-leg advantage.
While Anderson broke straight back with an 11-darter, Taylor broke again in the madhouse to restore his two-leg lead and pulled further ahead with double 16.
Anderson sunk double eight to reduce the arrears but narrowly missed out on a 170 checkout and Taylor hit double four to move 15-12 ahead and the game then went with throw to 16-14.
The Power then missed four darts for the match at double 18 and Anderson hit tops to stay alive, but Taylor was not to be denied and sunk a two-dart 81 checkout to win.
A relieved Taylor, who averaged 105.27 in the win and has yet to lose a final in Blackpool, said: "I just couldn’t seem to get on top of him – I was hitting him with everything, he just doesn't stop and he’s got that belief in himself again, I've not seen Gary Anderson like this for four or five years."