John Henderson stuns Raymond van Barneveld at World Grand Prix
World No 3 Peter Wright also crashes out as Mensur Sulojvic edges closer to back-to-back majors
By Paul Prenderville at the Citywest Hotel
Last Updated: 06/10/17 8:08am
John Henderson's fairytale run at the World Grand Prix continued as he came from a set down to stun Raymond van Barneveld and book a semi-final spot in Dublin.
The big Scot, the world No 32, had already beaten defending champion and world No 1 Michael van Gerwen in the first round and Alan Norris in the second to set up his date with Dutch darting doyen Barney.
Despite losing the opening set, Henderson took advantage of a below-par Van Barneveld to storm back and take almost every chance that fell his way to seal a spot in his first major televised semi-final, where he will face Daryl Gurney who beat Robert Thornton in a final-leg decider in the final match of the night.
In the bottom half of the draw, Mensur Suljovic remains on course for back-to-back majors, thanks to a 3-1 victory over Peter Wright who entered Thursday's action as the bookmakers' favourite.
The Austrian, who claimed the Champions League of Darts last month, is the only seed left in the competition having seen off Snakebite with a barrage of big finishes to book his last-four date with Simon Whitlock.
The Wizard reached his first major semi-final in more than three years with a thumping 3-0 victory over Benito van de Pas whose form deserted him on the night. The Dutchman won just two legs as Whitlock romped into the last four - the 2010 World Championship runner-up recording his best-ever showing in Dublin.
VOTE: World Grand Prix Winner
Cast your verdict on who wins the title from the four remaining contenders
John Henderson v Daryl Gurney
Simon Whitlock v Mensur Suljovic
The story of the night, and indeed the week, remains Henderson and he did it the hard way against Van Barneveld, who was chasing his first Grand Prix title having twice lost in the final.
The five-time world champion swept through the opening set, a couple of 90+ finishes enough to hand him the early initiative. But, with the game in the palm of his hand, his form deserted him.
Henderson moved in, and with little more than steady darts, the Scot levelled the match as Van Barneveld's average plummeted.
The Highlander took the opening leg of the third set but a see-saw contest, with the pair locked at 2-2, went all the way to the deciding leg.
Barney got his chance first and missed double 16 for the set and he saw Henderson return to clean up an 88 check-out, courtesy of a bullseye finish that clung to the board by the narrowest of margins.
Henderson eased to the opening leg of the fourth set, pinning double 10 with Barney not even on a finish, and, while the Dutchman piled on the pressure in the second, Hendo remained calm to move one leg from the match.
With the crowd roaring him on, Barney nailed the next two legs, only to crumble in the decider as Henderson remained rock-solid to clean up 60 and seal his memorable victory.
With Barney joining the ousted MVG and the absent Phil Taylor and Gary Anderson in exiting the tournament, all eyes switched to Peter 'Snakebite' Wright, the world No 3 and winner of 10 titles on the circuit in 2017.
However, Suljovic is in rare form himself having won all five matches on his way to the Champions League title in Cardiff.
Having seen Wright miss three darts for the opening leg, the Austrian took out a brilliant 122 via the bullseye and kept his nose in front until four darts for the set went begging and Snakebite levelled.
Four more missed darts from Suljovic went awry in the decider and Wright - a punisher of mistakes these days - pinched the opener.
Suljovic hit back to claim the second set, showcasing his finishing skills with a brilliant 99 sealing the set.
More of the same followed in the second when Wright, with the Austrian sitting on 135 and 2-0 in front, fired a couple of wasteful darts and was duly punished as Suljovic took out a brilliant 135 thanks to a bullseye and treble 17 setting up his favoured double 14 which he pinned to complete the combination.
Suljovic again raced into a 2-0 lead, only to be pegged pack by a dogged Wright, but Suljovic was not to be denied as he pinned a sensational 141 finish to wrap up his semi-final spot.
In the opening match of the night, Whitlock, playing in his third Grand Prix quarter-final, reeled off the opening three legs with little trouble as Van de Pas' form of his second-round victory disappeared.
The Dutchman demolished Gerwyn Price on Wednesday but was no match for The Wizard early on, and the pattern continued in the second with a breathtaking 120 finish from Whitlock that included two bullseyes giving him a 2-0 lead in the set.
Van de Pas finally stopped the rot by getting on the board in the sixth leg of the match, but only after five missed darts for the set from Whitlock. The Dutchman was not without fault, having pinned single 20 to bust his score, but he pounced to take out his first leg courtesy of double two.
But it merely delayed the inevitable as double 10 gave Whitlock a 2-0 lead.
The misery continued for Van de Pas in the final set, the Dutchman, having averaged almost 100 against Price, could not get above 80 as Whitlock sealed his place in the last four for the loss of just one more leg.
The final match of the night saw Derry-born Gurney raise the roof by booking his showdown with Henderson courtesy of victory over two-time major champion Thornton.
Gurney was forced to battle a typically tenacious performance from Thornton who fought back to take the second set after Gurney had little trouble in claiming the opener.
There was little between the pair and it was inevitable that the match would go to a decider that saw Thornton start fastest, punishing Gurney's three missed darts at a double to take out a brilliant 116 against the throw.
Gurney reeled off the next two legs only to fold in the fourth leg before eventually wrapping up the victory and a place in his third major televised semi-final of the year.
The Northern Irishman was beaten in the last four of the UK Open and the World Matchplay, but in a tournament that has been thrown open since day one, the title is anyone's for the taking.
World Grand Prix - Quarter-Final Results
Simon Whitlock 3-0 Benito van de Pas
John Henderson 3-1 Raymond van Barneveld
Mensur Suljovic 3-1 Peter Wright
Daryl Gurney 3-2 Robert Thornton
The World Grand Prix continues on Sky Sports Arena and Sky Sports Main Event with coverage of both semi-finals from 7pm on Friday
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