Rob Cross wins 10 legs in a row to defeat Damon Heta while Stephen Bunting ends Stowe Buntz's dreams in Wolverhampton; Watch the 17th staging of the Grand Slam of Darts at the WV Active Aldersley - live on Sky Sports Arena from 1pm and Sky Sports Main Event from 7pm
Sunday 19 November 2023 16:40, UK
A classy performance from Rob Cross set up a semi-final showdown with Stephen Bunting at the Grand Slam of Darts in Wolverhampton.
Cross, the 2018 World Champion, ran away with his quarter-final match with Australian No 1 Damon Heta after claiming 10 legs in a row from 6-6 to win, while an in-form Bunting defeated American newcomer Stowe Buntz 16-8.
There will be a new name on the Eric Bristow Trophy in 2023, and Cross continued his bid for a fifth premier TV title with a comprehensive victory over Heta.
"Unfortunately Damon didn't play how he could," admitted Cross, who averaged 98 and pinned 46 per cent of his attempts at double to cap off another superb performance.
"I was averaging 97 at one stage and I didn't even feel like I had turned up yet. In my head it was horrific! I couldn't find that first dart.
"I wasn't happy with my performance at the start, but I'll take the win, wake up tomorrow and it's a different day.
"Having the semi-finals and final in one day is going to be tough. I've never experienced it before so I can't say I've had that luxury, but I feel in a really good place with my game."
Heta's combination finishing was a feature of his last-16 victory against Michael van Gerwen on Thursday, and he continued from where he left off in the early exchanges against 'Voltage'.
The former World Cup winner landed 120, 64 and 72 checkouts as the opening six legs were shared, although Cross seized the initiative at the second interval, producing a timely 12-darter to establish a 6-4 buffer.
Heta hit back to restore parity, but Cross punished a mid-game slump from the Australian to seize control, following a run of three straight legs with 116 and 89 checkouts to stretch his lead to 11-6.
Cross continued his relentless march towards victory as Heta's game unravelled, and the Hastings thrower extended his winning run to 10 legs to ease through to his first Grand Slam semi-final.
The 2018 World Champion will now take on Bunting for a place in Sunday evening's decider, after the Merseyside man produced a superb display of doubling to end Buntz's remarkable campaign.
The American debutant won the pair's Group E tussle last weekend, but Bunting avenged that result in some style, converting 62 per cent of his attempts at double to break new ground in Wolverhampton.
"It means the world," reflected the 38-year-old, who averaged 96 and crashed in six maximums to win through to his first premier televised semi-final since October 2021.
"There were some nerves tonight. I was a heavy favourite going into that game, and I still didn't know what to expect from Stowe.
"I said to him at the end of the match, he's a friend now. We've had two games on the stage, and I wish him all the best for the World Championship and the rest of his career.
"I've been putting in a lot of effort behind the scenes, but I couldn't do it without the crowd cheering me on. I really appreciate the support and I cannot wait for the semi-finals now."
Buntz missed darts at double for 147, 106 and 146 combinations in the early exchanges, and Bunting - aided by back-to-back 13-darters - capitalised to race into an early 4-1 lead.
The CDC Continental Cup champion responded to level at 6-6, but Bunting suddenly found his range midway through the contest, winning seven of the next eight legs to seize control at 13-7.
Bunting's 12-dart break of throw in leg 14 provided the spark, and he converted clinical 93, 101, 126 and 97 finishes during a blistering spell to move to the cusp of a place in the semi-finals.
The former Lakeside champion fired in another 12-darter on the bull to extend his lead to 14-7, and he continued the procession to end Buntz's record-breaking run.
Sunday at the Grand Slam of Darts sees the semi-finals and final taking place on a bumper day of action.
Three-time finalist James Wade and Luke Humphries, who lifted TV silverware for the first time at October's World Grand Prix, will meet in the first semi-final.
Wade defeated Josh Rock 16-15 in dramatic fashion, while Humphries beat Gary Anderson 16-14 on an unforgettable night of action.
And then four-time major winner Cross meets former Lakeside champion Bunting for a place in the evening's showpiece, with a £150,000 top prize on offer to the eventual champion.
Watch the action at the WV Active Aldersley unfold live on Sky Sports Arena from 1pm and Sky Sports Main Event from 7pm.
The sport's biggest event will be held from December 15, 2023 to January 3, 2024 as 96 players compete for the Sid Waddell Trophy and £2.5m in prize money at Alexandra Palace.
You can watch all the action live on our dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel.
Watch the 17th staging of the Grand Slam of Darts at the Aldersley Leisure Village live on Sky Sports Arena from 1pm, and Sky Sports Main Event from 7pm. Stream your favourite sports and more with NOW