Michael Smith v Nathan Aspinall: World Darts Championship Semi-Final preview - North West duo vie to reach first world final

Jamie Shaw in PDC Darts News 30 Dec 2018
Smith aims to set up a date with destiny (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

World number ten Michael Smith aims to book his place in a first World Championship final by ending the fairy-tale run of Nathan Aspinall at Alexandra Palace on Sunday night.

Smith, Shanghai Masters winner and Premier League finalist in 2018, is enjoying his best ever run at Ally Pally and is now just one win away from a date with destiny.

Despite a whole host of big names tumbling around him, 'Bully Boy' has marched into the Last Four without being overly troubled, defeating Ron Meulenkamp 3-1 before averaging 100.5 in a 4-2 win over John Henderson and 99.7 in a 4-1 defeat of Ryan Searle.

He then produced his most prolific display of the tournament so far by thrashing Luke Humphries 5-1 with a 103 average in the Quarter-Finals and will be hoping to repeat the dose on another of the sport's brightest emerging stars.

Smith, 28, announced his arrival into big time darts with victory over Phil Taylor on this very stage five years ago, but has now matured both on and off the oche and believes he is ready to fulfil his darting destiny.

Standing in the way of 'Bully Boy' and a place in Tuesday's final is world number 73 Aspinall - perhaps the biggest surprise package in a tournament littered with shocks.

Making his debut in the World Championship, 'The Asp' has underlined his eye-catching natural ability, defeating Geert Nentjes, Gerwyn Price, Kyle Anderson, Devon Petersen and Brendan Dolan, notably coming from two sets down and surviving a match dart to defeat Grand Slam champion Price.

The 27-year-old, who won back his Tour Card at Qualifying School in January, is already guaranteed a paycheque of £100,000, accounting for more than half of his total career earnings to date.

Aspinall, World Youth Championship runner-up in 2015, is now aiming to take the ultimate step and continue his life-changing run, but faces a huge task over an uncharted distance.

This will be the fourth competitive meeting between the two North West darters, with Smith having won three of their previous meetings, including a 6-4 win in the First Round of the 2017 European Championship.

Their latest encounter gets underway from 7pm GMT and will be contested over the best of 11 sets. All sets are the best of five legs.

A tie-break is in operation where the final set must be won by two clear legs. If the score reaches five-all, the 11th leg will be a sudden-death leg.

Either world number one Michael van Gerwen or fellow two-time World Champion Gary Anderson will await the winner in the final on New Year's Day.


Player's View:


Smith: "I'm happy with the way it's going at the minute, I'm in the Semi-Final I've got one more hurdle left to give myself that chance to live my dream and lift that title.

"Me and Nathan get on quite well, there's no rivalry between us, even before when he finished his match, I walked in and he gave me a hug and said: "I hope I play you tomorrow" just because we're good friends.

"He respects what I've done, I respect what he's doing but he's another hurdle in my way at the minute so I just need to perform."

Aspinall: "I'm on cloud nine, I was so proud of myself getting through my second game, let alone getting to the Semi-Finals.

"I've proved to myself that anything's possible. I've worked hard to get to where I am and I'm reaping the rewards.

"I'm in the Last Four - why can't I win it? Rob [Cross] went all the way last year, I'm playing good stuff and getting better with every round I play."



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Michael Smith v Nathan Aspinall: World Darts Championship Semi-Final preview - North West duo vie to reach first world final

World number ten Michael Smith aims to book his place in a first World Championship final by ending the fairy-tale run of Nathan Aspinall at Alexandra Palace on Sunday night.

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