Durrant salutes the crowd (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)
Glen Durrant looks to move a step closer to a fairy-tale debut triumph at the 2019 World Matchplay by ending Michael Smith’s latest bid for a maiden major title.
The in-form duo collide in an unmissable second Semi-Final at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool on Saturday with a date with destiny on the line in this historic competition.
Durrant is in dreamland after taking the scalp of three multiple PDC major champions to progress to the penultimate round at the first time of asking on a stage he had long dreamt of competing on.
The three-time Lakeside Champion, who came here as a spectator 12 months ago, has taken the tournament by storm as an unseeded qualifier and now has his sights set on becoming only the ninth different name on this iconic trophy.
The proud Teessider began his run by thrashing Adrian Lewis 10-4 with a 101 average, before sensationally knocking out Michael van Gerwen 13-11 in the ‘battle of the World Champions’.
A different type of test followed in the Quarter-Finals as ‘Duzza’ came up against Matchplay specialist James Wade, but the Middlesbrough man took it in his stride to comfortably prevail 16-7.
Looking to crush Durrant’s dream of glory is world number six Smith, who is also appearing at this stage of the competition for the first time.
The former Shanghai Masters winner came from 4-1 down to defeat debutant Jamie Hughes 10-7 in Round One before holding his nerve in a tense tie break to deny Max Hopp 12-10 in another high quality affair.
He then shrugged off the challenge of Mervyn King with a 16-11 success in the Last Eight and has embarked on a run which could ignite what has been a below-par season to date by his own high standards.
The 28-year-old has fallen short in two major finals over the past 14 months but is now presented with perhaps his best opportunity yet to open his account.
The pair have met twice in floor competition this year, both Quarter-Finals, winning one game apiece.
Their first televised encounter gets underway from around 8.45pm BST and will be contested over the best of 33 legs. Should it fail to be won by two clear legs, the match will proceed for a maximum of five additional legs before a sudden death leg is required.
Either 2018 World Champion Rob Cross or two-time major champion Daryl Gurney will await the winner in Sunday’s final.
Smith: “It feels good to be in the semis but I want to get to the final and have the chance to lift the trophy now.
“You’ve got to put the heat to the back of your mind, realise you’ve got one job to do and that’s win the match.
“There’s no pressure, Phil [Taylor] was 34 I think when he won his first one, I came stright from school into the PDC pretty much, I’ve never gone backwards so as long as I keep progressing like that, one of them will come.
Durrant: “I’m in the Semi-Finals of the World Matchplay, the whole of Middlesbrough are right behind me, let’s see if we can do this.
“At the start of the tournament I just wanted to prove to the PDC crowd that I could handle playing on this stage, now I’m daring to dream of the title.
“I’m living the dream right now. I think the crowd are taking to me because they see an ordinary man who is having a whale of a time.
“I’m having a wonderful week, that’s the best way I can describe it. It’s such a special moment for me, it’s life-changing.”