Reigning champion Michael van Gerwen aims to book his place in a fifth World Championship final at the expense of…
Reigning champion Michael van Gerwen aims to book his place in a fifth World Championship final at the expense of new sensation Nathan Aspinall at Alexandra Palace on Monday.
Van Gerwen has upheld his ruthless record in the sport’s show-piece, winning through to a seventh time in his last eight appearances at Ally Pally, but will not be content to stop there.
The world number one is out to move another step closer to retaining the world title for the first time and extending his unbeaten run in this competition to 11 matches.
The reigning Premier League and World Grand Prix champion dropped just one set in seeing off Jelle Klaasen (3-1), Ricky Evans (4-0) and Stephen Bunting (4-0) en route to the Quarter-Finals, before recovering from a slow start to dispatch Darius Labanauskas 5-2 in the Last Four.
By his own admission, Van Gerwen has not been at his vintage best over the festive period so far, but will look to go through the gears over the long format which has so often played into his hands.
Aspinall put his name on the darting map by reaching the Semis as a 500/1 outsider last year and has not looked back since, claiming his first major title at the UK Open in March before backing it up with a debut World Series triumph at the U.S Masters.
The Stockport ace followed up his opening win over America’s Danny Baggish with a superb all-round display to see off Polish ace Krzysztof Ratajski 4-3 with a 98.5 average before pulling off what he described as one of the biggest wins of his career as he defeated two-time World Champion Gary Anderson 4-2.
Aspinall, who has made the Ally Pally stage his second home since he first set foot on it 12 months ago, held off a stern challenge from Dimitri van den Bergh to prevail 5-3 in Sunday’s Quarter-Finals.
World number 12 heading into the tournament, ‘The Asp’ is now provisionally in the world’s top ten and will look to cap off a fairy-tale year by booking his place in the sport’s show-piece fixture.
This will be the fifth meeting between the two players, having shared two wins apiece since 2015, the most recent of which going the way of Aspinall in the Last 16 of September Gibraltar Trophy.
The second Semi-Final gets underway from 9.15pm GMT and will be contested over the best of 11 sets, best of five legs per set.
A tie-break will be in operation, where the final set must be won by two clear legs. If the score reaches 5-5, the 11th leg will be sudden-death.
Either third seed and Grand Slam champion Gerwyn Price or seventh seed and 2014 world finalist Peter Wright will await the winner in the final on New Year’s Day.
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Van Gerwen: “I will put everything right for the next match.
“Nathan is having a great year and I think we can have a fantastic game but if I play to my top level I will have too much for him.
“Nathan looks up to me, I know that, but I’m going to use that against him.”
Aspinall: “I love being here and I want to put on a show for the fans, which is what I will aim to do.
“I bet him last time I played him, in fact I was 5-0 up against him so I know I can beat the guy, it’s a longer format and bigger occasion but I thin he knows that I can beat him.
“It’ll be a tough game, a good game, and hopefully I can come out on top.”