Cross and Gurney face off for the right to reach their first Matchplay final (credit:Michael Cooper/PDC)
Seeds two and three lock horns in a finely-poised opening Semi-Final at the 2019 World Matchplay on Saturday as Rob Cross takes on Daryl Gurney in Blackpool.
The two Premier League stars came through epic Quarter-Final battles on Friday to remain in the running for the £150,000 top prize and the chance to become the new name on the Phil Taylor Trophy.
Gurney is now bidding to go one better than his run here two years ago, while Cross looks to continue his ground-breaking campaign at the Winter Gardens and reach a third major final of the season.
Cross, making only his third appearance in this prestigious competition, was ruthless in winning through to the Quarter-Finals, dropping just eight legs in victories over Chris Dobey (10-3) and Polish number one Krzysztof Ratajski (11-5).
The world number two then held off a magnificent fightback from Stephen Bunting to close out a 16-14 victory with a 101 average and a 170 checkout along the way.
The 28-year-old is aiming to finally follow up his fairy-tale World Championship triumph in January 2018 by adding the sport’s second biggest major to his haul, having finished runner-up in both the UK Open and Premier League this year.
Gurney, meanwhile, is out to add this trophy to his 2017 World Grand Prix and 2018 Players Championship Finals titles and continue his remarkable rise.
The Northern Irish ace saw off debutant Ricky Evans 10-7 in Round One before defeating Keegan Brown 11-9 and went on to deny Peter Wright in arguably the match of the tournament so far, averaging 101.8 to the Scot’s 104.5 in a pulsating 16-13 triumph.
Gurney was agonisingly beaten by Wright in the Semi-Finals here two years ago and now has the chance to make amends and move to within touching distance of a place in the history books.
Cross has won three of their last four meetings, including both fixtures in this season’s Premier League, and six of their ten in total, including a 13-11 success in the Semi-Finals of the 2017 European Championship.
Their latest show-down gets underway from 7.15pm 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 World Championship finalist Michael Smith or reigning and three-time Lakeside Champion Glen Durrant will await the winner in Sunday’s final.
Cross: “I’ve learnt a lot over the last two years and I’m starting to get there now. Hopefully there will be a happy ending for me here.
“I still wouldn’t say anyone is favourite, I think it’s very even and all four of us can win on our day. The key is going to be which of us turns up with our ‘A’ game.
“If I play like I can then I’ve got every chance of winning it.”
Gurney: “I know I’m never going to be the best player in the world, but I’m a grafter who can beat the best players in the world.
“As usual I did it the hard way, but I’m through now and I’ve got a massive opportunity to win this title.
“When you’re playing in the Semi-Finals against a player like Rob Cross, you might as well be playing First Round again so I’ll not count my chickens.”