Gary Anderson and Michael Smith will collide in the Semi-Finals of the 2020 World Matchplay after overcoming Simon Whitlock and…
Gary Anderson and Michael Smith will collide in the Semi-Finals of the 2020 World Matchplay after overcoming Simon Whitlock and Krzysztof Ratajski respectively in the Last Eight on Thursday.
Anderson, the 2018 champion, is the only former winner of the Phil Taylor Trophy left standing in the competition and remained on course to double his tally by denying Whitlock 16-12.
The two-time World Champion was given a stern examination from Whitlock, who had knocked out Michael van Gerwen in Round One, but kept the Australian at bay for the majority of a thrilling contest.
Anderson began brightly by racing into a 4-1 lead, and after Whitlock took out 100 in leg six, the Scot replied with a 13-darter to regain a three-leg cushion.
Anderson remained clear at 7-4, before Whitlock fired in consecutive finishes of 108 and 120 to close the gap to just one leg.
World Cup winner Anderson then powered his way into a 10-6 advantage but ‘The Wizard’ came storming back with four straight legs of his own to level up.
The pair remained level until the 25th leg when Anderson landed a 13-darter, sparking a further three consecutive legs in his favour to clinch victory with a 98 average and nine 180s.
“I’ve made hard work of that tonight but that’s what Simon can do to you,” said Anderson.
“He battles and makes you work for it so it was a slog to get it done.
“Hopefully I’m sat here on Sunday with a trophy but I’m taking it one game at a time and it’s going to be another tough fight against Michael Smith on Saturday.
“He’s got a good record against me recently and is playing some brilliant darts, I’ve been saying how good he is for years and although it’s a bit late he’s finally starting to come through to the top,” concluded the Scot about his last four opponent.
“It’s not Blackpool, it’s weird, but it would still be nice to win it.”
Anderson will meet his protégé Smith in Saturday’s Semi-Finals after the 2019 Betfred World Matchplay runner-up made it into the Last Four with a 16-13 success over Ratajski.
The match began with Smith taking a 2-0 lead courtesy of a break of throw before Ratajski immediately broke back with a superb 128 checkout on the bull.
With the match evenly poised at five-all, the Pole took the lead for the first time with a break but was unable to press on as he was hauled back at the first attempt by Smith.
The 14th leg saw Smith miss four darts to take an 8-6, allowing Ratajski to step in a level up at 7-7 before a stunning 161 checkout saw him break again to lead 8-7.
The Englishman, once again broke back at the first time of asking, levelling the game up this time at 8-8.
The 18th leg saw yet another ton-plus finish from Ratajski as he took out 139 on tops to see the score move to nine apiece.
A hold of throw followed for Smith who then stole back the initiative on Ratajski’s throw in leg 20 to lead 11-9.
The former Shanghai Masters winner then moved further clear, pinning double six for a three leg advantage, before yet another break of throw saw him move 13-9 ahead.
A fifth consecutive leg followed for Smith before Ratajski stopped the rot on tops to trail 14-10.
Former World Master Ratajski then closed the gap further with a break of throw, punishing Smith for a missed dart at tops to go within a leg of the winning line.
Despite constant pressure in almost every leg from Ratajski, the Englishman was able to get over the line, sealing a second consecutive Matchplay Semi-Final appearance.
“Last year I embarrassed myself in the final, I just want another crack at it now,” said Smith.
“I want this so bad, maybe too much sometimes but I know once I get that first one like MVG did then the wins will start to flow.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself but today I proved I can handle it against a really classy player.”
The final two spots in the 2020 Betfred World Matchplay will be decided on Friday night as Adrian Lewis takes on Dimitri Van den Bergh before Glen Durrant faces Vincent van der Voort.
Betfred World Matchplay 2020 Results
Thursday July 23
Michael Smith 16-13 Krzysztof Ratajski
Gary Anderson 16-12 Simon Whitlock