The final four collide in the 2020 World Matchplay Semi-Finals on Saturday as the race to lift the Phil Taylor…
The final four collide in the 2020 World Matchplay Semi-Finals on Saturday as the race to lift the Phil Taylor Trophy heads for a captivating climax.
The tournament’s first ever staging behind closed doors and away from the Winter Gardens in Blackpool has produced, quality, drama and controversy in abundance over the past seven days, now just four are left standing in pursuit of the £150,000 title.
Only one man present in the Semi-Final line-up has previously lifted this iconic trophy, while a first-time finalist is already guaranteed from the bottom half of the draw.
Gary Anderson is the man who knows exactly what it takes to go the distance in this long-haul format, having triumphed at the Winter Gardens two years ago.
The two-time World Champion has shrugged off an indifferent spell of form after the restart to reach the latter stages of the sport’s summer show-piece once again and now faces a mouth-watering clash with his close friend Michael Smith.
Anderson began his run with a workmanlike 10-5 victory over Justin Pipe despite an average of just 90, but blew off the cobwebs by defeating 2007 champion James Wade 11-8 in the Last 16.
Bidding to become only the fourth multiple Matchplay winner since the tournament was introduced in 1994, ‘The Flying Scotsman’ went on to defeat Simon Whitlock 16-12 with a 98 average to continue his steady improvement as the rounds progress.
Smith, meanwhile, came to Milton Keynes as a man on a mission as he looks to go one better than last year’s heartbreak at the hands of Rob Cross in the final.
The St Helens ace was emphatic in his opening salvo, thrashing Jonny Clayton 10-3 with a 101 average, before coming through an epic tie break to deny Mensur Suljovic 14-12 and fend off another thorough test from Krzysztof Ratajski 16-13 in the Quarter-Finals.
Smith is now appearing in his fifth major Semi-Final since the beginning of 2019 and is eyeing a fifth straight win over his former mentor.
The second Semi-Final sees two stablemates become enemies on the big stage as Glen Durrant takes on Dimitri van den Bergh.
Both players have taken an instant liking to the Betfred World Matchplay, with both boasting 100 per cent records of having reached this stage of the competition.
Durrant is appearing in his second successive Semi-Final, having lost out to Smith on debut 12 months ago, and has continued his superb run of consistency in PDC majors.
This will be the Teessider’s fourth major Semi-Final appearance in the space of 12 months, but he is now looking to take the next step and reach his first PDC major final.
The three-time BDO World Champion, now firmly established among the world’s top 16, is counting his lucky stars to be still standing in the competition after coming through a marathon battle against Vincent van der Voort on Friday night.
Durrant overturned a 10-5 deficit to prevail 18-16 in a tie break despite being far below his best, but will look to put that performance behind him and regain the form which saw him thrash Jeffrey de Zwaan in Round One with a 107 average and defeat Peter Wright in the Last 16.
Van den Bergh has enjoyed a dream World Matchplay debut so far, underlining his love for the televised stage by defeating Nathan Aspinall 10-5, Joe Cullen 11-9 and Adrian Lewis 16-12.
The former World Youth Champion, twice a World Championship quarter-finalist, is into his first major Semi-Final and will be quietly confident of extending this landmark run.
He is bidding to become the first Belgian player to win a major PDC title and is already up to a career-high 17th on the Order of Merit with the power to add.
Durrant picked up his first PDC title at the expense of Van den Bergh, prevailing 8-3 in the final of a Players Championship event last year.
The action gets underway from 8pm BST, with Semi-Final matches to be contested over the best of 33 legs.
All matches must be won by two clear legs, with a match being extended if necessary for a maximum of six extra legs before a sudden death leg is required.
World Matchplay 2020 Match Schedule
Saturday July 25
8.15pm Michael Smith v Gary Anderson
9.45pm Glen Durrant v Dimitri van den Bergh