Dimitri van den Bergh aims to book his place in a second successive World Matchplay final by ending the run…
Dimitri van den Bergh aims to book his place in a second successive World Matchplay final by ending the run of Krzysztof Ratajski in Blackpool on Saturday.
Van den Bergh claimed the title on his debut behind closed doors in Milton Keynes 12 months ago and has extended his unbeaten record in the event to eight matches.
The Belgian ace is bidding to become only the fourth player to successfully retain the Betfred World Matchplay title since the event began back in 1994.
He opened up with a comfortable 10-5 win over debutant Devon Petersen in Round One before averaging 103.7 and hitting a Second Round record of fourteen 180s in a pulsating 11-8 victory over Dave Chisnall.
The 27-year-old then pulled off a 16-9 victory over world number one Gerwyn Price in the Quarter-Finals with a 102.2 average, dominating a enthralling match which saw antics from both players.
Van den Bergh has already climbed three places in the PDC Order of Merit thanks to his exploits this week and would become world number four if he can retain the title.
Ratajski, meanwhile, came into this event having suffered seven First Round exits on the ProTour this season but has returned to form in emphatic fashion on the iconic Winter Gardens stage.
The Polish number one brushed aside Brendan Dolan 10-4 with a 101.5 average before overpowering Luke Humphries 11-5 with a 99.9 average to reach his second successive Matchplay Quarter-Final.
The number 13 seed broke new ground by overpowering debutant Callan Rydz 16-8 on Thursday to reach his first PDC major Semi-Final.
World Masters champion in 2017, Ratajski continues to go from strength-to-strength and remains unfazed by the big occasion, averaging 99.16 for the tournament.
Van den Bergh boasts a tournament average of 100.58 and 30 maximums to the Pole’s 17, though Ratajski has converted 42 percent of his attempts at doubles to the youngster’s 34.5 percent.
Their first televised meeting to date gets under way from 7.15pm BST and will be contested over the best of 33 legs.
The match must be won by two clear legs and will be extended if necessary for a maximum of six extra legs before a sudden death leg is required.
Either world number two Peter Wright or two-time World Matchplay champion Michael van Gerwen will await the winner in Sunday’s final.
Van den Bergh v Ratajski – Player’s View:
Van den Bergh: “It’s going to be a big battle on Saturday but I know how good Ratajski is and he showed it again today [Thursday].
“He’s fantastic and I’ve got to be focused and believe in myself.
“It would be unbelievable to be one of those players who defends this title but I’ve got to keep my feet on the ground.”
Ratajski: “I’m really happy and I feel great. It’s really something big for me.
“Every player dreams of winning this trophy so I hope I can play the semi-finals with less mistakes and do better on my doubles.
“It will be the biggest match of my career.”