Raymond van Barneveld inflicted quarter-final defeat on Michael van Gerwen for the second tournament in succession, as MvG’s miserable World Series continues.
Van Barneveld fought back from 4-1 down to win four consecutive legs, before capitalising on missed doubles from van Gerwen, to win the final two legs and claim a stunning 8-7 victory on the bullseye.
Van Gerwen began in purposeful fashion, holding his throw comfortably, before breaking throw with a classy 101 checkout. Raymond got his first leg on the board in leg four; however the World Number 1’s response was emphatic, taking out 88 on D7.
The crucial moment in the encounter came in the sixth leg, just before the interval. MvG missed three darts at double for another break and a 5-1 advantage; van Barneveld took full advantage of this reprieve, reducing the deficit to 4-2.
This sparked a remarkable revival from the veteran Dutchman, who won four consecutive legs to lead 5-4. Van Gerwen’s average was languishing in the low 90’s and RvB was in control, but after he wired D16 for a 106 checkout and 6-4 lead, Michael converted D5 to restore parity once again.
Van Gerwen has the ability and temperament to produce truly magical moments even if he is looking distinctly mediocre. This was evidenced in the 11th leg, as he delivered a 167 finish for 6-5. Van Barneveld remained unperturbed, converting D1 for 6-6 after a dominant scoring leg.
MvG held his nerve to move one leg away from victory in the 13th leg, but squandered two darts at D8 to seal an 8-6 win. Barney showed tremendous composure, cleaning up a difficult 64 checkout with the solitary dart at D16.
This visibly affected van Gerwen, who began the deciding leg with scores of 42 and 70. Van Barneveld was also struggling for consistency on the T20, but had a chance on 84 to secure a memorable win after MvG couldn’t take out 106. Barney made no mistake; hitting bullseye with his final dart, to spark jubilant scenes of relief.
MvG will be extremely disappointed with his World Series performances down under, but he put himself under too much pressure in the remaining legs, as he visibly tightened up significantly, which is uncharacteristic for a man of his quality and mental strength.
Barney appeared relaxed throughout and although this wasn’t a vintage performance in terms of averages, he noted how important it was for his confidence to come through on the ‘right side’ of these last-leg deciders. Van Barneveld admitted: “What a relief! I fought back and Michael gave me a chance, I’m delighted to get the win!”
Van Barneveld will face James Wade in the first semi-final tomorrow. Wade was at his clinical best as he defeated Peter Wright 8-5. Wade averaged 100 and boasted an impressive 62% checkout percentage.
Phil Taylor’s impeccable World Series record continues as he eased past a battling Simon Whitlock in Auckland. Taylor appeared on the verge of whitewashing the Australian, as he led 7-0 at one stage.
However, Whitlock demonstrated his tenacious nature, winning three consecutive legs to add some respectability to the score-line, before Taylor eventually clinched an 8-3 victory. Taylor was superb and was averaging over 108 for long periods. He will take some stopping!
Nevertheless, one man who believes he could be the one to do it is Adrian Lewis. Lewis won a high quality quarter-final against World Champion Gary Anderson. Both men averaged over 100, yet it was Lewis who prevailed 8-4. He’s in bullish mood ahead of tomorrow’s All-Stoke Semi-Final: “I’m feeling as good as I have for a while. It’s going to take a phenomenal display to beat me.”