Michael van Gerwen continued his quest for a third World Grand Prix title in Dublin, whilst Robert Thornton, Mensur Suljovic and Mark Webster all battled through to the semi-finals at the Citywest.
In the opening match of the evening, Gary Anderson’s conqueror Ian White faced Robert Thornton. With just one place separating the pair in the PDC World Rankings, this had all the prospects of being a very evenly-matched contest. This is exactly what transpired.
White endured a miserable start to the encounter, suffering double-trouble and an opening leg whitewash, before Thornton eventually claimed the first set 3-1.
The second set was very scrappy, with Thornton squandering a wonderful chance to edge 2-0 ahead. He missed two darts at D12 and D6, to before White produced a phenomenal 158 checkout to level up the contest.
This could have been the catalyst to switch the momentum in White’s favour, but Thornton deserved immense credit for his emphatic response in the third set. He won three legs without reply, which included a classy 88 finish to break.
The fourth set was a high-quality affair. White produced a nerveless 115 finish in the opening leg, but ‘The Thorn’ responded with a ton-plus finish of his own in the next leg. The set went to a decider and Thornton heaped massive pressure on ‘The Diamond’ with his 7th 180, but White held firm to convert a 54 finish and send the match into a fifth and final set.
Thornton converted 41 to move 1-0 ahead, but crucially missed darts at D18 and D9 to double his advantage. However, he rectified this error with a commanding leg on throw, culminating with a clinical 90 finish. Despite this, White ensured the match would go the distance, after Thornton again struggled to find a starting double.
Both men managed to start with their first attempt at D20, although the scoring was patchy as the tension inevitably affected both. Nevertheless, Thornton left D20 after 15 darts and whilst White pressured by leaving 49, the World Number 7 held his nerve to seal the win and a place in the last-four.
Mensur Suljovic’s magical World Grand Prix continued, as he won NINE consecutive legs against a self-imploding Vincent van der Voort.
The first set was a slightly mystifying affair. Van der Voort began in blistering fashion, hitting back-to-back maximums in the opening leg and breaking in 13 darts. However, he then missed 6 darts at D20 in the following leg, allowing Suljovic to break back instantly.
The Dutchman then failed to hit a double in his first visit for the following two legs, but inconsistent scoring from Mensur allowed Vincent to clinch the set with an eye-catching 128 checkout on the bull.
Vincent carried this momentum through into the following set, with a Raymond van Barneveld special; a 156 checkout. Suljovic then missed three darts at D10 as Vincent extended his lead. The Dutchman was on the verge of winning the set 3-0, but he inexplicably missed 9 clear darts at double, allowing the Austrian to steal the leg with a 90 finish.
Suljovic then enjoyed a rare dominant leg on throw and suddenly van der Voort was under pressure. The plethora of missed doubles were evidently playing on his mind and he produced an underwhelming scoring leg, handing Mensur the chance to clinch the set with an 88 finish. He duly obliged, clinically converting in two darts.
It was an extraordinary turnaround and it unquestionably affected Vincent in the following set. Suljovic raced into a 2-0 lead in legs, before van der Voort threatened a revival with his 5th 180 to leave D14. His fragilities on the doubles quickly re-emerged however, enabling ‘The Gentle’ to convert D9 for a 2-1 lead in sets.
Suljovic was cantering to the finishing line, with Vincent capitulating through sheer frustration. He appeared on the verge of halting his miserable streak, but he couldn’t convert 38 with three clear darts.
This didn’t appear to be a major issue with Suljovic on 170, but incredibly, the Austrian produced the maximum checkout to provoke wild scenes of celebrations, as he reached his first ever ranking major semi-final.
Van der Voort was virtually in an unassailable position in that second set, but after those 9 missed darts, he failed to win another leg, as Mensur reeled off nine legs on the spin. It was an astonishing turnaround that illustrated Mensur’s tenacity and determination; but Vincent will be seething with his collapse, after such brilliant displays in his previous two matches.
Elsewhere, Mark Webster secured a place in his first ever World Grand Prix semi-final, as he came through a pulsating last-leg decider against Jelle Klaasen. In the battle of the former Lakeside Champions, Webster began the match superbly with a classy 108 checkout. Klaasen was way-below par in the early exchanges and the Welshman won the opening set without reply.
Webster was romping away, as he secured his fifth successive leg to move 2-0 ahead in set two, but Klaasen eventually got his opening leg on the board with a 66 checkout. Nevertheless, the left-handed Webster was unflustered and regained his composure to clinch the set, despite Klaasen hitting three maximums in just two legs.
Jelle was absolutely imperious on the doubles against Dave Chisnall, nevertheless he was displaying fragility on the outer segments this time around, hitting 1 from his opening 11 attempts at double, which ‘The Spider’ was exploiting to the full.
Despite this, the 30-year-old Dutchman showed great character to bounce back in set three. Webster, who had been virtually flawless on the starting doubles, began to struggle on D20 and Klaasen secured the set 3-0 with a clinical two-dart 96 checkout.
The Welshman bounced back as he claimed the opening leg of set four, after Klaasen had narrowly missed D11 for a stunning 124 checkout, but the rampant Dutchman refused to be disheartened.
He held throw before producing a crucial 86 finish against the throw, which gave him the opportunity to restore parity; an unlikely prospect after the opening two sets. He duly converted, and suddenly he was favourite to reach just his second ever PDC ranking major.
The first two legs went with throw, before Webster capitalised on missed starting doubles from Klaasen to break. However, the 2006 Lakeside winner responded incredibly, hitting a 180 followed by a 177, to post a brilliant 11-darter and regain the advantage of throw in the fifth and deciding leg.
Despite this, Klaasen missed 5 darts to start the leg and although he delivered some late pressure in the leg to leave 77, Webby converted 56 with his final dart at D20, before leaping around the Citywest stage in euphoria.
Given his struggles over recent years, his unadulterated joy was completely understandable and brilliant to see. He has shown such resilience and determination to regain his form, and he’s one of the good guys in Darts!
In the final match of the evening, Michael van Gerwen romped into the semi-finals with a 3-0 win over Jamie Lewis, to keep his hopes of regaining his Grand Prix title firmly alive. The ‘Green Machine’ missed 10 darts to win the opening leg, but still managed to win it on D1, before comfortably winning the set without dropping a leg.
Jamie was battling valiantly, but was struggling to produce what we know he’s capable of. Van Gerwen was extremely comfortable and raced into a 2-0 lead in set two, before Lewis hit D20 to win his first leg, despite a 180 from van Gerwen in that leg. Nevertheless, van Gerwen was in ruthless mood and clinched the second set in leg four.
Jamie Lewis won his second leg of the match via D16 after the World Number 1 narrowly missed D10 for a sparkling 128 checkout. Lewis then proceeded to force the set into a fifth and deciding leg, courtesy of a brilliant 109 finish.
Nevertheless, this proved to be the end of his resistance, as MvG eased to victory in style, thanks to a blistering 160 checkout. Van Gerwen was in unrelenting mood, but Jamie Lewis should be extremely proud of how he’s acquitted himself this week.
Tomorrow, former UK Open winner Robert Thornton will take on the giant-killing Mensur Suljovic in Friday’s first semi-final, whilst red-hot favourite Michael van Gerwen will battle Mark Webster for a place in Saturday’s final. In one of the most open tournaments in years; anything could happen!
World Grand Prix Quarter-Final Results:
Robert Thornton 3-2 Ian White
Mensur Suljovic 3-1 Vincent van der Voort
Mark Webster 3-2 Jelle Klaasen
Michael van Gerwen 3-0 Jamie Lewis
Robert Thornton v Mensur Suljovic
Mark Webster v Michael van Gerwen