Adrian Lewis produced a sublime display as he dumped 16-Time World Champion Phil Taylor out of the European Championships, courtesy of an enthralling-last leg decider in Hasselt.
Taylor started the match poorly, as Lewis established a 3-0 lead, with Phil’s average languishing in the mid 80’s. Despite this, the 16-time World Champion showed his class in leg four; hitting back-to-back maximums for an 11-darter.
Still, Taylor missed one dart at D20 to break back, enabling Lewis to enter the first interval with a healthy 4-1 lead.
Taylor responded superbly after the break, holding throw in routine fashion and subsequently breaking Lewis’s throw with an 85 finish. Nevertheless, he then squandered five darts at D4 and D2, allowing Lewis to break back instantly and regain his two-leg cushion.
Taylor delivered an instant riposte with an 88 finish on the bullseye, but his double trouble continued in the following leg, and once again he failed to cement the break of throw. Lewis led 6-4 at the break, with Taylor’s checkout rate a meagre 25%.
The next four legs went with throw, with Lewis leading 8-6, but after Taylor missed the bull for an 86 finish, the Two-Time World Champion took out 58 with his final dart to move one leg away from victory.
However, Lewis suddenly switched off and Taylor capitalised as only ‘The Power’ can, winning three legs without reply to force a nineteenth and deciding leg.
Lewis had the advantage of throw and left D20 after just 12 darts, but a timely 171 from Taylor also left D20. Adrian held his nerve, converting D20 with his third and final dart to prevail in the battle of the Potteries.
Taylor hit just 32% on the doubles but still averaged 106, which just demonstrates how consistently he scored throughout. Irrespective of this, Lewis deserves great credit for his level of composure, particularly in regards to his last-dart doubling.
Lewis will face World Champion Gary Anderson in the semi-finals this evening, after Anderson produced a late surge to defeat Jelle Klaasen 10-6. Incredibly, this will be Anderson’s first semi-final appearance at the European Championships.
The Flying Scotsman didn’t live up to his nickname in the early stages, as ‘The Cobra’ raced into a 2-0 advantage, but Anderson won two of the next three legs to go into the interval just 3-2 behind.
The 44-year-old continued from where he left off after the break, taking out 120 to move 4-3 ahead. The next two legs were shared, before the Scot won the decisive tenth leg.
Klaasen, who was clinical on the doubles against both Raymond van Barneveld and James Wade, missed two darts at D20 for a 97 finish; Anderson capitalised superbly, taking out 62 in two darts to establish a 6-4 lead.
Anderson had the momentum and refused to relinquish control. He produced a classy 98 checkout for an 8-5 advantage, before hitting 3 180’s in the final three legs to seal a 10-6 victory.
Anderson appeared to be playing within himself, yet still averaged 103 and hit 58% on the doubles. Klaasen scored well, particularly early on, although he wasn’t able to produce the necessary shots in the critical moments.
However, Klaasen shouldn’t be disheartened. He is certainly a player on the up; he’s now reached two successive major quarter-finals and he’s closing in on a top 16 spot. He’ll take immense encouragement from his performances this weekend.
Elsewhere, World Number 1 Michael van Gerwen produced a stunning performance as he dispatched Dave Chisnall 10-4 to set up a semi-final meeting with his old adversary, Wright.
Chisnall started superbly, holding throw with a 14-darter, but van Gerwen’s response was emphatic, as he reeled off four successive legs to lead 4-1 at the break, thanks to a clinical 76 finish in the fifth leg.
Chizzy produced a 76 checkout of his own to break throw in the sixth leg, but he then squandered a wonderful chance to reduce the deficit to the solitary leg, missing 5 darts at double. This enabled van Gerwen to take a 5-2 lead, which he soon extended with an 85 finish.
The St Helen’s star kept his slender hopes of victory alive with an 82 finish, but the contest was essentially decided in the tenth leg. Chisnall hit a maximum and a 121 to leave D10, but van Gerwen produced a breath-taking 132 checkout (Bull, Bull, D16) to establish a commanding 7-3 advantage.
Chisnall won the first leg after the interval, but van Gerwen was in cruise control, and won three consecutive legs to seal a 10-4 victory, culminating with a delightful 10-darter.
Chisnall didn’t play poorly, but he did miss a few key opportunities at double, whereas van Gerwen was at his clinical best. He combined relentless scoring with nerveless finishing; a fearsome combination.
Finally, Peter Wright kept alive his hopes of winning a maiden PDC major, as he thrashed compatriot John Henderson 10-4 to reach his fifth TV major semi-final.
Wright completely monopolised the scoring stakes in the opening stages, but uncharacteristic fragility on the doubles from Snakebite allowed Henderson to stay in touch. Wright led 4-2 but was averaging 17 points more than ‘Big John’.
However, as Wright’s doubling improved, Henderson was simply unable to live with the World Number Four. Henderson’s doubling was far from convincing, as Snakebite hit 9 maximums en route to winning six of the remaining eight legs to clinch a comprehensive victory.