Michael van Gerwen produced arguably the best performance in Grand Slam of Darts history as he completed a 16-4 demolition of Kim Huybrechts in the Grand Slam quarter-finals in Wolverhampton.
Van Gerwen averaged 111.05, hitting 12 180’s and boasting a checkout ratio of 61.5%. It was a phenomenal display by the World Number 1, who is desperate to win his maiden Grand-Slam title tomorrow.
The ‘Green Machine’ began in scintillating style, producing a spectacular 135 finish to win the opening leg. He then broke Huybrechts’ throw with a 112 finish, before delivering back-to-back maximums for an 11-darter and a 3-0 lead.
However, Huybrechts managed to open his account with a tremendous 141 checkout, although his joy was short-lived, as van Gerwen fired in 84 for an 11-darter, as he raced into a 4-1 lead with an astounding 122 average.
Huybrechts hit D4 to stay in touch at 4-2, but the World Number 1 was in merciless mood, winning four successive legs to storm into the second interval with a commanding 8-2 advantage. This included a ten-dart leg and the Belgian cut a desolate figure.
Van Gerwen’s quarter-final defeat to Huybrechts in last year’s Grand Slam really hurt the Dutchman and he was intently focused on enacting the most painful revenge possible. MvG hit a 13-darter to move 9-2 up, before he threatened a magical 9-darter in the following leg.
However, his eighth dart at T19 was placed agonisingly above the treble wire. He then returned to post a 12-darter, backing this up in the next leg with a clinical 74 checkout for an 11-2 lead.
Huybrechts missed the bullseye for a 121 checkout and he was ruthlessly punished, as MvG took out 92, culminating in two D18s. MvG’s remarkable performance continued in the fifteenth leg, as he produced a 127 finish for a 12-darter, to move just three legs away from a comprehensive victory.
Huybrechts hit D18 to win just his third leg after the break, but van Gerwen responded emphatically, hitting D20 for a 13-darter. However, Kim won his fourth leg after MvG bizarrely busted his attempt at 25 by hitting T9.
This did not perturb the rampant Dutchman in the slightest. He hit another 13-darter courtesy of D8, before clinching a remarkable victory by taking out 82 for a 12-dart leg. Kim Huybrechts is a top-class player, but he was made to look distinctly mediocre by the astonishing talent that is van Gerwen.
Elsewhere, Michael Smith came of age in Wolverhampton, as he beat Adrian Lewis 16-11 to reach his first ever TV major semi-final, where he will face van Gerwen tomorrow afternoon.
Lewis outscored Smith for long periods of the contest, but Jackpot endured a nightmare evening on the doubles, which ‘Bully-Boy’ punished ruthlessly.
Lewis took out 114 in the opening leg and narrowly missed D14 for a 121 finish and a 2-0 lead, but Smith rallied impressively and led 3-2 at the first interval.
Lewis was scoring beautifully but continued to squander double opportunities; Smith raced into a 7-2 advantage thanks to finishes of 84, 84 and 79. Nevertheless, Jackpot stopped the rot in the tenth leg, converting a classy 121 checkout on D14.
This gave the Two-Time World Champion a sense of renewed vigour after the break, as Lewis hit 56 to hold throw, before producing a vital 88 checkout on the bullseye to reduce the deficit to just two legs.
Yet Lewis failed to cement his superiority, as he missed three clear darts to claim a fourth straight-leg, allowing Smith to hit D10 and stop the rot. The St Helen’s ace hit the same target moments later, as he re-established his four-leg cushion.
Despite this, in such a topsy-turvy contest, nobody appeared to dominate for any substantial length of time. Lewis took out 86 for 9-6, before producing successive legs of sheer quality. He hit a 10-darter in leg sixteen, before reducing the arrears to 9-8 with an exquisite 11-darter.
Lewis was throwing superbly and had all the momentum, but Smith showed tremendous maturity, taking out 126 on the bull to keep Lewis at bay. Adrian had the opportunity to draw within one leg again, but missed four critical darts at double and Smith exploited this profligacy.
Suddenly Michael Smith was full of confidence, as he hit back-to-back maximums for an 11-darter and he established a 12-8 lead heading into the fourth intermission. More missed doubles cost Lewis in leg twenty-one, before Smith moved to within just two legs of a last-four spot as he held his nerve on D10.
Nevertheless, the former World-Youth Champion had never been in this position before and nerves began to emerge, as he missed an astonishing 8 darts at double for a 15-8 lead.
Lewis hit D10 to regain some hope, but Smith bounced back superbly, hitting a 180 and 140 back-to-back, to move within the solitary leg of an unprecedented achievement in his career.
Smith missed the bull for a 130 finish which would have sealed victory, allowing Lewis to preserve his slender hopes of mounting a comeback. He then hit another maximum to claw another leg back, and at 15-11, Smith was beginning to look slightly concerned.
However, Lewis’s finishing had been his achilles heel throughout the contest, and this vulnerability re-emerged when he had a wonderful opportunity for a third consecutive leg. He missed 5 darts at double, enabling Smith to complete the triumph on his favoured D10.
Michael showed immense maturity in his post-match interview, openly admitting that his attitude in last year’s tournament was unacceptable. He has been working extremely hard over the last 12 months and the development in his game is clearly noticeable. However, he will have to perform at his very very best tomorrow afternoon.
Saturday November 14 (7pm-10pm)
Michael Smith 16-11 Adrian Lewis
Michael van Gerwen 16-4 Kim Huybrechts
Sunday November 15
Afternoon Session (1pm-4pm)
Michael van Gerwen v Michael Smith
Raymond van Barneveld v Phil Taylor