Defending champion Michael van Gerwen will meet 15-time Winter Gardens champion Phil Taylor in the final of the BetVictor World Matchplay on Sunday evening, after they comprehensively defeated Adrian Lewis and Gary Anderson on Saturday night in Blackpool.
Van Gerwen remains on course to retain his title after easing past 2013 finalist Adrian Lewis 17-9. Jackpot defeated MvG at this stage three years ago, but he was unable to replicate this feat against ‘The Green Machine’, who averaged 101.20 and hit an impressive 49% of his attempts at double.
The Dutchman made an electric start by racing into a 3-0 advantage, but Lewis restored parity with three straight legs of his own. Nevertheless, the world number one then enjoyed a mini-surge, firing in three maximums en route to winning five consecutive legs, to establish a commanding 8-3 cushion.
Lewis hit D8 and tops to reduce the deficit to 8-5, but Van Gerwen converted D9 and D16 to regain his five-leg advantage. The Stoke star remained in contention with a fabulous 130 finish, but the Dutchman restored his cushion by following up his fourth maximum with D10.
Lewis responded by pinning tops, but Van Gerwen clinically converted a 72 finish in two darts to move 12-7 ahead. The two-time world champion continued to battle however. He took out 84 in two darts to hold, before posting D10 to reduce the arrears to 12-9, after the pair had traded 180’s.
Jackpot had opportunities to close the gap further on the world number one, but missed doubles in the following two legs enabled MvG to move 14-9 ahead. Yet, the definitive moment came in the 24th leg. Lewis missed three darts at D20 and D10, and ‘Mighty Mike’ delivered a bruising 103 finish to move to within two legs of the final.
Van Gerwen never looked back from this moment onwards. He fired in a maximum en route to an 81 finish and 12-darter, before hitting his eighth maximum to complete a 13-darter, as he secured a place in his third successive Matchplay final.
After the game, MvG concluded:“I don’t think Adrian gave me a really good game. I think he put himself off by slowing a player like me down, and it didn’t work in his favour anyway. He has fantastic ability, but he must have been scared. Why would a player like him do other things like that? It is a sign of weakness.”
In Saturday’s second semi-final, Phil Taylor sealed his spot in another World Matchplay final, with an emphatic 17-8 win against world champion Gary Anderson. ‘The Power’ produced his best performance of the tournament thus far, averaging 101.27 and hitting 50% of his doubles to ease past the Scot, who is still yet to reach a Winter Gardens final.
The first four legs were shared, as Anderson converted a magnificent 140 finish to hold his throw. However, this prompted a typical ‘Power’ surge. After hitting tops to regain the lead, Taylor hit an 11-darter to double his advantage, before following up scores of 177 and 171 with D8, for a 5-2 lead.
The 55-year-old sealed a crucial double break of throw with a nerveless 98 checkout, despite another maximum from Anderson. Taylor then hit tops to win his fifth consecutive leg, and despite ‘The Flying Scotsman’ stopping the rot, Taylor won a further three straight legs to establish a commanding 10-3 advantage.
The Scot responded by finishing tops to complete a 68 kill, but the 16-time world champion won back-to-back legs once more to gain total control of the contest. Anderson fought valiantly however, and cut the gap to 12-6, pinning D6 and D5 in successive legs.
Gary’s resurgence was short-lived however. Taylor was in clinical mood, and moved to within three legs of victory with crucial finishes of 65 and 64. Anderson extended the tie by converting shots of 76 and 72, but Taylor remained unperturbed, and clinched victory with a fine 82 finish on tops, to complete a masterful 12-darter.
Taylor will be hoping to seal a record 16th Matchplay title tomorrow, and he was in bullish mood ahead of tomorrow’s final.”Gary didn’t play like he can. I put him under pressure, and that’s what I’ve got to do against Michael. Put him under pressure. Make him think. I will give him a game, trust me. Michael’s got a problem with me tomorrow.”
BetVictor World Matchplay
Saturday July 23
Michael van Gerwen 17-9 Adrian Lewis
Gary Anderson 8-17 Phil Taylor
Best of 33 legs
Sunday July 24 (7pm)
Michael van Gerwen v Phil Taylor
Best of 35 legs