Mensur Suljovic stormed into the semi-finals of the European Championship with a stunning 10-3 victory over 16-time world champion Phil Taylor in Hasselt, Belgium, on Sunday afternoon, as Michael van Gerwen, Peter Wright and James Wade also reached the last four.
Nevertheless, the story of the afternoon was Suljovic’s masterful performance as he demolished ‘The Power’ with a sublime display. ‘The Gentle’ averaged 105.55 and converted 52% of his doubles to complete an emphatic triumph, despite Taylor averaging a very impressive 104.36.
The opening three legs of the contest all went with throw, but Suljovic secured a precious break of throw in the fourth leg. The pair traded maximums, but the Austrian pinned D18 for a magnificent 11-darter to establish a two-leg cushion.
The fifth leg was a nervous affair. Suljovic missed tops for a 111 finish but Taylor failed to convert the same target for a 109 checkout, enabling the darts-control ace to hit D10 and lead 4-1 at the first interval.
Suljovic continued this momentum after the intermission, converting a 76 finish on his beloved D14 for a double-break of throw, as his average exceeded 107. The 44-year-old then won his fifth consecutive leg with a classy 12-darter culminating on D16, before Taylor stopped the rot by pinning the very same target.
However, Mensur remained completely unperturbed. He kicked off the ninth leg with a 170 and went for the bull again in his second visit, only for his sequence of five perfect darts to end. However, he pinned D4 to extend his lead, before breaking Taylor for a third time moments later, hitting D10 to complete a 14-darter and lead 8-2.
One of the major strengths of Suljovic’s game is his clinical finishing and that was evidenced in the eleventh leg. Taylor left a double as he attempted to break back, but Suljovic again converted 76 in two-darts to move within a leg of a monumental victory.
Taylor secured a mere consolation by following up his fourth maximum with a 65 kill, but Suljovic wasn’t to be denied. The Austrian registered his third maximum and after ‘The Power’ wired the bullseye for a heroic 170 outshot, Mensur returned to pin tops and secure his first ever victory over the 16-time world champion.
Elsewhere, world number one Michael van Gerwen remains on course to seal his third consecutive European Championship crown after recording a mightily impressive 10-3 victory over his arch-rival Jelle Klaasen. Van Gerwen averaged 106.79 and boasted an incredible first nine-dart average of 120.15.
Both players fired in four maximums, but ‘The Green Machine’ was ultimately superior in the decisive moments of the contest. Klaasen converted just three of his sixteen attempts at double, a miserly ratio of 18.8%, as Van Gerwen won nine of the last ten legs to secure a spot in the last four.
James Wade survived a valiant comeback from James Wilson to prevail in a topsy-turvy contest. Wilson led 4-2, but Wade reeled off five consecutive legs to seize command, taking out finishes of 106 and 161 in the ninth and tenth legs respectively. Despite this, Wilson continued to battle and levelled with finishes of 16, 101 and 72.
Nevertheless, in the decisive juncture of the contest, The Jammie Dodger’s scoring power momentarily deserted him and Wade took full advantage, edging back ahead with a maximum, before converting finishes of 81 and 141 to secure a place in his first ranking semi-final since July 2015.
Third seed Peter Wright recovered from 2-0 down to east past Australian ace Kyle Anderson in the final match of Sunday’s afternoon session. Snakebite was averaging just 76 after the opening two legs, but he won ten of the remaining thirteen legs to seal victory with an 95.59 average to set up a semi-final showdown with Mensur Suljovic.
Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Unibet European Championship
Sunday October 30 (1.45pm-6pm local time, 12.45pm-5pm UK time)
James Wilson 7-10 James Wade
Michael van Gerwen 10-3 Jelle Klaasen
Mensur Suljovic 10-3 Phil Taylor
Kyle Anderson 5-10 Peter Wright
Best of 19 legs
Evening Session (8pm-12am local time, 7pm-11pm UK time)
Michael van Gerwen v James Wade
Mensur Suljovic v Peter Wright
Best of 21 legs
Best of 21 legs