Defending champion Michael van Gerwen edged out Rob Cross in a thrilling quarter-final tussle at the Grand Slam of Darts, to set up a semi-final showdown against his old rival Phil Taylor, who rolled back the years to dismantle Daryl Gurney on another dramatic night at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall.
Van Gerwen was pushed all the way as he continued his bid for a third consecutive Grand Slam title with a 16-13 victory over Rob Cross. ‘Voltage’ averaged 102.54, landed ten 180’s and converted 53% of his attempts at double, but it wasn’t enough to overcome MvG, who averaged 104.26, posted 11 180’s and boasted a 64% checkout conversion rate.
The match got off to a blistering start, as Van Gerwen kicked off with six perfect darts. However, the Dutchman missed two darts at double and Cross pounced; firing in brilliant 127 and 112 finishes to secure an early 2-0 lead.
‘The Green Machine’ responded with a 12-darter to halve the deficit, squared up the contest via D4, before landing his third maximum en route to an 11-darter to move 3-2 ahead at the interval. Cross stopped the rot with a tidy 66 finish, but the next four legs all went with throw, with Van Gerwen registering fine 12 and 13 darters with the darts.
The world number one regained the initiative with a classy 98 finish for yet another 12-darter, but Cross was unflappable; levelling up proceedings at six apiece after the pair had traded maximums. Van Gerwen held throw once again by virtue of an effortless 102 outshot, but ‘Voltage’ remained defiant and crashed in a 14-darter to make it 7-7.
The Hastings ace then conjured up a stunning 131 finish to break throw, which he followed up with a 14-dart hold to establish a 9-7 cushion. The next two legs were shared, before Van Gerwen pounced. He cut the gap to 10-9 with a tidy 13-darter, before producing a nerveless 72 finish via tops to head into the interval locked at ten apiece.
The game then essentially became a best of eleven contest, which is when the irrepressible Van Gerwen came into his own. After the pair exchanged holds of throw, Cross fired in a stunning 171 to leave 94 after just nine darts. Nevertheless, he wasn’t afforded an opportunity to break, as Van Gerwen took out a brilliant 122 on the bull.
The Dutchman then recorded his second consecutive ton-plus checkout to move 13-11 ahead, before pegging D4 to open up a three-leg cushion. Cross stopped the rot to reduce the arrears to 14-12, but Van Gerwen reasserted his dominance by following up back-to-back maximums with a 42 checkout to move to within a leg of victory.
Cross continued to battle valiantly and held his nerve to take out 72 and preserve his slender hopes, and the former electrician fired in his tenth 180 to leave 47 after 9 darts in an attempt to continue the comeback. However, ‘Voltage’ wired two darts at D16, which allowed MvG to return and take out 110 to seal his semi-final spot.
Elsewhere, Phil Taylor produced a masterful performance to reel off 12 consecutive legs and thrash World Grand Prix champion Daryl Gurney 16-4 to storm into the semi-finals. ‘The Power’ was in imperious form; averaging 103.97, landing seven maximums, converting 67% of his attempts at double and dispatching four ton-plus checkouts.
Gurney drew first blood with a clinical 104 kill, before Taylor stole an early match. He took out 68 to draw level, capitalised on three missed doubles from ‘Super-Chin’ to secure the lead on tops, before converting a fine 115 finish to establish a 3-1 cushion.
The Northern Irishman fired back with a 14-darter and kicked off the sixth leg with five perfect darts, but Taylor responded with back-to-back maximums to complete a 13-dart hold on D14. However, Gurney delivered a fine riposte; winning the next two legs in a total of 27 darts to restore parity at four apiece.
Although it may have seemed unfathomable at the time, this would be the last cause of celebration for the Northern Irishman, as Taylor ran riot. The six-time Grand Slam winner regained the lead with a 13-darter, before dispatching clinical 73, 126 and 64 checkouts to stretch his lead to 8-4.
The 57-year-old then crashed in a brace of maximums and converted a fine 81 kill for a 12-darter to lead 9-4, before following up a majestic visit of 177 with a 13-dart leg on tops to seal his sixth straight leg.
‘The Power’ was fired up and piled in a brilliant 132 finish (T20, T20, D6) to continue the procession, before kicking off the next leg with five perfect darts en route to a 14-dart hold. Gurney then spurned four darts at double as he attempted to stop the rot and his woes were compounded as Taylor sank D2 in his last dart in hand for a 13-4 advantage.
The 16-time world champion then piled in a stunning 137 checkout- his fourth ton-plus finish of the contest, to add to Gurney’s misery. Moments later, Taylor moved to within a leg of victory with a fine two-dart 84 combination for an 11-darter, before wrapping up a comprehensive 16-4 triumph with a 13-dart leg culminating on tops.
As a result, Taylor and Van Gerwen will meet for potentially the final time on Sunday afternoon, with ‘The Power’ having won six of their last eight meetings. Meanwhile, the other semi-final tie will see UK Open champion Peter Wright take on two-time world champion Gary Anderson in a battle of the Scots.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Saturday November 18 (8pm)
Phil Taylor 16-4 Daryl Gurney
Michael van Gerwen 16-13 Rob Cross
Sunday November 19 (1pm)
Gary Anderson v Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen v Phil Taylor