Gerwyn Price edged out Simon Whitlock in an emotionally-charged Grand Slam quarter-final on a dramatic night of action in Wolverhampton.
‘The Iceman’ spurned four match darts to dump out Whitlock in the group-stages earlier this week, but the roles were reversed on Friday night at the Aldersley Leisure Village. Price was never ahead until he won the 31st and deciding leg, after ‘The Wizard’ had squandered multiple match darts in a gripping showdown.
Whitlock landed a brace of magnificent 170 finishes to defeat Price 5-4 in the group-stages, which saw him progress to the knockout stages of the Grand Slam for the first time since 2009. However, he missed five darts at a double across the final three legs which saw the Welshman snatch a famous victory.
The Australian kicked off proceedings with a majestic 146 checkout, which set the tone for the ensuing drama. Whitlock capitalised on some errant doubling from Price to establish a 9-5 advantage, but the 2017 UK Open finalist responded by winning five of the next six legs to restore parity at ten apiece.
Whitlock edged back in front with a comfortable hold on tops, before firing in an 11-darter to regain control, but Price recorded legs of 13 and 14 darts to level up proceedings once again. However, the Welshman squandered four darts to break in a dramatic 25th leg and it seemed destined to prove pivotal.
Whitlock landed another sublime 11-darter to edge back in front at 14-13, before closing out a 13-dart break on tops to move to within a leg of victory. Nevertheless, the recent European Championship finalist then spurned two darts at D20 and D16 in each of the next two legs which enabled Price to force a decider.
The Australian had the advantage of throw and was first to a finish, but Price almost sealed victory in style; missing the bull for a show-stopping 164. This afforded Whitlock one final opportunity, but he missed D18 for a 73 finish, and his fifth match dart proved to be the last, as Price returned to peg D12 to complete a stunning comeback.
‘The Iceman’ averaged 95.86, crashed in six maximums and converted 39% of his attempts at double to seal a spot in his maiden Grand Slam semi-final, as Whitlock was denied despite averaging 95.03, landing TWELVE maximums and boasting a 38% checkout success rate.
Price is renowned for being one of the most passionate stars on the oche and he certainly lived up to that reputation in Wolverhampton, as he was instructed by referee Russ Bray to tone down his celebrations at the fourth interval, with the scores locked at 10-10.
There was also controversy and ambiguity surrounding the 17th leg of the contest. Price was sat on tops; poised to reduce the arrears to 9-8, but as he approached the oche he appeared distracted by something and turned round to exchange words with Whitlock, before returning to pin the double.
Friday’s last eight tussle was reminiscent of the infamous Grand Slam clash between Whitlock and Ted Hankey in 2013, when ‘The Wizard’ relinquished a 6-1 advantage after wilting in the face of Hankey’s antics.
However, Price held his nerve superbly to book a semi-final showdown against Mensur Suljovic, who earlier saw off nine-dart hero Dimitri Van den Bergh. ‘The Gentle’ averaged 98.58, posted seven maximums and converted 53% of his attempts at double- taking out finishes of 101 and 167 to clinch a convincing 16-9 win.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
2018 bwin Grand Slam of Darts
Friday November 16
Mensur Suljovic 16-9 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Gerwyn Price 16-15 Simon Whitlock
Saturday November 17 (1900 GMT)
Michael Unterbuchner v Gary Anderson
Jonny Clayton v Michael van Gerwen