Glen Durrant sensationally knocked world number one Michael van Gerwen out of the Betfred World Matchplay on a thrilling Tuesday evening at the Winter Gardens, before hailing it as one of the best nights of his life.
In a battle between the two reigning world champions, Durrant edged a pulsating 58-minute contest, surviving a late onslaught from ‘The Green Machine’ to close out a 13-11 victory with a 99.33 average, eight maximums and a 43% checkout success rate.
Van Gerwen came into the contest having failed to register a ton-plus average in any of his last nine competitive matches and he made a sluggish start, averaging just 91 as Durrant secured an early break to lead 3-2 at the first interval.
The three-time Lakeside champion fired in seven perfect darts in leg eight to establish a 5-3 cushion, before extending his lead to 8-5 after more key misses from Van Gerwen. Nevertheless, the Dutchman responded magnificently.
The World No 1 crashed in back-to-back maximums and closed out an 11-darter to reduce the arrears and this revival saw him surge into a 9-8 lead. However, Durrant remained undeterred and twice held throw under considerable pressure, converting a 112 kill to force a tie-break.
‘Duzza’ broke throw after MvG spurned four darts at double but the former BDO man was unable to serve it out, as Van Gerwen responded with a 13-darter to prolong the drama. However, Durrant produced a clinical 84 finish to complete another break in leg 23, before sinking tops to secure the biggest win of his PDC career.
“This night will live with me forever, I’ve never experienced a crowd getting behind me like that,” said Durrant, who will face James Wade in the quarter-finals.
“At times I forgot I was playing Michael van Gerwen, and when I realised I was in with a chance of winning the emotions were incredible. I went for a walk on the beach earlier today and I ended up getting sunburn, and that along with the incredible heat up there made it even harder for me.
“I now need to go away, relax and contemplate what I’ve done and look ahead to the rest of the tournament, but whatever happens from now on in my career this moment will never be taken away from me.”
Defending champion Gary Anderson joined Van Gerwen in exiting the tournament, after ‘The Flying Scotsman’ was beaten 11-8 by Mervyn King, who is bidding to reach a second World Matchplay semi-final – a decade on from his first.
Anderson kicked off proceedings with a majestic 130 checkout, but King responded by reeling off five consecutive legs, featuring finishes of 76, 98 and 122. The Scot won six of the next seven legs to complete the turnaround and lead 7-6, but King stopped the rot with a classy 136 kill.
With the scores locked at eight apiece, King claimed a crucial break of throw after Anderson wasted a multitude of darts at double and this saw the 53-year-old win three consecutive legs to complete the victory, sealing the deal with a fabulous 12-darter.
King will take on World Championship finalist Michael Smith for a place in the last four, as ‘Bully Boy’ again recovered from a three-leg deficit to defeat Max Hopp and reach his first ever World Matchplay quarter-final.
The German punished a profligate start from Smith to lead 4-1, but the St Helen’s ace surged 6-4 ahead after completing a clean sweep in the second session. Hopp stopped the rot and later fired in an 11-darter to level at 7-7, but as the match went into overtime, Smith’s experience proved decisive.
Finally, James Wade will feature in his 11th World Matchplay quarter-final against man-of-the-moment Durrant after coming through another marathon tie-break to defeat last year’s finalist Mensur Suljovic 13-11.
Wade conjured up a stunning 134 checkout to move 3-2 ahead, but Suljovic began to dictate the pace of proceedings and ‘The Gentle’ established a commanding 8-5 cushion with a double-break of throw.
‘The Machine’ won three straight legs and levelled with a clinical 141 outshot, but Suljovic appeared poised to prevail after breaking in leg 21 to move a leg away from victory. Despite this, the Austrian was unable to serve it out and Wade kept his cool to win three consecutive legs and advance to the last eight.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC