Gerwyn Price remains on course to set up a dream showdown against Michael van Gerwen in the World Championship final on New Year’s Day and the Welshman jokingly claimed that he would love to topple the world No 1 in this year’s showpiece and ‘rub it in his face’.
Price had never gone beyond the last 16 at Alexandra Palace prior to this year’s tournament, although the Welshman booked his spot in the semi-finals courtesy of an emphatic 5-1 success against Glen Durrant – ending Duzza’s remarkable 18-match winning run at World Championships.
It’s been a case of feast or famine for ‘The Iceman’ at this year’s tournament. He stuttered past William O’Connor in a nervy opener and also struggled in his fourth round win against Simon Whitlock, labelling the Australian’s slow pace of play as ‘pathetic’.
However, the Grand Slam champion averaged over 104 in dismantling John Henderson in the third round and his performance against Durrant was ruthless. The third seed averaged 99.69, crashed in eight maximums and converted 47% of his attempts at double in a clinical all-round display.
“I made him chase the match and I felt in control. Glen threw some good darts but he was a bit patchy at times and I think the way I was checking out disheartened him. I just controlled myself,” Price told the PDC’s Dan Dawson.
Price will now take on seventh seed Peter Wright for a place in Wednesday’s final, in a repeat of last month’s Grand Slam final. Price thrashed Wright on that occasion after posting a 107.86 average and he’s hoping for a repeat performance.
Wright saw off World Youth champion Luke Humphries in his quarter-final, averaging 105.86 – his highest average in World Championship history. Wright was averaging over 110 as he stormed into a 4-1 lead, only for ‘Cool Hand’ to reduce the arrears to 4-3 and threaten an unlikely fightback.
Wright kept his cool to prevail and in his post-match interview, the 48-year-old predicted that he would be up against Glen Durrant in the semi-finals, declaring that Durrant would beat Price 5-2. However, Price was undeterred by those comments and made a bold prediction of his own.
“Me and Peter have had loads of good games. I think earlier in my career he was always smashing me up but now the tides have turned and I think he’s more worried about me than I am about him.
“I know if I go out and score as well as I can it’s going to be tough for him to beat me and I’m confident I’m going to win this game. He’ll be lucky to get a set I think,” quipped the 34-year-old.
It’s been a stunning 12 months in the career of Price. He’s gone from strength-to-strength since scooping the Grand Slam title last year and he is poised to end the 2019 season ranked number two on the PDC Order of Merit, which is testament to his remarkable rise.
“When I first started I was beating people I thought I should beat and then when I was coming up against the seeded players then it’s mind over matter. When you start thinking about the game, that’s when you start losing.
“Over the last six years I’ve learnt to deal with those situations and I’m one of those top boys now and I know that as well. I’ve overtaken 99% of them and there’s one more to go!”
That man standing in Price’s way is a certain Michael van Gerwen, who is bidding to lift a fourth World Championship crown. The ex-Rugby star defeated MvG for the first time en route to defending his Grand Slam crown and it’s the final that many experts touted prior to a dart being thrown.
Van Gerwen would remain the red-hot favourite, having lost just one of their previous 21 meetings, although Price has been competitive whenever they’ve met this term – his last five defeats against ‘The Green Machine’ have been by two legs or fewer.
“I probably expected Michael to get there [the final] more than I did. I knew it was going to be tough for me because I haven’t had a very good past record here, just getting through the first round was my main aim.
“If I go out against Peter [Wright] it’s a disappointment for me because I want to get to the final. I want to play Michael, I really want to pick up this trophy and rub it in his face,” he added playfully.
However, Van Gerwen’s still got work to do if he’s to remain on course for another World Championship triumph. The world No 1 meets UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall in the semi-finals, with ‘The Asp’ appearing in the last four for the second year in succession.
The Stockport thrower defied a late fightback from Dimitri Van den Bergh in Sunday’s curtain-raiser to prevail 5-3 and Aspinall has further underlined his pedigree throughout the festivities at Ally Pally, having also defeated Krzysztof Ratajski and two-time world champion Gary Anderson.
Van Gerwen has dropped just three sets against the quartet of Jelle Klaasen, Ricky Evans, Stephen Bunting and Darius Labanauskas, although he’s only registered a ton-plus average against Bunting and by his exceptionally high standards, he has shown signs of susceptibility.
Despite this, ‘The Green Machine’ insists he will be fully focused on his clash against Aspinall on Monday evening, having incredibly revealed that he was ‘bored’ during his 5-2 victory over the history-making Lithuanian Labanauskas.
“I lost my concentration at times and I shouldn’t do that but I also had some good moments. I will put everything right for the next match. Nathan is having a great year and I think we can have a fantastic game but if I play to my top level I will have too much for him.”
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
William Hill World Championship
Sunday December 29
Nathan Aspinall 5-3 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Peter Wright 5-3 Luke Humphries
Michael van Gerwen 5-2 Darius Labanauskas
Gerwyn Price 5-1 Glen Durrant
Monday December 30 (1900 GMT)
Peter Wright v Gerwyn Price
Michael van Gerwen v Nathan Aspinall