Taylor and Van Gerwen advance to final
Updated: Monday, 31 Dec 2012 00:12
Michael van Gerwen will face 15-time champion Phil Taylor in the Ladbrokes World Championship final after going agonisingly close to historic back-to-back nine-dart finishes in his semi-final win over James Wade.
Van Gerwen was leading three sets to one but trailing 2-0 in the fifth set when he produced a perfect leg, matching the achievement of Dean Winstanley earlier in the tournament.
The Dutchman hit a maximum 180, 177 and then finished 144 on double 12 to send the Alexandra Palace crowd wild.
And the fans were still on their feet moments later when the speedy right-hander hit two more maximums to start the next leg and narrowly missed double 12 for a checkout on 141.
Remarkably, Van Gerwen did not even win the set, with Englishman Wade holding his nerve to win the fifth leg and reduce his deficit.
The left-hander won the next set as well to make it 3-3, but Van Gerwen regained his composure to open up a 5-3 lead and looked set to seal the win when he needed 52 to win the ninth set.
However, he hit single five instead of 12 and ended up missing his only dart at double 20, allowing Wade in to make it 5-4.
Wade was unable to take further advantage though, Van Gerwen racing through the next set 3-0 to complete a hard-fought 6-4 victory and set up a final with Taylor, who also beat Raymond van Barneveld 6-4 after letting slip a four-set lead.
"It was unbelievable," Van Gerwen said. "It was a very difficult game for me because Wade is a very slow player and I had not beaten him on TV, but it was a nice one to win."
Asked about attempting to hit his second nine-dart finish, Van Gerwen added on Sky Sports 1: "I was very concentrated, thinking 'Just carry on' because I was 2-1 down in the set and I still lost it, but it's not about nine-dart finishes, it's about winning games.
"It's nice to be in the final of the World Championships."
Taylor emerged victorious after an epic tungsten tussle against fellow darts goliath Raymond van Barneveld.
The second semi-final appeared to be turning into a damp squib as the Stoke legend cruised to a 5-1 lead.
'The Power' took the first two sets for the loss of just one leg, and although Van Barneveld won the third set 3-0, Taylor bounced back and finishes of 141 and 111 put him 3-1 ahead.
That soon became 5-1 but Taylor then missed two darts at double 20 to win the contest 6-1 and that gave Van Barneveld a route back into the match.
The Dutchman responded by taking the next three sets to bring the scores back to 5-4 as Taylor's aim deserted him.
At one point, Taylor appeared to be complaining about being distracted by a draught, but a 180 in the 10th set helped him take a 2-1 lead and settle any nerves.
And needing 68 to finish in the fourth leg, and wrap up the victory, Taylor took advantage of a missed dart by Van Barneveld to end the contest with a double 16.