Home Sport Four major champs target world glory

Four major champs target world glory

by admin

Peter Wright takes on Gerwyn Price in the opening semi-final, before Michael van Gerwen and Nathan Aspinall lock horns

By Josh Gorton

Last Updated: 29/12/19 11:28pm

Michael van Gerwen has rarely been tested throughout this year's World Championship Michael van Gerwen has rarely been tested throughout this year's World Championship

Michael van Gerwen has rarely been tested throughout this year’s World Championship

Michael van Gerwen remains on course to secure a fourth World Darts Championship crown on New Year’s Day, although there are three other major champions in a fascinating semi-final line-up.

‘The Green Machine’ is bidding to retain the Sid Waddell Trophy for the first time in his career and he’s dropped just three sets en route to the semi-finals.

Despite this, the world No 1 has not been at his blistering best at Alexandra Palace, failing to register ton-plus averages in three of his four matches.

Van Gerwen takes on UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall in Monday’s second semi-final, while former finalist Peter Wright plays third seed Gerwyn Price in a repeat of last month’s Grand Slam final.

World Darts Championship: Monday’s Semi-Final Order of Play

Evening Peter Wright vs Gerwyn Price
Michael van Gerwen vs Nathan Aspinall
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Van Gerwen vs Price was touted as the dream final prior to a dart being thrown, with the Welshman securing his first career victory over the irrepressible Dutchman en route to Grand Slam glory.

Nevertheless, that’s far from being a formality. Aspinall is relishing his showdown against Van Gerwen – insisting he’s got the hunger and ability to replicate MVG’s success.

Wright meanwhile has played more sets than any of his fellow semi-finalists but has demonstrated his fighting qualities in abundance – Snakebite is bidding to reach a second world final and avenge his 2014 defeat to Van Gerwen.

We get the lowdown from the players and Sky Sports experts, and track how the final four have made their way through as the tournament reaches the business end…

Peter Wright (7) vs Gerwyn Price (3)

2:14
Peter Wright felt he had to be at his best to beat Luke Humphries and secure his place in the semi-finals of the World Darts Championship.

Peter Wright felt he had to be at his best to beat Luke Humphries and secure his place in the semi-finals of the World Darts Championship.

Wright and Price collide in a repeat of last month’s Grand Slam final, where Price produced a peerless display to retain the Eric Bristow Trophy.

Both players survived early scares in the tournament but underlined their credentials with impressive quarter-final wins against Luke Humphries and Glen Durrant respectively.

Wright has come through four gruelling tussles to reach his third Ally Pally semi-final and the Scot has shown glimpses of the form that catapulted him to three titles in the space of five days back in July.

2:02
Gerwyn Price says his 5-1 win was probably flattering after he beat Glen Durrant in the quarter-final of the World Championship.

Gerwyn Price says his 5-1 win was probably flattering after he beat Glen Durrant in the quarter-final of the World Championship.

He scraped past Asian Tour qualifiers Noel Malicdem and Seigo Asada before defying an inspired comeback from Jeffrey de Zwaan to reach the last eight, where he averaged 105.86 to defeat Humphries – his highest average in World Championship history.

Price was unconvincing against William O’Connor and Simon Whitlock, but he turned on the style against John Henderson and was ruthless against Durrant to end the Teessider’s 18-match winning World Championship run.

Wright’s route to the semi-finals…

3-2 win vs Noel Malicdem (R2)
4-2 win vs Seigo Asada (R3)
4-3 win vs Jeffrey de Zwaan (R4)
5-3 win vs Luke Humphries (QF)

Price’s route to the semi-finals…

3-2 win vs William O’Connor (R2)
4-0 win vs John Henderson (R3)
4-2 win vs Simon Whitlock (R4)
5-1 win vs Glen Durrant (QF)

Expert’s Verdict – Mark Webster

“It’s a fascinating semi-final. Peter Wright has really upped it after that scare in the first round. Gerwyn Price has dipped in and out of form. That was a really good display from Gerwyn against Glen Durrant. We saw what Gezzy can do to Peter Wright at the Grand Slam and if he gets ahead, we will see how dominant he can be.

“They’ve both done impressive things, they’ve survived a few scares. They’ve had similar tournaments – Peter Wright’s average is slightly higher but I am going to side with Gerwyn Price, just for the sole reason how solid he was against Peter at the Grand Slam and he was really good against Glen Durrant.

“He never gave Glen a leg off. Glen really had to work for every leg he won. We saw Glen averaging 104 with four ton-plus finishes and he was two sets down. Everyone has tipped a Michael van Gerwen vs Gerwyn Price final. We’re not quite there yet and Nathan Aspinall and Peter Wright will have their say in that.”

Michael van Gerwen (1) vs Nathan Aspinall (12)

2:17
Michael van Gerwen says he played well in patches after a slow start following his 5-2 victory over Darius Labanauskas in the World Championship quarter-final but believes he still has more to give.

Michael van Gerwen says he played well in patches after a slow start following his 5-2 victory over Darius Labanauskas in the World Championship quarter-final but believes he still has more to give.

The defending champion has enjoyed remarkably serene progress to the last four. Since dropping the opening set against Jelle Klaasen, the Dutchman has won 16 of the next 18, sweeping aside Klaasen, Ricky Evans, Stephen Bunting and Darius Labanauskas in the process.

Van Gerwen, winner at Alexandra Palace in 2014, 2017 and 2019, has cut a frustrated figure at times during this campaign, although he’s a red-hot favourite to clinch a fourth world crown on New Year’s Day.

2:05
Nathan Aspinall blames nerves for his display but was happy to get through against Dimitri Van den Bergh to reach the semi-finals.

Nathan Aspinall blames nerves for his display but was happy to get through against Dimitri Van den Bergh to reach the semi-finals.

Aspinall is appearing in his second consecutive World Championship semi-final after following up wins over Danny Baggish, Krzysztof Ratajski and Gary Anderson by seeing off Dimitri Van den Bergh.

The UK Open champion was a shock semi-finalist 12 months ago, although he was firmly regarded as challenger on this occasion, which is testament to his remarkable rise.

The pair’s previous four meetings have been shared although Aspinall has won two of their three clashes in 2019. This will be their first clash in the televised arena, so who will claim the bragging rights?

Van Gerwen’s route to the semi-finals…

3-1 win vs Jelle Klaasen (R2)
4-0 win vs Ricky Evans (R3)
4-0 win vs Stephen Bunting (R4)
5-2 win vs Darius Labanauskas (QF)

Aspinall’s route to the semi-finals…

3-1 win vs Danny Baggish (R2)
4-3 win vs Krzysztof Ratajski (R3)
4-2 win vs Gary Anderson (R4)
5-3 win vs Dimitri Van den Bergh (QF)

Expert’s Verdict – Wayne Mardle

“Michael van Gerwen is quite rightfully the huge odds on favourite to reach the final again and win it, but he’s got to be careful with Aspinall. We saw on Sunday that Michael could get embroiled with anyone because he admitted he was lacking focus and concentration. Aspinall is very very good at just ploughing on.

“We saw that against Dimitri when things weren’t going his way. He turned that back in his favour. We know how good he is. When Michael Smith was throwing everything at him in the semi-final last year, he just stood there and took it, soaked it all up and just kept churning out his own good darts.

“Michael is going to have to play a lot better than he has consistently so far. If he goes asleep again he will get punished. I don’t think he will get beaten, but I really do believe Aspinall has got the darts to beat him. If he dozes off there could be an upset on the cards, but I just don’t think that he will let that happen.”

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Check out daily Darts news on skysports.com/darts, our app for mobile devices and our Twitter account @skysportsdarts. Coverage of the World Darts Championship continues on Sky Sports Darts throughout the tournament with Monday’s semi-finals getting underway at 7pm.

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