The remaining semi-finalists in the PDC Darts World Championship were confirmed yesterday, as the big hitters of Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld duly took their places in the latter stages of the event. Both had to withstand strong challenges from talented darts players, but the combined experience they possess seemed to nudge them over the line, as their opposition began to feel the pressure of being centre stage in front of such large crowds at the Alexandra Palace.  

Sixteen-time world champion Taylor was first up against the Dutchman Vincent van der Voort. ‘The Power’ was expected to come through relatively comfortably against a man who has not been in the limelight of the game in recent years, and as he strolled into a two set lead early on, averaging over 107 in the first set, it looked likely that the match would quickly be completed. Van der Voort seemed to have other ideas as his average rocketed in the next few sets with a succession of 180s and an average of 110 in set 3, as he first reduced the arrears and then drew level at two sets apiece. His finishing had particularly improved with checkouts of 113 and 107 in set four, with double top being hit unerringly on several occasions. Into set five and the Dutchman continued his purple patch with two more 100+ finishes, as Taylor looked visibly worried and trailing 3-2.

Taylor is not renowned as the best darts player of all time for no reason though and he withstood the barrage to take the next three sets, as the tension began to take its toll on his opponent. His 5-3 victory sets up a titanic semi-final between two men who have won the world title no less than 21 times between them (across the various darts’ organisations), as Raymond van Barneveld held his nerve to defeat rising star, Stephen Bunting.

Van Barneveld had a real battle against Bunting before edging a tight match 5-4 to move into the semis. The game see-sawed both ways as the players sought the upper hand and indeed ‘Barney’ looked to be in trouble when 3-2 down, with the Merseyside man looking to be finding his top form. However, there was to be no repeat of his BDO world title victory this time in the PDC version, as van Barneveld came through to clinch the match.

There is no let up in the action as the semis will be played this evening, with Michael van Gerwen playing Gary Anderson and then Taylor against van Barneveld being second match on, in the best of 11 sets’ ties.
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