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

Sixteen-time world champion Taylor was first up againstthe Dutchman Vincent van der Voort. ‘The Power’ was expected to come throughrelatively comfortably against a man who has not been in the limelight of thegame 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 wouldquickly be completed. Van der Voort seemed to have other ideas as his averagerocketed in the next few sets with a succession of 180s and an average of 110in set 3, as he first reduced the arrears and then drew level at two setsapiece. His finishing had particularly improved with checkouts of 113 and 107in set four, with double top being hit unerringly on several occasions. Intoset 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 alltime for no reason though and he withstood the barrage to take the next threesets, as the tension began to take its toll on his opponent. His 5-3 victorysets up a titanic semi-final between two men who have won the world title noless than 21 times between them (across the various darts’ organisations), asRaymond van Barneveld held his nerve to defeat rising star, Stephen Bunting.

Van Barneveld had a real battle against Bunting beforeedging a tight match 5-4 to move into the semis. The game see-sawed both waysas the players sought the upper hand and indeed ‘Barney’ looked to be in troublewhen 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 inthe PDC version, as van Barneveld came through to clinch the match.

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