The Australian Simon Whitlock came from behind to book his place in the PDC World Championship final with a thrilling 6-5 win over Raymond van Barneveld at Alexandra Palace in London last night.
Whitlock will contest his first PDC final against Phil Taylor, who brushed aside Mark Webster 6-0. The Power was in imperious form as he cantered on in his pursuit of a 15th world title. His Welsh opponent, who had enjoyed a superb run to the last four, simply failed to get his game going.
By contrast, the other semi-final was a nerve-jangling encounter. Whitlock looked odds on to miss out on a shot at the title when he trailed Barneveld 4-2, but the Wizard, as he is known, with his long hair and long beard, pushed a tiring Van Barneveld all the way and finished the stronger in a deciding final set.
The unseeded Whitlock, a 40-year-old from Brisbane, admitted that he had suffered an attack nerves as he threw for the match. "I couldn't believe it went in," he said. "I was so nervous. I just flung it. Going for that last double, that's the hardest one to hit – the one to win the match.
"I never gave up. I sensed Raymond was getting tired and I knew I had to try and hang in there and sneak a few legs. If I could hang in and keep pushing I thought I would get a chance and I got that chance."
Van Barneveld had no regrets about his own form in the match. "I was very comfortable backstage at 2-4. Funnily enough it was my best game ever. I played so well and lost. I played not right and hardly dropped a set. Now I play right and I lost," the Dutchman said.
On the opening day of the BDO World Professional Darts tournament at the Lakeside, in Frimley Green, Tony O'Shea sealed a 3-2 first-round victory over Robbie Green . The top seed, nicknamed Silverback, raced into a 2-0 lead, checking out with a 160 to clinch the second set but an emphatic response from Green saw the man known as Kong take the third set before levelling in the fourth. O'Shea kept his composure in the fifth, however, using his finishing skills to seal the match.
Ted Hankey, the defending champion who is ranked fifth for the event, had an easier ride in his 3-0 first-round win over an outclassed Gary Robson.