LAST season’s beaten finalist Michael van Gerwen survived a wobble last night to reach the semi-finals of the PDC Ladbrokes World Darts Championship as he saw off a spirited Mark Webster 5-3 at Alexandra Palace.
The Dutchman, who finished runner-up to Phil Taylor 12 months ago, had come from behind to beat Scotland’s Gary Anderson in the last 16 on Saturday, but last night he found himself having to fend off Webster after racing into a 4-1 lead himself.
Webster dug deep to get within a set of Van Gerwen, but the Netherlands player – who admitted he had become over-confident – gathered himself together and managed to take the clinching eighth set.
“At the end I didn’t play well at all. I was too confident, and after I lost focus and concentration,” Van Gerwen told ESPN Darts. “The last couple of sets I played absolutely rubbish, but it’s something to practise.”
Van Gerwen will play the winner of Adrian Lewis and James Wade, who followed Van Gerwen and Webster on to the stage.
Scotland’s Peter Wright and Australian Simon Whitlock will clash in the other semi-finals following dramatic tie-break victories over Wes Newton and Ian White on Saturday night.
Scottish-born Wright, the No 16 seed in the £1 million event, continued his dream run by edging out Newton in a classic which saw the pair swapping sets like prize boxers trading blows.
Newton took the first two sets to lead before Wright hit back to level, but the Fleetwood ace, seeded eighth, took the fifth in a deciding leg to regain control – only to be punished for missing two darts to lead 4-2 as the Scot again hit back to level.
Wright then won the seventh set 3-1 as he moved ahead for the first time, only to see Newton take the eighth without reply to force a decider. Wright initially missed four match darts as Newton came from 2-0 down to take the final set into a tie-break, but he prevailed 5-3. “I need someone to pinch me to see if I’m not dreaming!” said Wright. “It was very tight and it was enjoyable that I could battle it out even if I wasn’t on top form.”
Wright now meets Whitlock for the right to win through to the final, after the Australian overcame a magnificent Ian White comeback before winning the deciding set of their game 4-2 in a tie-break.