Gerwyn Price regained world number one spot and reached his first World Matchplay semi-final after hitting the highest average of the tournament so far, in an enthralling 16-14 win over Jose de Sousa.
Meanwhile, Danny Noppert got the better of his countryman in Blackpool to book his spot in the last four, where he will take on Price, after the Ice Man came through that thrilling showdown with de Sousa. Here’s how a thrilling evening unfolded, as Betfred donated £25k to Macmillan Cancer Trust, on the evening when 301 tournament 180s were hit.
Dirk van Duijvenbode 11-16 Danny Noppert
The battle of the Dutchmen certainly lived up to the billing as Noppert and DVD played out a thriller in Blackpool. Noppert, the UK Open champion is ranked 11th, but got off to a flying start as he went 4-1 up while his countryman floundered under pressure. He missed 12 out of 13 in that opening period, before DVD tried to press the reset button at the first break.
He improved to bring the scores back to 6-4 by the second break, and managed to find his accuracy with the doubles, nailing a D18 to close out the second period. In these extended quarter-finals, first to 16, there was plenty of time to recover after a slow start, and Van Duijvenbode was attempting to slowly claw his way back.
The third stanza saw him back in business as he flipped the scoreline around. He hit a couple of maximums as he shot into his rhythm and kept the pressure on his opponent as he averaged over 98. Minutes later he was 8-7 up, but this was not one way traffic.
Three legs in a row for Noppert showed his guile, and soon he had his opponent on the back foot, as he had in the opening period of the match. From 12-11 up, he extended his lead to 15-11, after he found a maximum to capitalise on a poor visit of 41 from Van Duijvenbode.
One leg away, he then produced more magic to seal his place in the semi-final. Another maximum left him 121, and he finished off the match with a sensational bullseye. What a way to finish, and the celebrations that followed, as he booked his place in the last four, lived up to his performance, which saw him win the final four legs.
Take a bow, Danny Noppert 👏
Gerwyn Price 16-14 Jose de Sousa
This match got off to a flying start as both players brought their A game, and the entertainment to the stage. Gerwyn Price got off to a stunner as he nailed a 160 checkout with a celebration to the crowd, but Jose de Sousa gave it back moments later as he smashed a 160 finish to send the crowd wild. Even the Ice Man cracked a smile after that exchange, before both players kept their composure to exchange legs on their throw to make it 5-5.
Price managed to take further control of the tie as the Portuguese couldn’t find consistency on the doubles. On one occasion he missed D12 and D6, while on another leg he hit 18-D18-D18 to check out. That kind of irrational finishing gave the Welshman a 9-6 lead, and his celebrations on stage showed his confidence in this match.
An 11-dart leg followed before Price nailed a T17 D16 finish, and his average was above 106 as he took a 12-8 lead. The Ice Man was so impressive in this middle period but to The Special One’s credit, he stuck about and improved as the match went on. He came back out and won four legs in a row to drag it back to 13-12.
It was a seismic turnaround as Price dropped darts, and De Sousa kept on finding spectacular finishes. The nerves struck for both players, but the Portugues bagged a D20 finish to level the scores. It was something that nobody saw coming.
Price pulled a leg out the bag to restore his lead, then broke The Special One after some special darts. Price missed a bull for the win as De Sousa brought it back to 15-14. The final leg summed up the chaos of this match as it swung and fro, before the Portuguese left the door ajar to give Price a D8 to win.
He gobbled up the opportunity at the third attempt to reach his first World Matchplay semi-final after hitting the highest average of the tournament so far. Darts doesn’t get much better than this.
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