Michael van Gerwen showed guts and determination to reach the Betfred World Matchplay final where he will face Gerwyn Price, after the Dutchman won six of the last seven legs against Dimitri Van den Bergh to win a tense and tough semi-final 17-14.
Neither player was at their best as the nerves clearly got to them, but in the key moments, as we have seen so many times before, MVG was able to pull out some huge legs to get himself in front and win the match, to take him through to his fourth World Matchplay final. Having trailed for the entire match, he only took the lead for the first time at 15-14, and from that point, there was only going to be one winner.
Van den Bergh had been full of confidence in this tournament so far, and showed his intent by strolling on stage and hitting a 180 with his first three darts. Having knocked out Peter Wright, the ‘Dreammaker’ got off to a flyer in Blackpool and clearly rattled Michael Van Gerwen in the opening stages.
The Dutchman failed to clean up 30 which saw him broken to go 3-1 down but both players struggled to finish in the fifth leg - before Van den Bergh finally finished with a D8 to go into the first break 4-1 up. It was a stunning start, as MVG floundered.
- Gerwyn Price hits nine-darter on way to the final
It is amazing what a break can do in darts. Just a few minutes off the stage, away from the spotlight, allowed Van Gerwen to regroup, while the Belgian, who had started so brightly, lost his way. Within minutes, the scores were level at 4-4 as MVG used his nous to level the scores.
However, the chance to stay level didn’t materialise and Van den Bergh moved into a 6-4 lead, as he somehow plucked up the courage to find key darts, even if he wasn’t playing his best. MVG won that mini-set between breaks 3-2, but once again came back out in better form.
The six-time Premier League champion bagged an immediate break straight after the interval as he hit a 140, 180 and then finished it off despite missing four darts in a row. The Dutchman brought it to 6-6 with D20, then the pair moved on to 7 apiece with little fuss.
He sets up a BLOCKBUSTER final against Gerwyn Price. 🚨
For all of the hype in the Gerwyn Price win, this game was played in a somewhat subdued atmosphere, which seemed to affect the game on stage. The Belgian took the lead into the next interval, but this time he was just one leg ahead as MVG closed the gap again. Both of them averaged under 100 and had a 32% and 37% doubles success rate as they approached the halfway stage, such was the lack of consistency.
Van den Bergh missed a dart to go 10-8 up and instead MVG levelled it at 9-9 with a D1, such was the manner this game was being played in. It wasn’t pretty, but it was dogged as both players matched each other for nerves and ability.
Then, just before the next break, Van den Bergh broke again to go 11-9 up, finishing from a ton to give himself some room to manouvere. MVG strangely looked at his hand after releasing a misplaced dart, and looked out of sorts as VDB took a 12-9 lead.
They traded blows as VDB kept his nose in front, but then MVG finally nailed a D8 to break the Belgian’s throw and then he held his own to bring the scores level once again. But just when it looked like MVG was putting the pressure on, Van den Bergh hit a 114 finish to keep his nose in front. It was so tense, so close.
At 14-14, they both missed doubles to win the leg, before Van Gerwen got one in D11 to break and take the lead for the first time in the match. Then on his throw, he rattled in T20 T20 T13 to give himself an easy and all of a sudden, he was 16-14 up and one leg away.
He missed double tops to reach the final but came back again to nail the D10 which secured his spot in the final against Price, beating the 2020 champion in this semi-final. It was far from pretty at times, but MVG somehow got the job done, by winning six out of the last seven legs.
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