Cross Ready To Kick Ass! But Voltage May Soon Become Eeyore!

ROB CROSS is ready to kick ass in the PDC Home Tour after becoming the owner of four new DONKEYS.

Cross is looking forward to getting back to ‘big-time darts’.

The 2018 World Champion has been handed a really tricky last 32 group with Ryan Searle, Luke Woodhouse, and Daniel Larsson for the online streaming event tonight (Sat). But the Hastings battler is convinced he can deliver more bulls than mules after making a home for his four new four-legged pals.He said:

“It’s actually a really emotional story. After my grandad died of Covid-19 a couple of months ago we took my Nan in to look after her.“

It’s obviously been such a stressful time for all of us. But we are getting there, day-by-day and settling into this new life.

“But out of the blue my Nan suddenly said that as a thank you for all the support we’ve given her and looked after her, she had bought four donkeys for her grandkids.

“My wife Georgia is pregnant with our fourth baby so that’s one each for all the kids. The kids are obviously so excited about this.

“It’s been left to me to build a stable, so the old JCB digger has been out again to get the ground ready to start work on it. “I’m also looking to put a giant extension on the house now that my Nan is living with us. Lockdown has been helpful in that way giving me so much time.

“We’ve not given the donkeys any names yet. We were thinking Snakey, MVG, Gerwyn, and Bully!

No seriously, the kids will get to give them their names.

“It’s been a fantastic distraction for the kids to have something so different to do. But for dad is been really hard labor for a few weeks now!” Cross admits that he is chomping at the bit to get back to big-time darts but is happy that the Home Tour is keeping him focused on practice.

Rob added: “I’m really missing the competition to be fair. You get so used to the traveling and rivalries, that’s what motivates me.“I’m not quite sure what will happen with the World Matchplay in late July, I was hoping to still be able to defend my title but that seems very unlikely now. “Whatever happens I won’t stress about it. I’m not that sort of person. Whenever it goes ahead, I’ll get the chance to defend it. 

What the hell’s that? It looks like four donkeys from here!

“The Home Tour has been very different. I think I was very lucky to get through the first group stage, I didn’t exactly set the world alight. But I got over the line.“I will have to up my game big time to get past Ryan, Luke and Daniel. They are such great players and people will realise that in years to come. Luke obviously hit a nine-darter in his opening group, he’s no mug!

“I think this is probably the tournament of the underdog. I know that Gary Anderson is through but so many top seeds have gone out, it proves once again just how strong the standard is in the PDC.”


Pics: Taylor Lanning

Anderson ‘Masks’ Concerns Of Written Off Year!

GARY ANDERSON believes that this year will be “written off” with doubts that the World Matchplay will go ahead. The two-times World Champion goes into the last 32 of the PDC Home Tour online streaming event tonight (Thurs) against Luke Humphries, Nick Kenny, and Jamie Lewis.

Gary Anderson has concerns about the holding of the World Matchplay.

But Ando, 49, has revealed he does not feel the Matchplay can happen in July and is happy to just wait for the all-clear from experts.

He said: “I don’t know if it can run at all to be honest. They are telling you, you have to stay away from people. “If we are up in Blackpool, we are up staying in hotels. You have air con which is flying through other rooms. “I will wait until we get all the all-clear and it will be back to normal. They have got to take in hotels into consideration. 

“Where are you going to stay? It’s the same when you sit on an aeroplane. If somebody has a cold, by the time it comes through on the air con, everyone ends up with it. “I think it will be the same in hotels and venues. I don’t have a clue. I will wait until I get the green flag to say it’s safe to come out.

“If we are seven or eight weeks behind on the ProTour then we could have a week in Barnsley. Play for the seven or eight days that we need to catch up. That’s not a problem. But the same again – staying in hotels. Can the boys abroad travel? Can they get flights across?

I think this year will be written off, to be honest.”

However, when darts does make it back on the big stage for TV cameras, players and officials could be wearing Anderson branded masks – all proceeds going to the NHS.

,

He added: “Hopefully they all sell. Dee Smith at Burghley Sports came up with the idea. So, hopefully, load of folk will buy them, make loads of money and we can pass that on to the NHS. “They have been brilliant. You hear about it on the news every day. It’s not just the nurses and doctors, you have the admin staff, the cleaners in hospital, anyone who has something to do with the emergency services. They are right in the line of fire. Hats off to them and thank you very much.

“It would be a bit strange if fans wear them. Even stranger standing on stage, playing with them on! But you never know. Listen get fingers out of your pockets, get a couple bought, and it will go to a good cause. Hopefully we will see loads of them.

”Anderson also admits that he feels for fellow countryman Peter Wright who has had his World Champion year ‘stolen’ from him.

He added: “I haven’t thought about that but it could be. But if this Worlds were to go then he would score an extra year doesn’t he? There will be downs and pluses. “So, it’s a a shame, you play all your life to lift that title and then get it taken away, well the tournaments don’t happen, and you aren’t mentioned as the World Champion.”

Now Anderson faces a tricky Home Tour group including Humphries who became the first Premier League Challenger to win a match against him in March. Ando admits that playing online is a very different experience, adding: “It was strange. I struggled with Dan talking in between each leg. I was pacing up and down. You have got someone you can see when you throw the last darts. So, you know when to walk. I was standing there listening for the thuds on the dartboard. It was hard, you know. But it was fun also.

“I have had a few throws since Barnsley. I have been a home teacher. It takes up all my time. The school have been great and sent Tai plenty of stuff through. It’s coming through the internet. So we have been struggling to print a lot off. He’s up and running now. 

“Rachel deals with a lot of it, more than I do. I have got patience that lasts about five minutes. Two young kids test your patience. They do test it. It’s hard for them as well as they cannot see their friends or go to the nursery. They are stuck as well. 

“Fortunately they have a decent-sized garden and get chucked out of there for a couple of hours every day.

“There are ducks, chickens in the morning. I am up usually at 5.30am, letting them out. Tai gets up at 7am, 7.30am. I am the one who gets up and does his job. He needs to learn.”


Gary Anderson was talking to Darts World’s Phil Lanning

Pics: Taylor Lanning

Cross Fears Time Running Out For Matchplay Defence.

Reigning World Matchplay champion Rob Cross has revealed his fear of being unable to defend the title he claimed so memorably in Blackpool last year.

Thoughtful? Rob Cross is coming to terms with possibly being unable to defend The World Matchplay. (pic: Taylor Lanning)

Talking to Phil Lanning, for Darts World, the former world champion said:

“I know the PDC is making that decision by June 5. Obviously I hope it can go ahead somehow”.

Due to the Lockdown and social distancing rules caused by Covid-19 almost all live sporting events have been postponed or cancelled for the forseeable future. However the sport of darts has been at the forefront in attempting to keep its fans entertained during these troubled times.

The PDC have initiated the Home Tour and have postponed, rather than cancel, their major events in the hope of finding workable solutions later in the year.

Cross known as ‘Voltage’ to darts fans claimed the second biggest trophy in the PDC in 2019 adding it to his fairytale World Championship win. he added:

“It was my second favourite moment of my short career to win last year.”

Cross also commented on the rash of social media abuse suffered by players that seems to be on the increase. See the full story exclusive to Darts World here.


Featured pic: L Lustig/PDC

Voltage Shocked By Online Abuse – Rob Cross Exclusive!

ROB CROSS has hit out at the social media abuse that “hurts” the top players including World Champion Peter Wright. The 2018 World Champion was on the receiving end of death threats to him and his family after winning the big one at the Ally Pally two years ago.

Now Voltage fears it’s getting worse after Kyle Anderson, Jelle Klaasen, Michael Smith and Paul Nicholson received more abuse on Twitter over the past few weeks during lockdown. He said: “It’s not acceptable in any way. I know it’s been spoken about so much by different sports stars and celebrities. But I don’t know what happened to the ‘Be Kind’ message after Caroline Flack took her own life.

“Look at recently what Ian Wright got. He’s a brilliant bloke, so funny. Yet the messages he got were just vile. “I remember how much horrible stuff got said to Peter Wright and his family a few years back. Yet he’s the nicest guy ever, never says or does anything bad to anyone.

“Trust me this is serious. It was the worst thing that happened in my career when I got the death threats, especially to my kids.

“It really hurts players and their families. I don’t think any of us deserve threats and accusations of cheating. My rule is that if you wouldn’t say something to someone’s face, then don’t say it. “Surely there are more important things in the world right now to worry about than abusing a darts player. “I notice that one fan had a go at Daryl Gurney and then apologised. I just wish people would think before they say something so vile.

“I’ve been getting horrible messages even during matches if I lose a leg. After the match, I look at my phone and I can see they’ve been sent at certain times when I was playing! “We all like a bit of banter and most of us will take the stick for a laugh, but not when it’s really vile. You can’t cross that line.”

Cross agrees with Nicholson that social media accounts must be verified with a name and address so the keyboard warriors can be identified by police. He added:

“It’s very sad because I don’t think that will happen. When you see what is said these days, I can’t believe nothing has been done yet.“

The sad thing is that it will stop sportspeople and celebrities interacting with the fans, they will just stop using social media. That’s not fair on the real fans who do give us great support.”

Voltage, last year’s World Matchplay and European Champion, has drawn Ryan Searle, Luke Woodhouse, and Daniel Larsson in his next Low6 Home Tour group on May 30. He also hopes he will get to defend his Matchplay title in late July, adding: “I know the PDC is making that decision by June 5. Obviously I hope it can go ahead somehow. It was my second favourite moment of my short career to win last year.”


Pics: Taylor Lanning

PDC Release World Matchplay Update.

The PDC has issued the following update in relation to the 2020 Betfred World Matchplay:

At present, the 2020 Betfred World Matchplay remains scheduled for July 18-26 at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, and we continue to work with all relevant parties towards achieving this if possible.

2019 BETFRED WORLD MATCHPLAY FINAL MICHAEL SMITH v ROB CROSS WINTER GARDENS 28/7/19 Pic: Christopher Dean / PDC

As with all PDC tournaments at present, we remain in regular contact with the UK Government in relation to updates regarding regulations and are constantly monitoring the global situation.

However, the PDC plans to confirm on or before Friday June 5 a decision in relation to the planned July dates for this event.

We appreciate that the current global restrictions give cause for concern amongst fans who have purchased tickets for this event.

Should restrictions mean that the July dates are not possible, it would be the PDC’s plan to rearrange the Betfred World Matchplay for a date later in 2020, in line with other recently-affected tournaments.

ENDS

Darts World Reader Ticks Matchplay Off His List!

Matty Hughes is a young darts fan, studying journalism, who is trying to get to as many of the most famous events as he can manage. Here are his thoughts on a recent trip to the PDC World Matchplay:

PIC; LAWRENCE LUSTIG ROUND I GERWYN PRICE V STEPHEN BUNTING STEVE BUNTING IN ACTION.
This Game proved the highlight for Matty and his friends.

As a big darts fan, I’ve always wanted to go to the World Matchplay Darts in Blackpool. I’ve been to the Premier League many times and managed The World Grand Prix in Ireland once. So this new year I asked my friends if they wanted to go to the World Matchplay? Luckily they said, “yes let’s go”.

Once I saw the draw, and that Gary Anderson was playing on the opening night, I was really made up because I am a big Gary Anderson fan, Rob Cross and Nathan Aspinall were playing as well, so it was a no brainer.

On the day of the event we travelled from Llandudno Junction in North Wales, we got the train to Chester and then we had a 10 minute wait, then we had to change in Liverpool and then we had 20 minute wait there, we arrived in Blackpool at 3:00 pm and then we walked from the train station into the town and we went for a pint on the pier, well you would, wouldn’t you? before going to the hotel to check-in.

After dropping our bags off it was back into town for the traditional fish and chips tea. By that time, it was doors opening at the Winter Gardens. When we arrived you could taste the atmosphere building, there were a lot of fans from all over the place. When we went in, we went to the bar to buy beer so we didn’t have to go during the games because of the huge number of people who would do that during the matches.

John Mcdonald came on stage to get the fans ready for the action, first up was in form Nathan Aspinall he was facing experienced Mervyn King. King, who had been showing a return to form, showed his quality to beat Aspinall.

Next up was Price vs Bunting, it was a very close game, and both players gave the fans a brilliant game to watch, Bunting won the game on sudden death leg. Not bad for our second match!

The guys also saw battle-hardened legend Mervyn King. (Photo: Lawrence Lustig)

Next up was the defending champion Gary Anderson. Anderson was coming into this tournament on back of winning the World Cup of Darts with Peter Wright. However, Anderson didn’t take part in the Premier League due to his back problems. Anderson was far from his best against Danny Noppert. Noppert did not take advantage Anderson was safely through into round two.

The final game of the night was Rob Cross vs Chris Dobey, once the draw was made this game looked a potential a banana skin game for Cross. But the former World Champion was switched on and showed he was deadly serious about this tournament. Dobey was disappointing, if it was Dobey on his true form, it could have been a difficult night for Rob Cross.

My overall thoughts on my experience at the Matchplay, the whole evening was brilliant, all the games were fantastic, a lot of drama, good performances from King and Bunting. There was no trouble or anything like it. All the fans we met were fantastic and simply enjoying their time at the darts.

I would definitely like to go to the Matchplay again, but there are others to tick off my list first.

If you have a tale to tell or feel you could contribute please drop us a line at:

articles@dartsworld.com

Cross Adds World Matchplay to His Collection of Triumphs!

SUPER CROSS CLAIMS BETFRED WORLD MATCHPLAY GLORY

2019 BETFRED WORLD MATCHPLAY FINAL MICHAEL SMITH v ROB CROSS WINTER GARDENS 28/7/19 Pic: Christopher Dean / Scantech Media Ltd 07930 364436 chris@scantechmedia.com www.scantechmedia.com

ROB CROSS held off a superb fightback from Michael Smith to claim Betfred World Matchplay glory with an 18-13 success at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens on Sunday night.

Cross followed up his fairy-tale 2018 World Championship success with a second televised ranking title as he scooped the Phil Taylor Trophy and a £150,000 pay-day in style.

Having reeled off eight straight legs to win his semi-final against Daryl Gurney 17-15, Cross extended that run by opening the final with another nine in a row to move half-way to victory.

He began the contest with back-to-back 72 checkouts, and added an 81 combination for a 12-darter before punishing misses from Smith in three straight legs to pull clear.

St Helens’ Smith had missed nine doubles during the opening six legs of that spell, but finally found his range to take out 84 in two darts to win leg ten.

Smith also won three of the next four to cut the gap, only for Cross to steady his nerve with finishes of 73 and 115 before punishing five misses from his rival to move 12-4 up.

The 2018 World Championship finalist hit back superbly with legs of 12, 13 and 12 darts as he pulled back to 12-7, before a last-dart double 16 from Cross gave him the 20th leg.

Smith, inspired by a capacity Winter Gardens crowd, claimed another three legs – including an 11-darter – as he pulled back to 13-10, and after Cross finished 110 the St Helens man came from 250 points behind to win the 25th leg on double 18.

The next two were shared, before six misses from Cross allowed Smith to cut the gap to just two legs at 15-13 as he threatened to complete the greatest comeback in the event’s history.

The Hastings ace, though, held his nerve with another 72 combination and posted double 16 to move to the brink of glory and sealed the title with double four.

“It feels amazing,” said Cross. “I’m lost for words – so happy that I’ve won this title.

“I’ve loved this place from day one and it’s been so special to me. Everything about this tournament is amazing and to walk out with this [trophy] makes it all complete.

“It was a weird game. I went so far in front and towards the end I switched off, so the double 16 to put me 17-13 up was what won it for me.

“Michael played great darts all week but he struggled on doubles tonight and it made me more edgy. He came back well but I had to stay calm.

2019 BETFRED WORLD MATCHPLAY FINAL MICHAEL SMITH v ROB CROSS WINTER GARDENS 28/7/19 Pic: Christopher Dean / Scantech Media Ltd 07930 364436 chris@scantechmedia.com www.scantechmedia.com

“The crowd were amazing, they carried me through yesterday and carried Michael today.”

Cross has reached the UK Open and Premier League finals during 2019, but the World Matchplay triumph ended almost 12 months since his last tournament win, at the Brisbane Darts Masters.

“I’ve not played badly this year and I’ve broken my duck now,” he added. “There was pressure because I’ve lost in two finals this year, so to get over the winning line is huge.

“I need to get a bit more ruthless for the rest of the year. I’ve got a bit of confidence now and I still feel I can improve, but if I can be consistent”

Smith, a former Premier League and World Championship finalist, said: “My doubles deserted me tonight. I was constantly chasing and I didn’t turn up.

“Even at 9-0 down I still believed that I was going to win, but you pay the price for being 9-0 down. I proved that I can fight but when I got back in it, my doubles disappeared again.

“My scoring wasn’t there and my finishing wasn’t, but all credit to Rob because he did a job. I’ve made another final and it’s another runner-up trophy but it won’t stop me.”

The former World Youth Champion added: “I’d rather have got beaten in the first round than lose in that final – it hurts less.

“I’m fuming – I keep making finals but I don’t want to be “the nearly man”, I want to be the one that wins them.”

The 13 maximums hit during the final ensured that a new record for 180s in the tournament was set, with the final tally of 330 surpassing the previous best of 323 in the 2015 event.

The record-breaking number of 180s also contributed to a £32,000 donation from Betfred to Parkinson’s UK following their first year as title sponsors of the 32-player tournament.

2019 Betfred World Matchplay

Sunday July 28

Final

Rob Cross 18-13 Michael Smith

ENDS

Gurney to Meet Cross in Second Semi.

DARYL GURNEY and Rob Cross will meet in the semi-finals of the 2019 Betfred World Matchplay after coming through the final two quarter-final matches in Blackpool on Friday.

BETFRED WORLD MATCHPLAY 2019 WINTER GARDENS, BLACKPOOL PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG QUARTER FINAL PETER WRIGHT V DARYL GURNEY PETER WRIGHT IN ACTION

Gurney overcame Peter Wright 16-13 in a high-quality encounter to reach the semi-finals for the second time in three years, while Cross edged out Stephen Bunting 16-14 on a captivating night of darts at the Winter Gardens.

The meeting between Gurney and Cross will open Saturday’s mouth-watering semi-final line-up, before Glen Durrant looks to continue his fairy-tale debut challenge for the Phil Taylor Trophy against Michael Smith.

Wright was widely tipped to lift a first World Matchplay title on Sunday night, but his 20-match winning streak was ended by two-time TV title winner Gurney, who showed ice-cool composure to close out the victory.

“It might’ve looked like I showed composure on the outside, but inside I felt like a little kid,” Gurney admitted.

“I know I’m never going to be the best player in the world, but I’m a grafter who can beat the best players in the world.

“As usual I did it the hard way, but I’m through now and I’ve got a massive opportunity to win this title.”

Wright, who produced his tenth consecutive ton-plus average (104.57), landed the game’s first ton-plus checkout with a 120 to level the tie at 5-5 at the second interval.

With the game played at an incredibly high standard, there was never more than two legs between the pair all the way through to 13-all.

After Gurney held throw, the 27th leg proved decisive as the Northern Irishman fired in a 180 and followed it up with a 70 checkout to break throw and go within a leg of the match.

Gurney wrapped up the win in the following leg with the minimum of fuss, taking out 25 in two darts to avenge his 2017 semi-final defeat to Wright and continue his bid for a third TV crown.

Earlier in the night, Cross produced two world-class legs at the end of his tight clash with Bunting to make it through.

Former World Champion Cross, who failed to make it past the last 16 on his last two Blackpool appearances, led from the third leg and landed the tournament’s second 170 checkout on his way to a commanding 9-4 advantage.

BETFRED WORLD MATCHPLAY 2019 WINTER GARDENS, BLACKPOOL PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG QUARTER FINAL ROB CROSS V STEPHEN BUNTING Rob CROSS IN ACTION

Having come from behind to win his two previous matches, Bunting once again showed his resilience to win six of the next seven legs to level at 10-10.

The game appeared to be heading towards a tie-break as the following eight legs all went with throw to make it 14-14, only for Cross to hit two crucial 180s in each of the last two legs which he won in ten and 13 darts to deny Bunting a hat-trick of dramatic comebacks.

“Stephen was incredible, he was a real credit to himself up there but thankfully I managed to hold tight and come on strong at the end,” said Cross, who hit 13 180s.

“Towards the end of the game I managed to find my Premier League form and I think I showed nerves of steel.

“I’ve learnt a lot over the last two years and I’m starting to get there now. Hopefully there will be a happy ending for me here.”

Cross is now the 7/4 favourite with sponsors Betfred to take the £150,000 title on Sunday night, with Durrant 5/2 to add to his three Lakeside Championship titles with a maiden PDC televised triumph.

Smith is 7/2 as he chases the first televised ranking title of his career, with Gurney the 4/1 outsider ahead of his clash with world number two Cross.

2019 Betfred World Matchplay

Friday July 26

Quarter-Finals

Rob Cross 16-14 Stephen Bunting

Daryl Gurney 16-13 Peter Wright

Saturday July 27 (1900 BST)

Semi-Finals

Rob Cross v Daryl Gurney

Glen Durrant v Michael Smith

Best of 33 legs

Sunday July 28 (1900 BST)

Final

Durrant/Smith v Cross/Gurney

Best of 35 legs

Betfred Tournament Winner Odds

7/4 Rob Cross

5/2 Glen Durrant

7/2 Michael Smith

4/1 Daryl Gurney

Odds correct at time of writing and courtesy www.betfred.com. Subject to fluctuation.

ENDS

Cross vs Smith – World Matchplay Final 2019.

COMEBACK KID CROSS & DOMINANT SMITH REACH BETFRED WORLD MATCHPLAY FINAL

2019 BETFRED WORLD MATCHPLAY SEMI FINALS ROB CROSS v DARYL GURNEY WINTER GARDENS 27/7/19 Pic: Christopher Dean / Scantech Media Ltd 07930 364436 chris@scantechmedia.com www.scantechmedia.com

ROB CROSS and Michael Smith will meet in the final of the 2019 Betfred World Matchplay on Sunday after coming through their semi-final ties on a night of high-drama in Blackpool.

Cross produced one of the most incredible comebacks ever seen on the Winter Gardens stage to edge out Daryl Gurney 17-15, while Smith ended Glen Durrant’s fairy-tale run with a convincing 17-10 victory.

World number two Cross is now one game away from a first televised ranking title since his World Championship win; an outcome that seemed unlikely when he trailed Gurney 14-7, before winning three of the next four legs to spark a revival.

At 15-10 Gurney missed four darts at double top to go within one of the match and Cross took full advantage, restricting the Northern Irishman to just two darts at double in an incredible onslaught which saw him level at 15-15.

Despite Gurney landing his 14th and 15th 180s of the match in the last two legs, Cross took the lead for the first time since leg seven at 16-15.

Gurney’s woes on the outer ring continued as he missed three more darts at double, this time double 12 to allow Cross to complete a breath-taking comeback with a last dart in hand double 16 to spark jubilant scenes among his fans.

“I feel absolutely amazing, this will stay with me forever,” said Cross, who will compete in a third televised final in less than five months after coming runner-up at the UK Open and Premier League.

“The crowd spurred me on to win it. I’m so thankful for their support and I’m so grateful to still be in the tournament.

“I wasn’t too bad in the first five legs but then it deteriorated. I missed a shed load of doubles and deserved to be behind. I was poor but as my scoring came back I really tried to put my foot down.

“I didn’t feel myself tonight so I’ve got to be right for the final, and I will be. If I’m ready, then anything can happen.”

Cross has also reached the UK Open and Premier League finals during 2019, losing out to Nathan Aspinall and Michael van Gerwen respectively.

“To be in a third consecutive major final is amazing,” he added. “This venue is iconic and it will be special for me.

“I want to go up there and produce – I need to come out tomorrow and be ruthless. I’m really looking forward to the game.”

Following the Cross-Gurney encounter, Smith wasted no time in re-acquainting himself with the Winter Gardens stage as he won nine of the first 11 legs, all in five visits or fewer to the board, to take a commanding 9-2 lead in Saturday’s second semi-final.

Durrant’s resilience saw him battle his way back to trail 8-12, but he was unable to find the form which saw him beat Adrian Lewis, Michael van Gerwen and James Wade in the previous rounds.

2019 BETFRED WORLD MATCHPLAY SEMI FINALS GLEN DURRANT v MICHAEL SMITH WINTER GARDENS 27/7/19 Pic: Christopher Dean / Scantech Media Ltd 07930 364436 chris@scantechmedia.com www.scantechmedia.com

Smith poured water on any hopes of a Durrant comeback by winning the next three legs before continuing his relentless high-scoring and clinical finishing to close out the win and reach his second televised ranking final following his runner-up place at January’s World Championship.

“I’m overwhelmed to be in the final – so happy,” said Smith. “It feels good, especially with the year I’ve had where everyone seems to write me off.

“I’ve shown that I can fight this week and I showed the mental attitude tonight – I had to prove a point.

“I got ahead of Glen and at 8-2 I knew that even if I lost the next two sessions 3-2, 3-2 then he was only making one leg up on me both times. I stayed focused and it all went to plan.”

Smith also reached the 2018 Premier League final, and will be chasing the biggest title of his career when he challenges for the £150,000 title and the Phil Taylor Trophy on Sunday.

“I’ve been in finals before and I have to get a win soon,” he added. “If it doesn’t happy tomorrow then I’ll be back stronger, but I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.”

“As long as I keep believing that I’ll win one, I know for a fact that I will.”

Cross is the 4/6 favourite with sponsors Betfred going into the final, with Smith the 6/5 outsider to lift the Phil Taylor Trophy.

2019 Betfred World Matchplay

Schedule of Play

Saturday July 27

Semi-Finals

Rob Cross 17-15 Daryl Gurney

Michael Smith 17-10 Glen Durrant

Sunday July 28 (1900 BST)

Final

Michael Smith v Rob Cross

Best of 35 legs

Betfred Tournament Winner Odds

4/6 Rob Cross

6/5 Michael Smith

Odds correct at time of writing and courtesy www.betfred.com. Subject to fluctuation

ENDS

Matchplay Semi Takes Shape – Smith and Durrant Through.

DURRANT’S DREAM CONTINUES AS HE JOINS SMITH IN BETFRED WORLD MATCHPLAY SEMI-FINALS

BETFRED WORLD MATCHPLAY 2019 WINTER GARDENS, BLACKPOOL PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG QUARTER FINAL MICHAEL SMITH V MERVYN KING GLEN DURRANT IN ACTION

GLEN DURRANT and Michael Smith will meet in the semi-finals of the 2019 Betfred World Matchplay after coming through their quarter-final ties on Thursday in Blackpool.

An emotional Durrant savoured the moment of the Winter Gardens crowd singing his name after his convincing 16-7 win over James Wade, while Smith ran out a 16-11 victor over Mervyn King.

A Blackpool debutant coming into the tournament, Durrant continued his incredible run by following up wins over Adrian Lewis and Michael van Gerwen with another memorable success, and the Middlesbrough man is now dreaming of lifting the Phil Taylor Trophy.

“At the start of the tournament I just wanted to prove to the PDC crowd that I could handle playing on this stage, and now I’m daring to dream of the title,” said Durrant.

“I’m absolutely ecstatic, I’m living the dream right now. I think the crowd are taking to me because they see an ordinary man who is having a whale of a time.

“I’m having a wonderful week, that’s the best way I can describe it. It’s such a special moment for me, it’s life-changing.”

A shaky start from the three-time Lakeside Champion saw Wade take the opening two legs, only for Durrant to break straight back to go into the first break 2-3 behind.

BETFRED WORLD MATCHPLAY 2019 WINTER GARDENS, BLACKPOOL PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG QUARTER FINAL MICHAEL SMITH V MERVYN KING JAMES WADE IN ACTION

The next three legs went with throw, before Durrant pinned the bullseye for a 91 checkout to break throw and take the lead for the first time, a lead which he kept for the rest of the match.

Durrant warmed to his task and took nine of the next 11 legs, capitalising on a below-par display from Wade, to go within two legs of the match at 14-6.

Wade managed to get one more leg on the board, but was powerless to stop the Durrant onslaught, as the 49-year-old sealed the win in style with two double tops for a roof-raising 137 checkout.

Earlier in the night, Smith became the first player to reach the semi-finals thanks to a 16-11 win over King.

BETFRED WORLD MATCHPLAY 2019 WINTER GARDENS, BLACKPOOL PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG QUARTER FINAL MICHAEL SMITH V MERVYN KING MICHAEL SMITH IN ACTION

World Championship runner-up Smith, who had failed to make it past the Last 16 stage in his previous six Blackpool appearances, got off to a perfect start, winning the opening two legs in 23 darts on his way to a 5-1 lead.

King rallied, winning the next three legs in 18 darts each to reduce the deficit to one leg, only for Smith to hold and then break back immediately to restore his three-leg cushion.

Again King came back, this time winning four legs in succession to take the lead for the first time at 8-7, only for Smith to produce another two high-class legs of 11 and 12 darts to go back in front.

The next seven legs all went with throw, including a bizarre leg which saw 22 missed darts at double, before Smith struck a pivotal 11-dart break to go 14-11 in front.

That turned out to be the crucial point in the match, as Smith dashed to the finish line without losing another leg, sealing a big victory in his career with a 114 checkout.

“It feels good to be in the semis but I want to get to the final and have the chance to lift the trophy now,” said Smith.

“In the first session I felt on top of the world and in the next two sessions I felt like I was at the bottom of the world. I had to concentrate and I did some important throws on my throw and a couple of 180s on his to get the breaks.

“Mervyn’s a quality player and has been a good friend. He’s always helped me along when I needed advice and I’m thankful for someone like Mervyn – one of had to win and I’m just glad it’s me.”

The quarter-finals conclude on Friday with a tie between Rob Cross and Stephen Bunting, before Daryl Gurney and Peter Wright face off for the fourth semi-final spot.

With 2007 champion Wade now knocked out, there will be a new name on the Phil Taylor Trophy on Sunday night, with Durrant the new 5/2 tournament favourite with sponsors Betfred, ahead of Cross (11/4), Wright (3/1) and Smith (4/1).

2019 Betfred World Matchplay

Thursday July 25

Quarter-Finals

Michael Smith 16-11 Mervyn King

Glen Durrant 16-7 James Wade

Friday July 26 (1900 BST)

Quarter-Finals

Rob Cross v Stephen Bunting

Peter Wright v Daryl Gurney

Betfred Tournament Winner Odds

5/2 Glen Durrant

11/4 Rob Cross

3/1 Peter Wright

4/1 Michael Smith

14/1 Daryl Gurney

50/1 Stephen Bunting

Odds correct at time of writing and courtesy www.betfred.com. Subject to fluctuation.

ENDS