PDC World Championship - Quarterfinals 1

MICHAEL VAN GERWEN reached the semi-finals of the William Hill World Darts Championship for the third straight year after a 5-2 win over Robert Thornton on New Year's Day, as Gary Anderson defeated Peter Wright 5-1 with a superb display in the night's other quarter-final.

Defending champion van Gerwen played out a high-octane match with Thornton where both men averaged over 100 and combined for 27 180s, which was finished off in the best possible style with a maximum 170 finish capping a memorable victory for the Dutchman.
The draw throws up a rematch of last year's third round epic between the two, when Anderson led 3-1 but lost out 4-3 in the end, and with the two men having the best averages so far in this year's event it could also be one to light the blue touch paper.
Van Gerwen stormed into the lead against Thornton after hitting a 180 in all five legs of the opening set, and he quickly marched into a 3-0 lead and looked like making easy progress into the last four, before Scotsman Thornton launched a dogged fightback. The former UK Open champion was averaging around 100 himself and brought the game back to 3-2 as all of a sudden van Gerwen faced a huge obstacle in the road to defending his title. As the two men went toe-to-toe, van Gerwen edged the sixth and seventh sets to move through to the last four with a brilliant 105.26 average - his best average in the tournament as he set up a semi-final showdown Anderson. Thornton averaged 101.49 himself in what was a match of superb quality that saw the pair's peppering of the treble 20 bed accompanied by some fine finishing, including checkouts of 90, 110 and 121 from Thornton and a 122 from van Gerwen before he fittingly finished the match in the manner it deserved - with a maximum 170 checkout on the bull.

"At one point I was 3-0 up and playing well but Robert never gave up and he was fighting right to the end and he deserves a lot of credit for that," said van Gerwen, who is now the 7/4 second favourite with sponsors William Hill. I needed to make sure I kept my head as I was a bit nervous. When I hit the 170 at the end I was delighted and it was a huge relief - there's no better way to finish a match here than that and I didn't want to put myself in a bad position. It's great to average 105 but I was still not totally happy with my performance and there are areas I can improve on going into the next match because you need to improve as the tournament goes on if you want to win the World Championship. When you're 3-0 up like that and playing so well it's important you don't lose your focus because you can think it's easy. It's good to be tested, he made me play well, it was one of the best games of the tournament and I had to fight hard but I've got a lot left in the tank."

Gary Anderson produced more of a powerful all-round display, but he was equally as comfortable as he beat fellow Scot Peter Wright 5-1 to book a rematch with van Gerwen on the Alexandra Palace stage on Saturday.
Anderson was the better player throughout as he averaged 102.12 and landed 11 180s against Wright's three maximums and 95.66 average, with the 2014 runner-up getting back into the match at 2-1 but unable to make any further inroads into the deficit. Although he claimed only one set, Wright's superb finishing had kept him in the game as he landed 11 of 26 doubles and checkouts of 84, 96, 100, 118 and 121 just to keep his hopes alive.

The win puts Anderson into the last four where he will face van Gerwen for a place in the final, as well as having the chance to avenge last year's agonising defeat to the Dutchman - when the 2011 finalist led 3-1 only to lose 4-3 in the third round.

"I seemed to be in control for most of the match, but I missed a few doubles and let Peter back into the game a bit," said Anderson. "It seemed like I was giving legs away at times so I was pleased to get over the line in the end. I'll need to play well against Michael to beat him but he'll need to play well to beat me as well. He's the World Champion so all the pressure will be on him, and I'll just go up there and play my game. He'd better be ready to play because I'll be right behind him!"

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