ANDERSON ENDS VAN GERWEN'S DREAM BY SETTING UP WILLIAM HILL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL WITH TAYLOR
GARY ANDERSON will face Phil Taylor for the William Hill World Darts Championship title on Sunday after he knocked out defending champion Michael van Gerwen 6-3 in an enthralling semi-final at Alexandra Palace, as the number two seed got the better of old rival Raymond van Barneveld with a 6-2 victory.
Taylor will go in search of an amazing 17th World Championship title in his 20th final on Sunday night when he takes on the in-form Scot, who is on course to claim the biggest title of his career.
Anderson - a former Premier League champion and the recent Players Championship Finals winner - ended van Gerwen's title defence in a brilliant semi-final clash to secure his second appearance in the final, after losing out to Adrian Lewis in 2011.
The number four seed produced a fabulous performance where he recorded a 102 average and checked out 50 percent of his doubles to prove just too good for the Dutchman, who himself averaged 101 and threw 11 180s.
In a breathless start packed with quality Scotsman Anderson raced into a 3-1 lead - just as he did 12 months ago in their third round contest, which saw van Gerwen hit back to win 4-3 on that occasion.
Again the Dutchman threatened a comeback as he produced two sets of brilliance, hitting three 180s and a 177, two 12-darters and a 118 checkout to level the game.
The seventh set, though, proved crucial as Anderson took the deciding leg to move 4-3 up in the game after four missed doubles from van Gerwen, before taking the next two to book his place in the final.
"It's nice to be in the final again and I'm enjoying my darts again," said Anderson. "It went quite well, and double tops served me well tonight. I was going great then there were a couple of sets that I gave to Michael and I didn't keep the pressure on and it got to 3-3, but I dug in deep and the more pressure I put on him, the more he missed. I shouldn't have given him a chance to get it back to 3-3 in the first place. I let him back in the game, so I just concentrated on playing the same way and just hitting the doubles. Last year I was fuming after losing to Michael, I had it in the bag and really did let it go so I wasn't going to do the same again."
Anderson had defeated Taylor in the final of the 2007 World Darts Trophy and five weeks ago on his way to the Players Championship Finals title, and added: "To me if you're going to win a title you have to beat Phil Taylor. If Phil smashes me in the final then I've been beaten by the best player in the world, but if it's a reverse then I've beaten the best player ever and that's a bigger notch on my belt. Phil's the best there has ever been and ever will be. In 2007 I beat Phil in a final and that's the only one I keep lodged in my mind because it was Taylor and if I did that again here it'd be one I always remember."
The night's other semi-final - a repeat of the 2007 and 2009 finals between Taylor and van Barneveld - saw the Stoke superstar prove too strong for his great rival as he progressed with a 6-2 triumph.
Van Barneveld may have found it just a game too far following his draining quarter-final win over Stephen Bunting on Friday night, as Taylor matched Anderson's 102 average and maintaining his unrivalled record of having never lost a World Championship semi-final in 20 matches over 25 years.
Taylor hit eight 180s and averaged 102.39, while a 121 finish - his first ton-plus checkout of the event - gave him the opening set as he created a 2-0 lead.
Van Barneveld hit back to level by taking six legs out of seven, but a 13-darter in the fifth set's deciding leg gave Taylor back the lead before he claimed the next three sets in ruthless fashion, including a 124 checkout, as he joined Anderson in the final.
"I feel great," said Taylor. "When I was two sets up I as buzzing, but he came back to two each and I started to struggle a little bit. I don't know why and I knew I had to start concentrating because it was a World Championship semi-final. I played some proper darts after that and Barney had to dig in deeper. I was on the nine-darter a couple of times and I'll be after it again in the final. It will be a scrap in the final and Gary Anderson's in for a battle. If he's going to beat me he has a fight on his hands, and I've got a fight on my hands with him. It's going to be a cracking final."