sport

Hammer's title dream still alive

Andy Hamilton reached his second World Championship semi-final courtesy of a 5-2 victory against Belgium's Kim Huybrechts on Friday.

The Stoke thrower produced a fine display in the opening quarter-final of the day, which included 11 maximums and a three-dart average of over 102, to set up a last-four tie against either Simon Whitlock or Gary Anderson at the Alexandra Palace.

Hamilton took early command by taking the first two sets, before Huybrechts won the third without reply to get back into the contest.

The number 17 seed pulled away again by taking the next two sets to lead 4-1. But Huybrechts kept fighting by taking the sixth set to stay in the hunt.

However, Hamilton, who last competed in a World Championship semi-final in 2007, took the seventh set with the aid of three maximums to end Huybrechts spirited challenge.

"I played a good game again today and I still feel incredibly focused and relaxed," said Hamilton. "It's been a childhood dream to win this title, and I have visions of picking it up on Monday night.

"If I keep producing the good averages that I have achieved in my previous couple of matches then I have nothing to worry about."

Hamilton, who overcame Phil Taylor's conqueror Dave Chisnall in the third round, with a two-dart 98 finish to take the first leg before Huybechts landed double three to win the second.

The Stoke ace broke Huybrechts' throw for the second time in the set with a 100 checkout, and a 13-darter in the fourth leg, gave Hamilton the first set.

Both players held throw at the start of the second set, before Huybrechts won the third leg against the darts with an 84 finish, completed on double 11.

Hamilton hit back immediately with a 14-dart finish in the fourth leg, and a 180 followed by a 67 finish secured a two-set lead.

Huybrechts, who defeated Paul Nicholson to reach this stage, won the first leg of set three after Hamilton was guilty of wasting several chances at doubles.

The Belgian then hit double eight to claim the second, and took the next with the aid of two maximums to win the set and reduce the deficit the deficit to 2-1.

Huybrechts took his fourth leg in a row, by converting an 84 finish, to take the first leg of the fourth set, before Hamilton hit double 10 to level.

Hamilton then hit a two-dart 80 finish, to take the third leg, and then won the set in style with a superb 122 checkout, to restore his two-sets advantage.

Hamilton broke throw at the start of the fifth set by hitting double eight, after Huybrechts was off-target with a dart at bullseye, for a 167 checkout.

The second leg also fell the way of the Stoke thrower before firing in two 180s in the next, followed by an 84 finish to move 4-1 ahead.

Both players hit maximums in the first leg which was won by Huybrechts against the darts, and the Belgian then hit double 20 to take the second.

Hamilton hit double 16 to take the third leg but Huybrechts took out 62 to win the set and reduce the deficit to 4-2.

Hamilton started set seven in positive fashion, as recorded checkouts of 110 and 96 to move a leg away from victory.

Huybrechts hit double top at the first time of asking to win the third, only for Hamilton to fire another maximum, before taking out an 84 finish to triumph.

After the match, Huybrechts said: "These last couple of weeks have been a great experience for me. It's the biggest achievement of career to date and I am extremely happy, despite today's loss.

"Andy was the better player today. He's had some tough games and deserves to go a long way in this competition.

"I hope to be back on the big stages again very soon. I have new sponsors and I be playing the whole circuit for the next two years, so I hope to improve, and who know's, possibly go further in this event."