MVG faces final Power test
Michael van Gerwen beat Simon Whitlock to reach his first World Matchplay final where he will face reigning champion Phil Taylor, who got the better of Gary Anderson in a thriller.
Reigning world champion van Gerwen won four legs at the death to prevail 17-13 over Whitlock, who showed great tenacity to stay in the contest up to that point.
The Dutch thrower served notice of his intent in Blackpool with a 180 in the first leg and then broke Whitlock as he raced to a 2-0 lead, but the Wizard hit back, winning four legs on the spin to take a shock 4-2 lead.
The pair shared legs before van Gerwen hit tops and finished off an 80 checkout with tops to break and draw level at 5-5.
Whitlock broke straight back and held his throw with a 112 checkout to restore his two-leg advantage at 7-5, before the No 1 seed won five legs on the bounce - including a 138 checkout in leg 16 - to race into a 10-7 lead.
Australian Whitlock again showed his fighting qualities to battle back to 13-13, but van Gerwen's decisive four-leg run saw him to the finish line, winning with a double three.
The Dutchman, who averaged 99.75 and hit 55 per cent of his doubles in the win, told Sky Sports: \"It's the first time in my life I've reached the final of it (the World Matchplay) and it's such a fantastic tournament.
\"But I needed to put in very hard work. Simon made it very difficult but I thought I had more in the tank, but I couldn't find my rythmn.
\"But I did very well at the end when I needed to.\"
In the other semi-final Taylor beat Anderson 17-15 to keep his dream alive of winning a seventh successive title - and 15th overall.
The game went with throw - with The Power hitting a 119 checkout with the bull to win the opening leg and an 11-darter to hold in the fifth - before he notched the first break in the sixth leg, hitting tops to move 4-2 ahead after Anderson missed a 36 checkout.
Taylor won the next but Anderson hit an 11-darter to stay in the game and took out tops to break back, but the No 2 responded in kind immediately and then held his own throw to lead 7-4.
Anderson hit double four to reduce the arrears and took out successive 108 and 105 checkouts - both with tops - to level before he made Taylor pay for missing tops by sinking it himself to lead 8-7.
But Taylor hit double 18 to break straight back and the game then went with throw to 11-10 before The Power hit a 146 checkout to break and hold a two-leg advantage.
While Anderson broke straight back with an 11-darter, Taylor broke again in the madhouse to restore his two-leg lead and pulled further ahead with double 16.
Anderson sunk double eight to reduce the arrears but narrowly missed out on a 170 checkout and Taylor hit double four to move 15-12 ahead and the game then went with throw to 16-14.
The Power then missed four darts for the match at double 18 and Anderson hit tops to stay alive, but Taylor was not to be denied and sunk a two-dart 81 checkout to win.
A relieved Taylor, who averaged 105.27 in the win and has yet to lose a final in Blackpool, said: \"I just couldn't seem to get on top of him - I was hitting him with everything, he just doesn't stop and he's got that belief in himself again, I've not seen Gary Anderson like this for four or five years.\"