Grand Slam of Darts 2020: Simon Whitlock stuns Michael van Gerwen to reach semi-final

Simon Whitlock won a last-leg decider to dump Michael van Gerwen out of the Grand Slam of Darts amid a barrage of 180s and eight missed match darts from the world No 1.

On a day that featured 121 legs out of a possible 124, it was the final one of the night in the last quarter-final of the day that produced remarkable drama as Van Gerwen missed eight match darts and Whitlock pinned double eight to continue a sensational run against the world No 1.

Whitlock fired a new Grand Slam record of 20 maximums as he hauled himself back from the brink, winning the last three legs to reach the last four and end Van Gerwen’s bid for a fourth Grand Slam crown – just as he had ended the Dutchman’s World Matchplay and World Grand Prix title hopes.

The Wizard will face Jose De Sousa, who shocked Michael Smith in another thriller, in the last four. James Wade, who saw off Damon Heta, takes on Dimitri Van den Bergh, who edged out Nathan Aspinall in a last-leg decider, in the other semi-final.

  • Grand Slam of Darts 2020: Results, draw and schedule

Sunday’s Quarter-Final results

Wizard stuns Van Gerwen in last-leg drama

Simon Whitlock booked a place in a first Grand Slam semi-final with an astonishing 16-15 win over Michael van Gerwen.

Van Gerwen had looked to be advancing into the last four for the fifth straight year when he opened up a three-leg advantage midway through the contest, defying a spectacular display of maximum hitting from The Wizard to stay in front.

But Whitlock has been inspired against MVG of late, and he was again as he hauled himself back into the back at 12-12 before seeing Van Gerwen roll back the years with a timely 146 finish for a 15-13 lead that looked to have ended the Aussie’s challenge.

However, Van Gerwen failed to find another dart at double, missing three to win 16-13, and then missing five to win the decider where Whitlock pounced to conjure a victory that leaves him in prime position to add another major to his 2012 European Championship.

Whitlock will face tournament debutant De Sousa as he looks to back up his win over MVG, who will be left to reflect on missed chances that leave him still with just one televised title to his name this season – the UK Open in March.

De Sousa pips Smith in cracker

Jose De Sousa continued his dream debut at the Grand Slam with a thrilling 16-14 victory over Michael Smith to advance to a semi-final showdown with Whitlock.

In the biggest game of his career, De Sousa started fast, withstood a fierce comeback and then held his nerve to leave Smith frustrated and still waiting for a maiden televised title, while the dream remains alive for ‘The Special One’.

The pair fired in 22 maximums and missed 64 darts at double in a see-saw contest which kicked off Sunday’s quarter-finals, but missed darts from Smith in the final two legs allowed De Sousa to clinch the biggest win of his career so far.

Did you know?

Jose De Sousa is the first debutant to reach the Grand Slam semi-finals since Mark Walsh in 2011

The Portuguese thrower had never featured in a contest over this distance, but, aided by Smith’s early struggles on the doubles and more surprisingly the 180-count, he forged into an 8-2 lead to stand halfway towards the finish line.

Having taken until the 10th leg to find his first maximum, Smith put his foot down and a barrage of 180s launched his comeback with a blistering five-leg burst which included two legs that saw him twice go six darts of the way to a nine-dart finish.

Smith hit the front for the first time at 10-9 when he took the 19th leg against the De Sousa throw, but to De Sousa’s credit he refused to wilt and broke back himself.

When the pair split the next eight legs, including the first three-figure finish of the match landed by Smith, it was effectively a best-of-three contest and when Smith missed chances, The Special One wrapped up a memorable win.

Monday’s Semi-Finals – Order of play

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Dreammaker stays on course for another major

Dimitri Van den Bergh continued his winning run against Nathan Aspinall but only after a last-leg decider handed him a date with James Wade in the last four.

The Belgian has enjoyed a stunning year, culminating in his first major title at the World Matchplay in July, a tournament that he started with a first-round success over The Asp.

Having also beaten the world No 6 in the group stage this week, he added a third high-profile win in the last few months against the same opponent. He stays on course for another huge title as well as ending The Asp’s dreams less than 24 hours after he had ended the reign of Gerwyn Price.

Aspinall was first to strike, landing a 12-dart break of throw for a 3-1 lead, the first of eight consecutive breaks of throw that had Van den Bergh within one, but could so easily have had Aspinall four of five legs clear.

Instead, Van den Bergh was to find himself level with the first hold of throw since the third leg, but the Belgian was operating 10 points below his tournament average and Aspinall was out to take advantage.

The man from Stockport dug deep to find the crucial burst that looked to have broken the Dreammaker’s spirit. A three-leg took him into a 9-6 lead, berating himself with a cry of ‘wake up’ when he took the second of them.

Van den Bergh is a major champion and showed all of those qualities to produce a stunning burst of his own. Finishes of 110 and 130 were the highlights of a run that took him from 10-7 down and into a 14-12 lead.

A topsy turvy encounter still had drama to unfold as Aspinall claimed the next three legs in 13, 18 and 14 darts to stand within one of a maiden Grand Slam semi-final. But Van den Bergh showed poise of his own to first level and then leave 36 after 12 darts against the throw in the decider, pinning his favour double 18 to seal a spot in the last four.

Wade holds off Heta to reach last four

James Wade needed every ounce of his experience to see off debutant Damon Heta with a 16-13 victory which saw both men take out three huge finishes, average more than 100 for much of the match and hit more than 50 per cent of their darts at double.

In the end, it was ‘The Machine’ who held his nerve, holding off Heta’s relentless comeback by winning the last three legs of the match to seal a semi-final showdown with Van den Bergh

Playing in his first major televised quarter-final, Heta’s inexperience showed early on as Wade powered to the opening four legs without allowing the Australian a dart at a double. Having got on the board in the fifth, Heta grew into the contest and edged the second session to stay in touch as both players found the outer ring with ruthless efficiency in a compelling contest.

Wade was proving a tough man for Heta to hunt down, finishes of 152 and 101 underlining The Machine’s confidence before a break of throw took him four clear again at 10-6.

Rather than cower, Heta rose to the challenge, winning four of the next five legs and firing back-to-back 100+ finishes on his way to drawing within one at 11-10, as close as he had been throughout the match.

Heta pinned a classy 101 finish to level the match for the first time at 13 apiece but Wade was unfazed, claiming the next three legs to keep his title hopes alive.

Wade has twice come close at the Grand Slam, and is a self-confessed admirer of the longer format, and a 101 average underlined his title credentials as he reached the last four for the first time since 2016 and just the second time in the last 10 years.

Don’t miss a dart from the Grand Slam of Darts on Sky Sports as the action continues on Monday with all four quarter-finals – join us 7pm on Sky Sports Mix and follow us @SkySportsDarts for updates and clips throughout the tournament.

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