GREAT rivals Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen will clash in the bwin Grand Slam of Darts semi-finals following their brilliant victories over Daryl Gurney and Rob Cross at the Wolves Civic on Saturday.
Six-time champion Taylor's bid to claim a seventh, and farewell, triumph in the Grand Slam of Darts continued with a 16-4 quarter-final romp against world number four Gurney.
The World Grand Prix champion was aiming to claim his first-ever victory over the 16-time World Champion, but saw Taylor finish 67 percent of his darts at a double and average 104 in a ruthless display.
Gurney opened the game with a 115 finish, but Taylor finished 68 and 58 to move ahead and 115 to open up a 3-1 lead.
The Northern Irish ace hit back to level after eight legs, but an incredible surge from Taylor saw him claim 12 successive legs in a relentless charge into the last four.
The run began with double 12 to break throw before he took out 73, 126, 64 and 81 to gain breathing space, followed a 13-darter with a 132 checkout and then punished four missed doubles from Gurney to create a 13-4 cushion.
Taylor then fired in a fourth ton-plus checkout of the game, with a 137 combination, and took out 84 to lead 15-4 before wrapping up a comprehensive win with the aid of a seventh 180 and tops.
"I'm delighted to be through and I can get ready for Sunday now," said Taylor. "My finishing was brilliant tonight - I put him under pressure and that was the intention.
"I thought I might give him a game because he's younger, he's fresher and at the minute he's probably playing better than I am. I did a couple of good finishes there against him and put him under pressure.
"It won't do him any harm, he needs to learn. He needs to re-evaluate what he's doing, re-evaluate his career.
"He's a cracking player and if I managed him he would win everything because he's one hell of a dart player, but his attitude is wrong. He needs to enjoy it more."
The night's second quarter-final proved highly dramatic and tense as newcomer Cross pushed Van Gerwen all the way for 22 legs before the reigning champion pulled clear to complete a 16-13 win.
Despite Van Gerwen opening the contest with 180 and 177 as he landed six perfect darts, Cross took out 127 for a 12-darter to break throw immediately and then took out 112 to move 2-0 up.
Van Gerwen stormed back to level before an 11-darter moved the Dutchman 3-2 up, and the next nine legs went with throw as the players maintained ton-plus averages to remain locked at seven-all.
Cross, though, produced an outstanding 131 checkout to break throw in leg 15, before finishing double four to move 9-7 up, only for Van Gerwen to claim a break back in leg 20 to square the game once more.
The next two were shared before finishes of 122 on the bull and 108 to break gave Van Gerwen a two-leg gap once more, before double four created a 14-11 cushion.
Cross hit back to win his 12th leg, but Van Gerwen landed two 180s to his rival's one as a 12-darter moved him 15-12 up and, though the Englishman responded with a 72 finish, a pair of missed doubles in the next allowed the world number one to seal victory with a 110 checkout.
"I'm really happy with this win," said Van Gerwen. "I played really well at the beginning of the game and I think he also played a phenomenal game.
"I can do better and I will need to tomorrow. I don't want to let myself down and tomorrow is going to be a big game and I want to beat Phil. It's one of the last chances and I want to take it with two hands.
"Phil doesn't have anything to lose. I'm the favourite and I have to do it, but I know I can handle the pressure and I've handled it for the last three years so why not now.
"He's the greatest who ever played and I've got a lot of respect for that man, but not tomorrow. I want to perform well - I don't want to give him a finger because he takes your hand."
Sunday afternoon's other semi-final will see Scottish pair Peter Wright and Gary Anderson - the players ranked second and third in the world - clash for a spot in the final.
The tournament then concludes with the final in Sunday's evening session, where a £110,000 top prize is on offer.
Tickets for the bwin Grand Slam of Darts are available through www.wolvescivic.co.uk or by calling 0870 320 7000.
2017 bwin Grand Slam of Darts
Sunday November 19
Afternoon Session (1pm)
Peter Wright v Gary Anderson
Michael van Gerwen v Phil Taylor
Evening Session (7pm)
Van Gerwen/Taylor v Wright/Anderson