MICHAEL VAN GERWEN landed a brilliant ten 180s to begin his defence of the Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters title with a hard-fought 10-7 win over Peter Wright on Thursday, as Dave Chisnall, Gary Anderson and Phil Taylor also secured semi-final places.
Van Gerwen has been victorious in all three previous Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters events since the World Series of Darts was introduced in 2013, and he kicked off this year's tournament in a game of the highest quality against Wright in the unique outdoor arena.
Wright gave as good as he got during a thrilling contest, and led four times as the pair enjoyed a fine duel, but van Gerwen found an extra gear to reel off the final four legs without reply from 7-6 down.
After levelling with the aid of a 180, van Gerwen hit a stunning ten-darter to break and move ahead and fired in an 11-dart finish in the next leg before taking out 112 for victory.
Van Gerwen ended the match with an average above 107, while his ten 180s was double that of Wright, who averaged 106 in reply only to suffer defeat in a repeat of the 2014 final.
"Peter put me massively under pressure and I'm delighted to have produced a performance like this, because I really had to," said van Gerwen, who now meets Chisnall in the semi-finals.
"Peter was in great form and he played really well. I'm glad I played that little bit better in the end and it gives me fantastic confidence for tomorrow.
"Dave's a fantastic player and he did really well tonight and he's capable of doing really good things. I've got to enjoy this moment and make sure I do it again tomorrow. I feel good and I feel confident and I really want to win this title again."
Chisnall took out finishes of 130, 110 and 105 and checked out ten doubles from 18 attempts in his impressive 10-1 defeat of Adrian Lewis, as last year's Auckland Darts Masters champion lost out in the quarter-finals.
"I'm happy with that," said Chisnall. "My finishing took me through - I wish I could finish like that when I'm playing indoors!
"Adrian will be disappointed but I took my chances a little bit better than him. My form has been great since I came out of the Premier League and even if it was indoors tonight I probably would have played quite well."
World Champion Gary Anderson impressed with a heavy-scoring display as he defeated Raymond van Barneveld 10-8, hitting 24 scores of 140 or better and two 180s as he overcame the Dutchman after opting to use heavier darts than usual to combat any air movement on the open-air stage at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium.
Anderson a turned the game around with five straight legs to move from 3-2 down to lead 7-3, and though van Barneveld threatened a fightback, a 12-dart finish from the Scot secured his semi-final spot.
"It was good," said Anderson, who now meets Taylor in the last four. "Even at 3-2 down I was enjoying it. I came with a heavier set of darts and I'm happy with the way they were going - although a few of them curved off that double 13 near the end.
"I thought I'd try a heavier set - I play with 23 gram darts and these were 25 gram and they went alright, I was happy with them. My 180s weren't there but there were lots of 140s and I'm happy."
Taylor, meanwhile, took out finishes of 170 and 110 in successive legs at a key moment in mid-game as he defeated James Wade 10-2, book-ending the performance with 13-darters, hitting three 180s and taking the final six legs without reply.
"Getting the win was the important thing and I've done that, but I think I played quite steady darts, I was solid and I can improve on that," said Taylor. "The 170 was perfect and the 110 finish was great too.
"I thought James, at 4-1 down, was up against it but he's one of those players you can't relax against and even at 8-2 I thought he was going to come back so I had to get the job done."
The Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters concludes on Friday with the semi-finals and final at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium. Tickets are available via www.dubai-darts.com.
2016 Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters
Thursday May 26
Adrian Lewis (4) 1-10 Dave Chisnall
Phil Taylor (3) 10-2 James Wade
Gary Anderson (2) 10-8 Raymond van Barneveld
Michael van Gerwen (1) 10-7 Peter Wright
Best of 19 legs
Friday May 27 (8pm local time)
Michael van Gerwen v Dave Chisnall
Gary Anderson v Phil Taylor
Best of 21 legs
van Gerwen/Chisnall v Anderson/Taylor
Best of 21 legs
Adrian Lewis v Dave Chisnall
0-1 - Chisnall takes out 130 on double five to make a superb opening as the pair get to grips with the outdoor conditions.
0-2 - Chisnall breaks throw immediately by landing double five.
1-2 - Both players initially miss darts at doubles before Lewis lands tops to claim his first leg of the contest.
1-3 - Chisnall takes out 78 on tops to regain breathing space.
1-4 - Lewis misses double top and ten, and Chisnall this time takes out 110 on double 18 to move three legs clear.
1-5 - Chisnall lands his third ton-plus checkout of the game as he finishes 105 to win a third successive leg.
1-6 - Chisnall initially misses double 14 to take out 148, but returns to hit the bed as he opens a five-leg lead.
1-7 - Chisnall's fine finishing continues with a two-dart 85 finish.
1-8 - Chisnall takes out 72 on the bull to move two legs away from victory with a sixth successive leg.
1-9 - Chisnall's charge continues as he punishes Lewis for one miss at tops by taking out 76 in two darts on double eight.
1-10 - Chisnall seals victory with double six as he takes out ten doubles from 18 attempts in an impressive display of finishing to book a semi-final place.
Phil Taylor v James Wade
1-0 - Taylor starts superbly, landing a 180 before finishing double four for a 13-darter to claim the opening leg.
2-0 - Wade misses four darts at doubles, and Taylor capitalises by finishing 65 on tops to break throw.
3-0 - A second 180 of the game gives Taylor the breathing space to initially miss two darts at doubles before returning on double eight.
3-1 - Wade gets off the mark with his first leg, courtesy of double five.
4-1 - Both players initially miss a dart at tops, with Taylor returning to land double ten to restore his cushion.
4-2 - Wade finishes 40 as he claims his second leg.
5-2 - Double 12 allows Taylor to regain a three-leg lead.
6-2 - Taylor takes out a stunning 170 checkout to delight the Dubai crowd.
7-2 - Taylor hits his third maximum before finishing 110 on tops to extend his lead to five legs.
8-2 - Double ten gives Taylor a fourth successive leg.
9-2 - Wade misses double eight and four, and Taylor capitalises with a third-dart double 16 to move a leg away from victory.
10-2 - Taylor seals victory with tops for a 13-darter as last year's beaten finalist moves into the last four.
Gary Anderson v Raymond van Barneveld
1-0 - van Barneveld opens with 180 and 140 but misses a dart at tops, and Anderson follows two 140s by taking out 76 on double four.
2-0 - Anderson finishes 25 to double his lead.
2-1 - van Barneveld again begins a leg with a 180 before finishing tops to hit back.
2-2 - The Dutchman levels on double nine, after Anderson misses double six.
2-3 - Double 18 sees van Barneveld win a third successive leg to move in front.
3-3 - Anderson takes out 97 in two darts to hit back and level.
4-3 - The World Champion finishes 56 to move back in front.
5-3 - Anderson takes out 31 to regain a two-leg lead.
6-3 - van Barneveld misses double 12 to finish 97, allowing Anderson back from two earlier missed doubles to finish double one.
7-3 - The Dutchman kicks off the leg with his third 180, but double four for Anderson sees him claim a fifth straight leg.
7-4 - van Barneveld's fourth 180 is followed by Anderson's first maximum, before the Dutchman lands double nine to respond with his first leg in six.
8-4 - Double 12 sees Anderson edge towards a semi-final spot.
8-5 - Anderson's missed doubles across two visits are punished as van Barneveld hits double ten with his third dart.
8-6 - van Barneveld opens with a 174 score and adds two 140s before double 16 completes a superb 11-darter, the best leg of the night so far.
9-6 - Anderson steadies any nerves by taking out 71 on tops to move a leg away from victory.
9-7 - van Barneveld keeps his hopes alive by finishing 84 on the bull.
9-8 - Anderson misses four match darts at double 13, and van Barneveld returns from three misses to post double four and continue his challenge.
10-8 - The World Champion finally seals victory with a sparkling 12-darter, hitting a second 180 before finishing 86 on double 16.
Michael van Gerwen v Peter Wright
0-1 - Wright hits the first 180 before finishing double 16 for a 13-darter to make a perfect start.
1-1 - van Gerwen finishes 70 on double eight to level.
2-1 - The reigning champion opens with a 180 before taking out 121 on the bull to break.
2-2 - Wright breaks back to level, with the pair trading 180s before the Scot takes out 96 on double eight.
2-3 - Wright lands tops as he moves back ahead.
3-3 - van Gerwen hits a 180 and double top as he responds to level.
4-3 - The Dutchman repeats the feat with a maximum and tops to break and move ahead.
4-4 - Wright lands his third 180 before finishing 81 on double six to break back and square a high-quality game.
4-5 - Wright pulls clear before landing double 18 to regain the lead, with van Gerwen's fifth 180 of the game coming too late to save the leg.
5-5 - van Gerwen's sixth 180 of the game helps him to level once again.
5-6 - Both players trade 180s before Wright posts tops to edge back in front.
6-6 - Wright lands a fifth 180, but misses the bull to take out 124 as van Gerwen steps in on double 18 to level.
6-7 - van Gerwen hits an eighth maximum, but misses double five to finish 87 and Wright takes out 96 for a 14-darter to regain the lead.
7-7 - van Gerwen's ninth 180 is followed by double top to see the reigning champion respond.
8-7 - van Gerwen breaks throw in brilliant fashion with a scintillating ten-dart finish, scoring 140, 180 and 165 before pinning double eight to regain the lead.
9-7 - van Gerwen moves a leg away from victory with a superb 11-dart leg, hitting three 140s before taking out 81.
10-7 - Wright wires double eight to finish 96, and van Gerwen seals the triumph in style with a 112 checkout.