Simon Whitlock produced the greatest comeback in the history of the European Championship as he came from 9-3 down to defeat Jamie Caven and remain on course to retain his title, as Michael van Gerwen, Adrian Lewis and Ronny Huybrechts joined him in the semi-finals in Muelheim.

2013 European ChampionshipReigning champion Whitlock looked set to crash out in the quarter-finals as in-form Caven raced into leads of 5-1 and 9-3 in their clash.

The Derby ace took five successive legs after Whitlock kicked off the game with a 104 finish, and a 114 finish was followed by a second 11-darter of the game as Caven moved to the brink of victory.

Whitlock, though, took the next three legs, including a 134 checkout, to pull back to 9-6 before Caven missed a match dart at tops to finish 110, allowing the Australian to continue his fightback.

The charge continued as he took a sixth successive leg to force the game into a decider, in which both showed nerves – Caven being first to a finish but unable to take out 114 as Whitlock stepped up needing 146, and he brilliantly hit two treble 19s and double 16 to joyously complete an amazing comeback win.

“I don’t know how I did it!” said Whitlock. “I’m not going to give up this title easily and all I could think when I was 9-3 down was to never give up, keep trying and take each leg one by one.

“I thought immediately of when Andy Hamilton came back to beat me in the World Matchplay two years ago, and I wanted this to be the time that I did something like that.

“Jamie played superbly but he lost some momentum at the end when the game started to go my way, and I just kept plugging away.

“It means so much to me and I have to keep believing – I believe I can win this title again tonight.”

Whitlock will now meet Belgium’s Ronny Huybrechts in the opening semi-final on Sunday evening, before potentially taking on either Michael van Gerwen or Adrian Lewis – the world’s number two and three – in the final to battle for the £50,000 first prize.

Huybrechts – who knocked out World Champion Phil Taylor on Saturday night in the second round – won through to his first major ranking semi-final in similarly dramatic circumstances as he edged out Robert Thornton 10-9.

The pair shared the first six legs before Huybrechts took a break to move 6-3 up, only for Thornton to hit back and level at seven-all.

The Scot, though, could never forge ahead as the game progressed to a decider, and when Thornton missed the bull to take out 72, Huybrechts pounced to hit double five and move into the last four.

“I thought that I’d blown my chance in the last leg, so I’m very lucky to get through,” he admitted. “I’m so glad that the double five finally went in – I think I just closed my eyes and threw the dart!

“After beating Phil Taylor I didn’t sleep well but I had to focus on this game and it was difficult for me, but I did it. Nobody expected me to beat Phil, but if you can beat the world number one, then the rest are all the same.

“It’s all new for me, but I hope I can continue this in the semi-finals and I’m looking to enjoy the experience.

The other semi-final sees van Gerwen and Lewis clash after they produced superb performances to win their respective last eight contests with Jelle Klaasen and Andy Hamilton.

Van Gerwen landed seven 180s, finishes of 136 and 124 and averaged 104.77 in a 10-7 victory over Klaasen in their all-Dutch encounter, with the resurgent former Lakeside Champion also hitting two ton-plus finishes and five maximums in reply.

“It was a big game for me and I’m very happy,” said van Gerwen. “I played very well and it was a quality game – Jelle played very well too but I showed that I was the best player on the day.

“I had a great performance in the second round and I want to keep that going tonight. I’m full of confidence and it would be great to win this title.”

Two-time World Champion Lewis, meanwhile, won his all-Stoke battle with Hamilton 10-3 to move into the semi-finals of the European Championship for a third time in six years.

Lewis took the game’s first four legs to assume command and also hit a 135 finish in moving 7-1 up, before Hamilton – aided by a pair of 180s and a 106 checkout – hit back to trail 8-3.

Lewis, though, hit his fourth 13-darter of the game to regain command before landing a fifth maximum and tops to seal the win, ending the game with a 102.57 average.

“I’m very pleased with that,” said Lewis. “I was never comfortable and it was a tough game.

“I started really well and even though I was cruising at one point, you can never write off Andy Hamilton so I’m happy I got it wrapped up when I did.

“I’m playing well and it would top off the last couple of months of good form for me if I can go on and win this title now, but I’m focusing on the semi-final with Michael and I know that if I play my best game, I can beat him.”

The semi-finals on Sunday evening will be followed by the final of the £200,000 tournament at the RWE Sporthalle in Muelheim, Germany.

Coverage of the semi-finals and final is live on ITV4 from 8pm BST (9pm local time), as well as worldwide through www.LIVEPDC.TV, on RTL7 in the Netherlands, Sport1 in Germany, Fox Sports in Australia and through Sky New Zealand.

2013 European Championship Quarter-Final Results

Sunday July 7
Afternoon Session

Ronny Huybrechts 10-9 Robert Thornton
Simon Whitlock 10-9 Jamie Caven
Michael van Gerwen 10-7 Jelle Klaasen
Andy Hamilton 3-10 Adrian Lewis

Evening Session
9pm-12am Local Time (8pm-11pm UK Time)
Ronny Huybrechts v Simon Whitlock
Michael van Gerwen v Adrian Lewis
Best of 21 legs

Huybrechts/Whitlock v van Gerwen/Lewis
Best of 21 legs

Match Information
Ronny Huybrechts v Robert Thornton
1-0 – Huybrechts makes a confident start, hitting scores of 140 and 177 in his first two visits to the oche before posting double eight with his third dart to win the leg.
1-1 – Huybrechts lands a 180, but misses tops for a 145 finish and four further darts at doubles to allow Thornton in to level on tops.
2-1 – Huybrechts holds throw on double 16.
2-2 – The Belgian lands another maximum, but Thornton finishes 86 on the bull to level again.
3-2 – Thornton misses the bull for a 121 finish, and Huybrechts takes out 80 to avert a break of throw.
3-3 – The Scot takes out 46 on tops to square the contest.
4-3 – Huybrechts hits his third 180 of the game before taking out 40 for another hold of throw.
5-3 – Huybrechts misses the bull for a 161 finish, which had seen him hit treble 19 and treble 18 earlier in the combination, before returning to hit double eight to break throw for the first time.
6-3 – Thornton opens with a 180, but Huybrechts lands a 174 and takes out 63 on double 16 to put daylight between the pair.
6-4 – Thornton kicks off with his second maximum of the game, and he finishes 68 on double four for a 14-darter to hit back.
6-5 – Thornton breaks for the first time by landing double 12.
6-6 – The Scot levels the match, initially missing three darts to win the leg before returning to hit double five to restore parity.
7-6 – Huybrechts stops Thornton’s charge with a superb 12-darter, hitting a 180 and double six.
7-7 – Thornton lands a maximum, but Huybrechts replies with a 171 as he looks to break throw, only to miss the bull for a 130 finish as the Scot returns to finish 62 on tops.
8-7 – Double nine sees Huybrechts edge back ahead.
8-8 – Thornton lands a 171 to leave 24, and posts double 12 for a 13-darter to square matters – effectively turning the game into a best of three leg contest.
9-8 – Thornton kicks off the leg with a 180, but Huybrechts hits double ten to move a leg away from the win.
9-9 – Thornton finishes double nine to send the game into a decider.
10-9 – Silence descends upon the RWE Sporthalle as the pair continue to battle in the deciding leg, with Huybrechts hitting two tons to leave 60. The Belgian misses double ten and five to take the win, but Thornton misses the bull to take out 72 and Huybrechts returns to hit double five to claim another dramatic win.

Simon Whitlock v Jamie Caven
1-0 – The reigning champion wins the opening leg with a 104 finish.
1-1 – Caven takes out 79 on tops to level.
1-2 – Caven opens with a 180, and when Whitlock wires tops for a 120 finish, the Derby ace steps in on double eight.
1-3 – Caven moves two legs clear by finishing double eight again.
1-4 – A second break of throw comes with a showpiece 100 finish of single 20 and two double tops.
1-5 – Double nine sees Caven win a fifth straight leg.
2-5 – Whitlock finishes double 18 at the fourth time of asking to win his second let of the game.
2-6 – Caven kicks off with two 180s, and though his hopes of a nine-darter are ended, he wins the leg in 11 darts with a 76 finish.
3-6 – Whitlock misses double 19 for a 114 finish, but Caven is unable to land tops and the Australian pins double eight to hit back.
3-7 – Caven opens with his fourth 180 of the game, and takes out 58 on tops to win his seventh leg of the contest.
3-8 – Caven finishes 114 on tops to break throw again.
3-9 – Caven throws a 180 to leave 90, and finishes an 11-darter with a bullseye, double top combination.
4-9 – Whitlock keeps his hopes alive by finishing 20.
5-9 – The reigning champion continues his fightback by landing his first 180 of the game and double four for a 14-darter.
6-9 – Whitlock adds another 180 and takes out 134 with a superb combination of two treble 17s and double 16 to win a third successive leg.
7-9 – Caven wires double top for a 110 finish to take victory, and Whitlock hits the bed to reduce the gap to two legs.
8-9 – Whitlock hits double ten to win his fifth successive leg and bring the German crowd to its feet as the comeback continues.
9-9 – Incredibly, Whitlock forces a deciding leg, scoring 140, 140 and 137 before finishing double 16 for a 13-dart finish.
10-9 – WOW! Caven is first to a finish, leaving 56 only to see Whitlock take out 146 in amazing fashion to complete a sensational comeback.

Michael van Gerwen v Jelle Klaasen
1-0 – van Gerwen opens the game with a 180, and finishes double 18 to break throw immediately after Klaasen misses one dart to lead.
2-0 – The world number two doubles his lead by pinning tops for a 13-darter.
2-1 – Klaasen finishes 64 to get off the mark.
3-1 – van Gerwen takes out 136 to win his third leg with a 12-darter – having hit the same finish twice in his second round win.
4-1 – van Gerwen hits a 165 score to leave 40, and when Klaasen misses a dart at double 18, he completes another 13-darter to lead by three legs.
4-2 – Klaasen replies by finishing 100 with single 20 and two double tops.
4-3 – Klaasen takes out 70 to pull back to one leg behind.
5-3 – van Gerwen lands his second 180 and finishes tops for another 13-darter to regain his cushion.
6-3 – van Gerwen posts double ten to win his sixth leg of the game, and for the first time takes 15 darts to win a leg, with his average remaining at 111.
6-4 – Both players leave 81 after nine darts – with Klaasen landing his first 180 of the game and van Gerwen hitting three 140s – before both miss the bullseye, but misses at double eight and four from the world number two allow the former Lakeside Champion back in to hit double six to stay in touch.
6-5 – van Gerwen hits another maximum, but misses darts at double eight and four to finish 73 to allow Klaasen back in on tops.
7-5 – The pair trade 180s before van Gerwen takes out 124 on double 11.
7-6 – Both players again trade 180s before Klaasen takes out 120 to pull back to one leg behind once more.
8-6 – For a third successive legs the players trade maximums, but Klaasen misses two darts at double 18 to level, and van Gerwen makes him pay on tops.
9-6 – Klaasen hits a fifth 180 of the game, but van Gerwen misses the bull for a 170 finish before returning to land double six to move a leg away from the semi-finals.
9-7 – Klaasen lands double 18 to keep his hopes alive in the game.
10-7 – van Gerwen hits his seventh 180 of the game, but misses the bull to take out 124 and two further darts at double 12, only for Klaasen to miss double 18 to stay in the hunt, and van Gerwen lands double three with his final dart to claim his semi-final place.

Andy Hamilton v Adrian Lewis
0-1 – Lewis kicks off the game with a 180, and when Hamilton misses tops he steps in to land double eight to take the opener.
0-2 – Hamilton lands a maximum, but Lewis takes out a 13-darter on double 12.
0-3 – Hamilton misses his chance to get off the mark, and Lewis pounces on tops.
0-4 – Lewis finishes 96 to win a fourth successive leg.
1-4 – Hamilton hits a 180 and double ten for a 13-darter to win his opening leg.
1-5 – Lewis finishes 70 to regain his cushion.
1-6 – Lewis takes out 135 on the bull to pull clear.
1-7 – The two-time World Champion hits a second 180 and double ten to move six legs ahead of his opponent.
2-7 – Hamilton hits two 180s but misses double nine to allow Lewis a chance at a 170 finish, but the youngster misses the bull for the highest checkout to allow Hamilton back in on double four.
2-8 – Lewis lands a 180 and tops for another 13-dart finish.
3-8 – Hamilton takes out 86 on double 16 to win his third leg of the game.
3-9 – Lewis lands a fourth 180 and double 12 to move to the brink of victory.
3-10 – Lewis hits a fifth maximum, and takes out tops for a 14-darter to move into the semi-finals, where he meets Michael van Gerwen.

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