CLINICAL TAYLOR OUSTS NICHOLSON IN GERMANY

PHIL TAYLOR’S bid for a fourth European Championship title remains on track as he beat Paul Nicholson 10-8 in the quarter-finals of the PartyPoker.net European Championship in Dusseldorf on Sunday afternoon.

The hotly anticipated game swung both ways and looked likely to head to a final-leg shoot-out at 7-7, but the World number one moved away from Nicholson with a 129 checkout, a 13-dart leg and a 138 checkout to seal the win.

“Every time you play Paul it’s like a final, he gets the best out of you,” said Taylor. “It was a good atmosphere and a hard fought match, really nip and tuck and not the best scoring but very exciting – and it was great to finish on the 138.”

“There was massive tension out there, one of the best atmosphere’s I’ve ever played in and I felt tremendous,” said Nicholson – who led 3-0 after a fast start. “I played pretty well today but at times my first dart just wasn’t good enough and you cannot afford any slack darts against Phil. He was the better player today, no question.”

Taylor will face Simon Whitlock in Sunday evening’s semi-finals after the Australian beat Peter Wright 10-6. Whitlock was pegged back to 3-3 from 3-1 ahead, but a 124 checkout topped off a 12-darter in the ninth leg to make it 6-3 to the Australian.

Wright rallied once more to take the tenth leg and then edged a scrappy 11th leg to trail by one, but again, Whitlock found a second gear and record his third burst of three straight legs, starting with a 121 checkout in the 12th leg. A slight stutter came as Whitlock missed four darts for the match to allow Wright a sixth leg, but a 90 checkout in the 16th leg saw him home.

“I played Peter in Blackpool and he was good there so I knew he was going to be tough,” said Whitlock. “The crowd are great, very fair with all the players. Peter kept coming at me but I managed to hold him off.”

World Champion Adrian Lewis survived a scare from surprise package Kim Huybrechts – winning 10-8 after the young Belgian responded from being 5-0 down to push Lewis all the way in the opening quarter-final.

The Stoke ace opened up with a 12-dart leg and fired three 180s and a 100 checkout as he took the first five legs and threatened to whitewash Huybrechts but the Belgian registered got on the board in the sixth leg, and took two of the next three to close the gap to Lewis.

A 126 checkout from Huybrechts in the 11th leg raised his hopes of a stirring comeback, reducing the gap to three legs, and followed that with a 14-dart leg to put the pressure on the World number two.

Lewis’ lead at 8-6 was a slender one and he had a heart in the mouth moment as Huybrechts missed the bull for an 85 checkout in the 15th leg. The Belgian kept the game alive with a 13-dart leg and then put the cat amongst the pigeons with a 122 checkout for a 12-dart leg on the Lewis throw. But two visits of 140 and a maximum from Jackpot put Huybrechts under pressure and it told – Lewis missed his first darts for the match but Huybrechts stuttered on his two darts to take it to a decider and Lewis closed the match out on double five.

“It was squeaky bum time out there,” said Lewis. “He really fired in some big scores and was enjoying it. There was big pressure at the end and if it had gone 9-9 the momentum was with Kim. If he keeps playing like that he’ll be knocking on the door of the top 16 in no time.”

Lewis meets Raymond van Barneveld in the first semi-final after the Dutchman saw off James Wade with a 10-8 victory.

Van Barneveld signalled his intent in the fourth leg with a brilliant 167 checkout, but Wade responded with a 121 checkout in the sixth leg to level at 3-3. The Dutchman threatened to run away with the match as he strung three 14-dart legs together from there and a 13-darter made it 7-4.

Wade hit a purple patch of 180s with four in four legs from the 10th leg, but was unable to break the Van Barneveld throw until the Dutchman had already moves to within one of the match. Wade’s break was in vain thought as Van Barneveld repeated the trick on him with a 15-dart leg and a 72 checkout to take the match.

“Facing Adrian is always a challenge but I’m very pleased with the way I’m playing,” said Van Barneveld. It’s always 50-50 against the top eight and James beat me last week, now I’ve beaten him, the standard is that high.”

The semi-finals of the PartyPoker.net European Championship begin at 8pm local time and are live on ITV4.

Quarter-final results
Adrian Lewis 10-8 Kim Huybrechts
Raymond van Barneveld 10-8 James Wade
Phil Taylor 10-7 Paul Nicholson
Simon Whitlock 10-6 Peter Wright

Semi-finals – 8pm
Adrian Lewis v Raymond van Barneveld
Phil Taylor v Simon Whitlock

ADRIAN LEWIS v KIM HUYBRECHTS
1-0 Lewis into the groove straight away – first 180 of the match and an 84 checkout.
2-0 Huybrechts misses three darts for the leg, Lewis lets him off but when the Belgian comes back for double ten, he busts in double 15 and Lewis pinches from miles behind
3-0 Lewis takes out a ton on double ten.
4-0 Tops at the second attempt for 4-0 to the World Champion
5-0 Third 180 from Lewis, but Huybrechts is first at a double, misses double 16 for a 110 checkout and Lewis hits tops again for a clean sweep at the break.
5-1 Chance for Huybrechts and he takes it, 68 checkout on double 16 to get on the scoreboard.
6-1 Normal service resumed by Lewis with a hold of throw.
6-2 Lewis misses the bull for the eighth leg, Huybrechts takes out 80.
6-3 Huybrechts picks the perfect time for his first 180, he then misses double 12 for a 141 checkout, Lewis misses tops for a 110, and Huybrechts breaks the Lewis throw.
7-3 Lewis breaks straight back with a 13-darter.
7-4 Great 126 checkout on the bull for Huybrechts.
7-5 The pair trade maximums, Huybrechts sets up tops for another leg, Lewis misses double 16 for a 143 and Huybrechts nabs it on double ten
8-5 Lewis stops the Huybrechts comeback with a solid hold.
8-6 Lewis misses the bull for a 121, Huybrechts takes out 78.
9-6 Huybrechts misses the bull for an 85 checkout, Lewis sweating on that shot, but he returns for double ten to move to within one leg of victory.
9-7 13 dart leg for Huybrechts to keep it alive
9-8 Huybrechts takes the darts, but Lewis hits back with a 180 – Huybrechts has 122 and takes it out on double seven for a break.
10-8 Crucial 180 from Lewis to leave 41, Huybrechts on 170 hits the first treble but no more. Lewis misses two at tops, Huybrechts misses two at double 12 and Lewis misses two at double ten but hits double five for the match.

RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD v JAMES WADE
1-0 First 180 of the match for Van Barneveld with a 12-darter
1-1 Double ten for a hold for Wade
1-2 Bad time for a bounce out for Wade but Van Barneveld can’t hit a treble to pressure Wade who breaks the throw on double 12
2-2 Van Barneveld answers in style though with a 167 checkout
3-2 Van Barneveld lifted by that checkout takes the fifth leg after Wade missed a double to edge ahead.
3-3 A 121 from Wade brings him back to parity.
4-3 Van Barneveld misses two at double eight for the leg, but switches over and nails double four to take it.
5-3 Second 177 from Van Barneveld and follows with a 180, he misses two at double 16 – Wade lurking on 120, cannot hit it and Van Barneveld breaks the throw.
6-3 14 dart leg taken out on 80 from Van Barneveld
6-4 Big finish when he needed it – Wade takes out 107
7-4 Wade hits his first 180 but two 140s from Van Barneveld sees him in control and it’s a 13-dart leg for the Dutchman
7-5 Wade replies with a 13-dart leg of his own
8-5 Wade’s 180 is followed by another 177 from Van Barneveld, who misses his first at double 12 but hits it at the second time of asking.
8-6 Wade’s fourth 180, he misses tops for an 81 checkout but Van Barneveld is way back and Wade hits double ten for a 13-dart leg.
9-6 106 checkout from Van Barneveld
9-7 Van Barneveld has 144 for the match, can’t take it and Wade keeps the game alive.
9-8 Van Barneveld has six darts at 170 for the match, returns on 112 with Wade still not on a shot out and the Dutchman leaves 60 but misses two at tops. Wade on 56 – takes it to keep this one going to the wire.
10-8 Wade misses tops for a 99 checkout to level, Van Barneveld on 72, and he hits tops to meet Lewis in the semi-finals.

PHIL TAYLOR v PAUL NICHOLSON
0-1 Nicholson holds with a 107 checkout.
0-2 And The Asset fires in a 180 as he breaks the Taylor throw.
0-3 Fired up Nicholson needs just two darts for a 60 checkout.
1-3 Nicholson fires a second 180 to pressure the Taylor throw but The Power gets on the board.
2-3 Back-to-back 180s for Nicholson but two visits of 41 lets Taylor in – he leaves 111, and he takes it out on double 16.
3-3 Three in a row for Taylor, takes out 86 with his second dart at double 16
4-3 Taylor misses two darts at tops for a 65 checkout, Nicholson on 108 but cannot bite back and Taylor makes it four on the spin.
5-3 A 140 from Nicholson is his first score of note for a couple of legs but leaves himself 101, cannot take it and Taylor holds with a 51 checkout.
5-4 Nicholson takes out 100 with Taylor hot on his heels with 40 left.
6-4 12 dart leg from Taylor with a 177 thrown in and he is two legs ahead at the break with an 88 checkout.
6-5 Nicholson misses the bull for a 170 but comes back to reduce the deficit.
6-6 Nicholson’s fourth 180 has Taylor under pressure, but he hits his first 180. Nicholson misses double 18 for a 98 checkout, Taylor misses double 16 for a 63 checkout and Nicholson levels.
6-7 Pressure is on Nicholson and he responds with a 61 checkout on his final dart.
7-7 Second 180 from Taylor who holds with a 13-dart leg
8-7 A 177 from Taylor is followed by a 180 from Nicholson – and a 129 checkout from Taylor breaks the throw with Nicholson on a two-darter.
9-7 Taylor has six darts at 122, hits double 16 for a 13-darter
10-7 Nicholson misses a dart for a 130 checkout and Taylor makes him pay with a stunning 138 checkout to reach the second semi-final

SIMON WHITLOCK v PETER WRIGHT
0-1 Wright breaks in the opening leg.
1-1 Whitlock breaks straight back with an 80 checkout.
2-1 Whitlock breaks this time with his first dart at tops
3-1 The Australian gets a let off there, Wright misses three at tops to break and Whitlock takes out 108
3-2 Wright reduces the arrears before the break.
3-3 Whitlock’s second 180 comes in the sixth leg, Wright has the chance to level though with 96 – and he only uses two darts to do so.
4-3 Wright misses a double to edge ahead, and Whitlock takes 45 out to break
5-3 Wright races to the board to save his ton, Whitlock responds with his third 180 and takes out the 32 he left behind.
6-3 Brilliant 124 checkout from Whitlock that opens a three-leg gap.
6-4 A 180 from Wright, Whitlock misses the bull for a 121 and Wright stops the Whitlock streak.
6-5 The Australian misses two darts for the first leg back and Wright pounces.
7-5 Whitlock holds his throw to move two ahead again.
8-5 Whitlock’s sixth 180 comes in the 13th leg, he misses one dart for the leg, Wright misses the bull for a 70 checkout and Whitlock nails double seven to break.
9-5 Whitlock’s 140 leaves him 76 and he takes it on the bull.
9-6 The Australian has four chances to take the match but fluffs his lines, and Wright keeps the game alive.
10-6 A 180 from Wright leaves 81, he misses the bull, Whitlock has the 90 and he hits the bull to meet Phil Taylor in the semi-finals.

Source – PDC/Lawrence Lustig