PHIL TAYLOR and James Wade remain on course to clash in the PartyPoker.com World Grand Prix final on Sunday night, but have been joined in Saturday’s semis in Dublin by Brendan Dolan and Richie Burnett.

Taylor’s charge towards a tenth title in the double-start format continued as he swept past Mark Webster in straight sets in their quarter-final, dropping only three legs in the game.

Taylor averaged over 101 and, after taking out 101 to win the only set which went to a decider he secured the victory and a semi-final spot with a classy ten-darter and a 145 finish.

“I’m pleased with that and although I think there’s still more improvement in my game I’m happy to be in the semis,” said Taylor. “Mark played well but I kept him under pressure.”

Reigning champion Wade, meanwhile, overcame Andy Smith’s plucky challenge with a 4-2 victory – taking the final two sets 3-2 to remain on course for a third World Grand Prix win.

“Andy made me work hard,” said Wade. At times when I thought he was dead and buried he’d come up with a finish; he never gives up and kept coming back at me.

“I felt I was in control for most of the game but he is a great competitor and I made it hard for myself. I should have got the job done much quicker but to win was the aim and I’ve done that.”

Wade now takes on Northern Ireland’s Brendan Dolan, who won through to his first-ever major semi-final with a 4-1 defeat of Scotland’s John Henderson.

Henderson, appearing in his first PDC televised quarter-final, took the game’s opening set without reply but after Dolan levelled the Fermanagh ace took the next three 3-2 to progress.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” said Dolan. “I felt really good in the first set but maybe I was too comfortable and John made me pay, but I came back really well.

“I’d have never imagined I’d be in the semis when I qualified but I’ve done well this week and I’m delighted. The crowd were fantastic, they were really behind me and it was a great atmosphere.”

Resurgent Richie Burnett, meanwhile, reached his first major semi-final since 2001 with a fine 4-1 defeat of left-hander Mark Hylton.

Burnett followed up his wins over Gary Anderson and Denis Ovens with another display as the 1995 World Champion continued to roll back the years as he set up a semi-final with Taylor.

“I’m having a great time and playing good darts,” said Burnett. “I was probably more nervous than I’ve been in my life because people were expecting me to win but Mark’s been playing well and I knew that.

“Once I got my first set, I settled down and I’m over the moon to be in the semis. It’s a massive test against Phil and I’ll look forward to it.”

PartyPoker.com World Grand Prix
Quarter-Finals

Friday
Brendan Dolan 4-1 John Henderson
Andy Smith 2-4 James Wade
Phil Taylor 4-0 Mark Webster
Mark Hylton 1-4 Richie Burnett

Semi-Finals
Saturday 7pm
Brendan Dolan v James Wade
Phil Taylor v Richie Burnett
Best of nine sets

BRENDAN DOLAN 4-1 JOHN HENDERSON
(0-3, 3-0, 3-2, 3-2, 3-2)
BRENDAN DOLAN won through to his first major semi-final with a 4-1 defeat of Scotland’s John Henderson at the PartyPoker.com World Grand Prix on Friday night.

The Northern Ireland number one thrilled a capacity crowd at the New Citywest Convention Centre with the victory, as he came from a set down to take victory.

He will now meet reigning champion James Wade or Andy Smith in Saturday’s semi-finals as he continues the most successful week of his career.

Henderson had made a brilliant start to the final by winning the first set without reply, finishing double top in the first leg and hitting a 160 opening shot and a 101 checkout in the second, before double 16 gave him the lead.

Dolan, though, hit back well to regain the momentum in the second as he took three successive legs of his own, following up a double eight finish with checkouts of double top and 16.

He also posted double eight to lead for the first time in the game in the third set’s opener, although after sharing double 16 checkouts with Henderson in the next two he was punished for missing doubles in two visits as the Scot levelled the set on double ten.

Henderson, though, missed the bull for a 124 finish in the decider as well as two further darts for the set as Dolan took a key leg on double four.

The fourth set also went to a fifth leg, with a 105 checkout from Dolan in the third followed by Henderson hitting double seven to force a decider once more.

Henderson opened with a 160, but Dolan was first to a finish as he followed a 180 by setting up tops – only to miss two darts for the set and then be handed a reprieve when the Scot saw darts at double top and ten just miss their intended target, allowing the Northern Irishman to hit double ten.

Dolan posted a 180 to leave a 61 checkout as he led in the fifth, before Henderson fired in a superb 160 finish to level and double four to lead.

But double ten saw Dolan level the set and move a leg away from victory, before double 14 saw him delight the Citywest sell-out and claim the win.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” said Dolan. “I felt really good in the first set but maybe I was too comfortable and John made me pay, but I came back really well.

“I never thought I’d get through to the semi-final of the World Grand Prix, especially after the year I’ve had.

“I was so inconsistent but the blessing was when I didn’t qualify for the World Matchplay and European Championship in the summer, because I went away and analysed my throw and I’ve slowed my first dart down. It’s worked and I’m really happy.

“I’d have never imagined I’d be in the semis when I qualified but I’ve done well this week and I’m delighted. The crowd were fantastic, they were really behind me and it was a great atmosphere.”

Henderson said: “I’ve got no complaints. Brendan played well and took his chances, and although it’s disappointing to lose tonight I’ve had a brilliant week.

“Reaching the quarter-finals is a great achievement and hopefully one I can build on.”

JAMES WADE 4-2 ANDY SMITH
(3-1, 1-3, 3-0, 1-3, 2-3, 2-3)
JAMES WADE’S bid to retain the PartyPoker.com World Grand Prix continued with a gritty 4-2 quarter-final win over Andy Smith at the New Citywest Convention Centre on Friday night.

The world number three will now face Northern Ireland’s Brendan Dolan in Saturday’s semi-finals as he seeks to win a third title in the double-start.

However, he was pushed all the way by a plucky Smith performance, as the Studley ace twice came back from a set behind to level before being edged out 3-2 in the game’s final two sets.

Wade made an electric start by finishing 127 to win the opening leg, and after Smith levelled in the second the left-hander defied 180s from his opponent to take the next two legs and the first set.

Wade began the second with a 160 before taking the first leg, but Smith levelled and then powered in a brilliant 141 checkout on double 18 to break.

Smith then kicked off leg four with a 160, and hit tops to take the set 3-1 in reply and level the contest.

Smith’s doubling deserted him, though, in the third set’s opener as he missed three darts to lead, with Wade posting double ten to capitalise before hitting the same bed in the next two legs and move 2-1 up in the game.

A pair of double tops gave Smith the first two legs in set four, and after Wade took out double five in the third he replied to take the set with a 180 and an 82 finish as the tit-for-tat game continued.

Smith led for the first time with double four to take the fifth set’s opener, but despite a 180 in the next his advantage was short-lived as Wade hit double nine to level and double four to lead 2-1.

Smith took out tops to square the set in the fourth leg, but Wade opened with another 160 in the decider and finished double ten to edge the set.

Wade led in the sixth set courtest of double two, and hit the same bed in leg three after Smith had levelled matters with a fine second leg, which featured his fifth 180.

Smith landed double 18 with his third dart to win the fourth as Wade waited on 40 for the match, but after he missed the bull for a 170 to seal the win, a miss at double 16 from his opponent allowed the reigning champion to march on.

“Andy made me work hard,” said Wade. At times when I thought he was dead and buried he’d come up with a finish; he never gives up and kept coming back at me.

“I felt I was in control for most of the game but he is a great competitor and I made it hard for myself. I should have got the job done much quicker but to win was the aim and I’ve done that.

“I’m moving along under the radar – people like to talk about the Phil Taylor’s, the Adrian Lewis’ and Gary Anderson’s and I’m just going about my business.

“My starting has been brilliant but I’ve a bit of work to do with my finishing if I’m going to go all the way.

“But I’ve got to play Brendan Dolan – and the crowd – first on Saturday, which will be a great challenge.”

PHIL TAYLOR 4-0 MARK WEBSTER
(3-0, 3-2, 3-0, 3-1)
PHIL TAYLOR continued his ruthless charge towards a tenth PartyPoker.com World Grand Prix title with a straight sets defeat of Mark Webster in Friday’s quarter-finals.

The world number one dropped only three legs in a brilliant display as he avenged his loss to Webster in the sets format of the World Championship on New Year’s Day.

Taylor averaged over 101 and, after taking out 101 to win the only set which went to a decider he secured the victory and a semi-final spot with ten-darter and a classy 145 finish.

Double four gave Taylor the game’s first leg, and after Webster missed his chance in the second the Stoke great doubled his lead before taking the set with a 25 finish after missing the bull for a 170 checkout.

Taylor landed a 180 in the second set’s opener, but Webster got off the mark with a superb 141 checkout to win his first leg of the game.

Taylor levelled but Webster posted a 180 and double ten to lead 2-1 – only to see his opponent produce two killer touches in the next two, finishing a brace of double 16 finishes with the Welshman waiting on 45 and 44 respectively.

Taylor also hit double 16 to win the third set’s opener, and after Webster was unable to take his chance to level he took out double five in the second before defying a 180 from the left-hander to secure the set without reply on double six.

The world number one hit a maximum and double top to dent Webster’s hopes further in the fourth set, and he also won the second leg with a magnificent ten-darter – featuring scores of 160, 140 and 177 before landing double 12 – to move one away from the win.

Double top kept Webster in the game, but Taylor was swift to kill off any hope of a comeback with a stunning 145 checkout to seal the victory.

“I’m pleased with that and although I think there’s still more improvement in my game I’m happy to be in the semis,” said Taylor.

“Mark played well but the 101 to win the second set was a massive shot and it probably won me the game. I kept him under pressure after that and got the job done.”

RICHIE BURNETT 4-1 MARK HYLTON
(3-2, 2-3, 3-1, 3-0, 3-1)
RICHIE BURNETT reached his first major semi-final for a decade at the PartyPoker.com World Grand Prix with a 4-1 defeat of Mark Hylton.

The Welshman, a former Lakeside Champion, last reached the last four of a televised event in 2001 but confirmed his return to the sport’s elite with another fine display.

Burnett followed up his defeats of number four seed Gary Anderson and Denis Ovens with a clinical performance, hitting two 11-darters as he set up a semi-final with Phil Taylor at the New Citywest Convention Centre on Friday night.

Hylton, who had overcome Mark Walsh and Simon Whitlock to reach only his second major quarter-final, made an electric start to their contest by taking the opening two legs, including a 121 finish on the bull, to lead 2-0.

But Burnett stepped in to take the third before levelling in the next with a break of throw, before landing tops to secure the opening set.

He also took out a 107 finish to lead in the second, only for Hylton to win the next two on double ten and double two.

Burnett posted a fine 11-darter to level, but Hylton took the set 3-2 by hitting double ten once more.

Hylton set up double eight in the third set’s opener as he looked to continue the momentum, but was stopped in his tracks by a brilliant 122 bullseye finish from Burnett.

The left-hander finished 64 to level in the second, but Burnett’s accuracy on tops gave him the third before he punished three misses from Hylton to win the set on double 16.

Any hopes Hylton had of a comeback took a huge blow in the fourth set’s opening two legs as he missed the bullseye for a 121 finish twice, with Burnett checking out double four and a 74 kill to move 2-0 up.

The Welsh ace then opened the third with scores of 160 and 140 to pull clear, and nailed double four to take the set and a 3-1 lead in the game.

Finishes of double top and double 16 saw Burnett move 2-0 up in the next and although Hylton took out his second 12-darter of the game to stay in the contest, Burnett bettered that with another 11-dart leg to wrap up his semi-final spot.

“I’m having a great time and playing good darts,” said Burnett. “This has been coming for the last year and I just had to get that one step over the line and people have a different attitude towards playing you.

“I’m quite content with the way I’m playing and I’m showing that I’ve still got what it takes. When I’m getting chances I’m taking them and I can relax and go for it in the semis now.

“I’ve been hitting the important shots and I’ve got to concentrate like that in every leg from now on.

“I’ve got Phil Taylor on Saturday but that won’t matter. I don’t play the player and more, I play against the board and the scores that I see on the other side of it.

“It’s difficult to do, but when you can do it then it takes a bit of pressure off. It’s hard because you can sense the presence of the other player, but it can be done and I know I can beat anybody.

“I’m happy to be playing again at this level, I’ve got a few bucks in the bank now to take the pressure off and I’ll enjoy playing against Phil.”

Source – PDC/Lawrence Lustig