JAMES WADE and Simon Whitlock booked their place in the semi-finals of the StanJames.com World Matchplay with victories in the opening quarter-final clashes at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.

Wade, the 2007 champion, remains on course for a second World Matchplay title after defeating Wolverhampton battler Wayne Jones 16-12 in their last eight clash.

Wade held his nerve despite one of Jones’ finest televised performances to put himself into the semis, where he will meet Raymond van Barneveld or Co Stompe.

“It was an exceptionally hard game for me because Wayne has a good record against me and it was psychologically hard,” said Wade. “But there was a bit of the old James Wade there and it’s getting better.

“I made a break early on but didn’t kill him off as quickly as I could, but I know I’ve got three more gears to find yet.

“It would be amazing to win this tournament again and it’s about time I won another big title because it’s over a year, so we’ll see what happens this weekend.”

Whitlock, meanwhile, continued a successful World Matchplay debut by seeing off Holland’s Jelle Klaasen 16-8.

Klaasen hit four ton-plus finishes in the opening nine legs of the game, but Whitlock – playing on despite suffering from ‘flu – took command by winning nine in a row on his way to the win.

“My finishing was very good when I needed it to be and it was the important thing,” said Whitlock.

“I’m still feeling poorly with the ‘flu but hopefully after an early night and some rest I’ll be nearly recovered by the time I go on stage for the semis.”

Whitlock will meet either Phil Taylor or Kevin Painter in the semis, as the two old rivals lock horns in Friday night’s second quarter-final, following the all-Dutch affair between Stompe and van Barneveld.

StanJames.com World Matchplay
Quarter-Finals
Afternoon Session

James Wade 16-12 Wayne Jones
Jelle Klaasen 8-16 Simon Whitlock

Evening Session (7pm)
Co Stompe v Raymond van Barneveld
Kevin Painter v Phil Taylor

JAMES WADE 16-12 WAYNE JONES
JAMES WADE remains on course for a second StanJames.com World Matchplay title following a 16-12 quarter-final win over Wolverhampton battler Wayne Jones in Blackpool.

The 2007 Winter Gardens champion continued his improvement as the tournament progresses to see off Jones, who had won through to his first quarter-final in Blackpool and matched the number three seed blow for blow.

Wade will now meet Raymond van Barneveld or Co Stompe in Saturday’s semi-finals, as he bids to reach the final for the fourth time in five years.

Wade landed a 180 in taking the game’s opener, only for Jones to reply with a 13-darter and take out double 18 to break for a 2-0 lead.

Wade bettered that with a 121 finish for a 12-darter, and then won the next three legs to move into a 5-2 advantage, only for Jones to hit back with legs of 13, 14 and 14 darts to square the match.

The duo traded double top finishes in the next two before Wade again found an extra gear, defying a quartet of 180s from Jones to win four successive legs, twice punishing misses from the Wolverhampton man.

A double 16 finish from Jones ended that run, and was followed by finishes of 83 and 128 as he pulled back to 11-9, only to see Wade edge clear again, taking the next two legs to lead 13-9.

Jones replied with another double salvo, punishing missed doubles from Wade on double 18 and double eight, although double six moved Wade two legs away from the win at 14-11.

The former champion then produced his best leg of the game, an 11-darter, for a 15th leg, and after Jones posted double top to keep the match alive Wade hit the same bed to complete his victory.

“It was an exceptionally hard game for me because Wayne has a good record against me and it was psychologically hard,” said Wade. “But there was a bit of the old James Wade there and it’s getting better.

“I made a break early on but didn’t kill him off as quickly as I could, but I know I’ve got three more gears to find yet.

“It would be amazing to win this tournament again and it’s about time I won another big title because it’s over a year, so we’ll see what happens this weekend.”

Jones said: “I enjoyed the game, and James played well under pressure and deserved to win.

“I had two or three legs where I should have broken his throw and that cost me, and those two or three legs where I should have pressured him more were disappointing.

“I’m pleased I played well and I wasn’t out of it at any stage – even when I was two or three legs I was still in it but couldn’t quite get the breaks of throw.

“I said I’d need a 94 or 95 average to beat him and he had a 98 average so I’ve no complaints there.

“This week my performances have been more like they have been in the floor tournaments and that’s good. I did quite enjoy this game and all the matches this week and this was a decent game of darts.”

SIMON WHITLOCK 16-8 JELLE KLAASEN
SIMON WHITLOCK stormed into the StanJames.com World Matchplay semi-finals with a 16-8 defeat of Jelle Klaasen.

Klaasen held his own with some superb finishing in the early stages, but a run of nine successive legs from the Australian saw him streak away to victory at the Winter Gardens.

He will now meet either Phil Taylor or Kevin Painter as he bids to take the £100,000 title on his World Matchplay debut.

The World Championship runner-up could only watch as Klaasen took the first leg with a 115 finish, but responded well to win the next three, twice punishing missed doubles from the Dutch ace.

Klaasen regained his range with finishes of 132, on the bullseye, and 148 to level the march, only for Whitlock to hit 180s in the next two as a brace of double 18 finishes moved Whitlock 5-3 up.

A fourth ton-plus checkout from Klaasen, this time on 116, gave him the ninth leg, but he missed the bull for a 167 finish in the next as Whitlock hit double four for a 6-4 lead.

Whitlock landed a maximum in the next, only for Klaasen to reply with two of his own in a sparkling 11-darter as he cut the deficit to 6-5.

However, he lost his range on the doubles as Whitlock hit top gear to pull clear, taking nine successive legs to move out to a leg away from the win at 15-5 – including a 114 checkout, a 13-darter and a 14-dart finish.

Klaasen took out double four to end that run before then punishing missed match darts from Whitlock to win the next two and pull back to 15-8.

However, three ton-plus scores from Whitlock pushed him clear in the next and he posted double 16 to wrap up victory.

“Jelle started well but I tried to get a big break on him and it worked out for me,” said Whitlock. “His finishing was great early on but he didn’t keep that up and it was the difference.

“My finishing was very good when I needed it to be and it was the important thing.

“I’m still feeling poorly with the ‘flu but I enjoyed the game a lot more than in the second round and feel a little bit better, and hopefully after an early night and some rest I’ll be nearly recovered by the time I go on stage for the semis.”

Klaasen admitted: “It was close early on but after that every time I missed a double he hit his, and his checking out was superb.

“If he’d not finished as well as he did it could have been a different story because I had a lot of chances but didn’t take them. He fully deserved to win and was the better player.

“I tried something different in this game, I tried to slow down and it felt good. I’m always trying to improve my game and I’ve tried something new on stage now, and I played well.”

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