TONY AYRES’ dream run in the Rileys Darts Zones UK Open continued as he won through to the semi-finals in Bolton, where he is joined by Gary Anderson, Denis Ovens and Phil Taylor.

Ayres, the world number 62, had won through to his first ever ranking quarter-final at the Reebok Stadium with four victories since Thursday night.

The Billingshurst-based star then knocked out 2008 champion James Wade to reach the semis, prevailing 10-9 in a brilliant encounter.

Ayres led 3-0 and 7-4 before Wade hit back to lead for the first time at 9-8, only to then miss three match darts as the newcomer to the big stage held his nerve with a sensational 152 finish before winning the decider in 13 darts.

“I don’t know what to say!” admitted Ayres. “I’ve done brilliantly this weekend and enjoyed it, and I’ve thrown the darts I know I can play.

“When James has darts at double top for the match you expect to be out, but he missed and I took my chance. I’m not scared of anyone at the moment and I can’t wait for the semi-finals.”

Ayres’ chance to prove that will come against Gary Anderson in Sunday evening’s semi-finals, after the Scot superbly defeated Andy Hamilton 10-6 with a 106.49 average.

Anderson also missed double 12 for a nine-dart finish during the game, having been on the receiving end of a perfect leg during his win over Mervyn King in the previous round.

The other semi-final sees reigning champion Phil Taylor face Denis Ovens, who won through to the last four of a televised event for the first time with a fine 10-3 rout of Wes Newton.

Ovens was in control from the opening leg and led 5-0 before wrapping up the win with a 101 average thanks in part to six 180s.

Taylor, meanwhile, swept aside Stoke rival Adrian Lewis 10-2 to reach the last four with an average of 108.52 and a clinical checkout ratio of 53 percent.

The quartet return on Sunday evening at 7pm to challenge for the £40,000 title in the semi-finals and final across one session.

Rileys Darts Zones UK Open
Quarter-Finals
Tony Ayres 10-9 James Wade
Gary Anderson 10-6 Andy Hamilton
Denis Ovens 10-3 Wes Newton
Phil Taylor 10-2 Adrian Lewis

Semi-Finals
Tony Ayres v Gary Anderson
Denis Ovens v Phil Taylor
Best of 19 legs

Followed by Final – best of 21 legs

TONY AYRES 10-9 JAMES WADE
TONY AYRES sealed a dramatic deciding leg victory over 2008 winner James Wade with a 13-darter to reach the semi-finals of the Rileys Darts Zones UK Open.

Ayres continued his best-ever run as a professional, following up his first quarter-final with a brilliant display to end the hopes of the world number three.

Ayres took a 3-0 lead in the game, and held his nerve after Wade hit back to lead 9-8 – taking out 152 to force a decider before romping away with the final leg.

“I don’t know what to say!” admitted Ayres. “I’ve done brilliantly this weekend and enjoyed it, and I’ve thrown the darts I know I can play.

“When James has darts at double top for the match you expect to be out, but he missed and I took my chance. I’m not scared of anyone at the moment and I can’t wait for the semi-finals.”

A brace of double top finishes gave Ayres, from Sussex, the opening two legs before a 78 finish gave the nerveless star the third leg.

A miss at double top allowed Wade in to get off the mark in the fourth, although an 84 finish put Ayres 4-1 up at the first break.

Wade landed a pair of 13-dart finishes to take two of the next three, but a missed double 12 allowed Ayres to move 6-3 up.

Double 18 gave Wade the tenth leg, but he missed two darts at a double to punish a miscount from Ayres as the Billingshurst man returned to take out 73 for a 7-4 advantage.

Wade replied with a 12-darter and a 101 finish to pull back to 7-6, but Ayres finished a 14-dart leg to move two legs away from the win.

With the pressure of a potential maiden ranking semi-final looming, Ayres missed five darts to win the 15th leg as Wade stepped in on double top to pull back to 8-7, and he landed the same bed to level.

Double ten from Wade put him ahead for the first time in the game, and he landed a 180 in taking the advantage in the next – only to miss three darts for the match before Ayres produced a stunning 152 finish to earn a decider.

Three ton-plus scores gave Ayres the advantage in the decider, and he held his nerve to take out double 18 for a 13-darter for the biggest win of his career.

GARY ANDERSON 10-6 ANDY HAMILTON
GARY ANDERSON produced a display of the highest order to win through to the semi-finals of the Rileys Darts Zones UK Open with a 10-6 defeat of Andy Hamilton.

The Scot missed double 12 for a nine-dart finish, a day after Mervyn King achieved the feat against him in the last 16, and averaged 106.49 to see off the challenge of Hamilton.

Anderson hit scores of 177 and 180 in the opening leg, which he took in 13 darts, before doubling his lead despite a maximum from Hamilton.

Hamilton took two of the next three to cut the gap to 3-2, before Anderson pulled clear with five successive legs, including a 106 finish, to take a six-leg lead.

Hamilton hit legs of 14 and 11 darts to pull back to 8-4, before Anderson kicked off the 13th leg with back-to-back 180s.

He then hit treble 20 and treble 19 but missed double 12 in his bid for a nine-dart finish, although he took the leg in 11 darts to move one away from the match.

Hamilton won the next two as Anderson stumbled at the finishing line, but the Scot took leg 16 with the aid of a seventh 180 and a 92 checkout to seal the win and set up a semi-final against Tony Ayres.

“I was going okay but lost my way a little bit towards the end and Andy made me nervous,” said Anderson. “I’m happy with the performance and I was pretty good on the doubles – apart from the nine-darter!

“I’ll look forward to the semi-finals now and it would be great to reach the final, but Tony is a lovely guy who goes about his business well, and he’s a cracking player.”

DENIS OVENS 10-3 WES NEWTON
DENIS OVENS won through to his first ever televised semi-final at the Rileys Darts Zones UK Open with a superb 10-3 defeat of Wes Newton.

Ovens produced arguably his finest performance in a major championship, averaging almost 101 and leaving Newton with little chance after winning the opening five legs without reply.

The Stevenage-based star took out 85 for the opening leg, and a 13-darter secured an immediate break of throw as he moved 2-0 up, and he hit a pair of maximums in legs four and five to create a five leg cushion

Newton took out 120 to get off the mark in the sixth leg, and also won the eighth to pull back to 6-2.

Ovens, though, hit two 180s in an 11-darter and then won the next two legs to move 9-2 up before double top gave Newton a glimmer of hope.

But Ovens produced a brilliant winning leg, landing two more 180s and double 16 to book his semi-final spot.

PHIL TAYLOR 10-2 ADRIAN LEWIS
PHIL TAYLOR’S charge towards a fourth Rileys Darts Zones UK Open title continued with a superb 10-2 defeat of Adrian Lewis in the quarter-finals at the Reebok Stadium.

Taylor, who hit a world record televised average on Saturday, set up a semi-final against Denis Ovens in thrilling fashion, maintaining his unbeaten record on the big stage against Lewis.

The world number one made a statement by taking the opening two legs in 14 and 12 darts and he also fired in a 180 in the third – although Lewis took out 96 to get off the mark.

The youngster, though, missed two darts to level in leg four, before his opponent landed double 14 to move 3-1 up – a lead which was swiftly extended to 6-1 with the aid of 180s in each of the next three legs.

Lewis landed a maximum of his own in taking the eighth and traded 180s with Taylor in the next, but a 12-darter from the World Champion gave him a 7-2 cushion.

Lewis saw two darts at double ten for the next leg land wide of the mark, with double ten putting Taylor two legs away from victory.

Taylor also landed double 16 for the 11th leg, after the pair again traded 180s, and landed a seventh maximum and a 100 finish in completing the rout.

“I love playing Adrian but it’s difficult because we’re pretty close friends and he maybe respects me too much,” said Taylor.

“He’s a really good player who will batter me one day – but he’s not doing it against me at the moment and he’s got a mental block there.”

Taylor now takes on Denis Ovens in the semi-finals, and added: “Denis has been there and thereabouts for years and he deserves to be in the semi-finals. He had a convincing win against Wes and is playing really well.”

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