PHIL TAYLOR survived a scare from Adrian Gray before booking his place in the semi-finals of the PartyPoker.net Las Vegas Desert Classic.

Taylor was knocked out of last year’s SkyBet World Grand Prix by Gray, and the youngster threatened another upset when he took a 3-1 lead.

However, Taylor found an extra gear to reel off ten of the next 11 legs and move into the semis.

“I didn’t kick into gear early on and wasn’t hitting my doubles,” said Taylor. “I was a bit on edge but I relaxed and got through.”

Taylor meets Roland Scholten on Sunday in his bid for a fourth Desert Classic title, with the Dutchman booking his semi-final place with an 11-2 win over under-par Mervyn King.

World number three James Wade included a 170 checkout in his 11-7 win over Andy Hamilton, and will meet Peter Manley – who overcame Alan Tabern 11-8 – in the last four.

Wade is bidding for a fourth major title and a second successive televised victory, following last month’s Blue Square UK Open win.

Sunday’s play will see the semi-finals and final played at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, with the winner taking home £20,000.

PartyPoker.net Las Vegas Desert Classic VII
Quarter-Finals
Roland Scholten 11-2 Mervyn King
Phil Taylor 11-4 Adrian Gray
James Wade 11-7 Andy Hamilton
Peter Manley 11-8 Alan Tabern

Semi-Finals (Sunday, 10.30am start)
Phil Taylor v Roland Scholten
Peter Manley v James Wade
Best of 21 legs
Followed by
Final
Best of 25 legs

ROLAND SCHOLTEN 11-2 MERVYN KING

ROLAND SCHOLTEN powered into the semi-finals of the PartyPoker.net Las Vegas Desert Classic with an 11-2 rout of Mervyn King.

The Dutchman was never in trouble against King, who followed up a superb second round display – where he hit six 180s and three ton-plus checkouts to defeat Darin Young – with a disappointing showing.

Scholten took the opening leg before King levelled, although seven missed doubles before he landed double ten was an indication of the struggle the Englishman would face.

Scholten took the next seven legs without reply, with King failing to find his range on the trebles as the Dutch ace took full advantage, including a 97 finish.

King landed double 18 to hit back in leg ten, but a sparking 11-darter from Scholten restored his cushion.

He then took out double four to move a leg away from the win, and put King out of his misery on double 16.

“It was never easy, even though the scoreline looked that way,” said Scholten. “Mervyn never gives up, but he didn’t perform today.

“I had to focus on my own game and I did that, and I can look forward to the semi-finals now.”

PHIL TAYLOR 11-4 ADRIAN GRAY

PHIL TAYLOR survived a scare against Adrian Gray before booking his place in the semi-finals of the PartyPoker.net Las Vegas Desert Classic with an 11-4 victory.

Gray threatened a repeat of his victory over Taylor in last year’s SkyBet World Grand Prix when he took a 3-1 lead against the three-time Desert Classic winner.

However, Taylor hit back to lead 4-3 and then won seven successive legs to storm to victory.

Gray took the game’s first two legs, with a 159 score setting up a double 16 finish in the opener before he took advantage of three misses from Taylor in the second.

Gray also had a chance to lead 3-0, but missed double 18 before Taylor landed double ten to get off the mark.

The 27-year-old from Sussex found double 18 to take leg four, but Taylor took the next three to edge in front, with Gray missing two darts at a double in the sixth.

Double ten saw Gray level again at four-all, but Taylor found another gear to pull away, finding his range on the treble 20 to fire maximums in three successive legs.

A 14-darter put him 5-4 up, and he followed that with a 104 finish to leave Gray reeling, and three more legs saw him take a 9-4 advantage.

Gray then missed double eight to hit back as Taylor moved a leg away from the win, and he booked his semi-final berth on double one.

“Adrian played really well,” said Taylor. “He started superbly and was consistent early on.

“I didn’t kick into gear early on and wasn’t hitting my doubles. I was a bit on edge but I relaxed and got through.”

Taylor was full of praise for Gray, who battled through the qualifiers at Mandalay Bay earlier this week before enjoying his best run at the Desert Classic to reach the last eight.

“I’m a big fan of Adrian’s,” said Taylor. “He’s very dedicated, works hard at his game and looks after himself. That will benefit him in the future.”

JAMES WADE 11-7 ANDY HAMILTON

JAMES WADE held off the challenge of Andy Hamilton to win a place in the semi-finals of the PartyPoker.net Las Vegas Desert Classic with an 11-7 victory.

The world number three looked set to cruise to victory when he took a 10-4 lead, only for Hamilton to threaten a comeback when he took three successive legs before Wade closed out the win.

Wade kicked off the game with a 170 finish and led 2-0 before Hamilton won the next three to lead.

Wade, though, found another gear to win the next five without reply, punishing Hamilton with some clinical finishing, twice hitting double top and also plucking out two tricky double six checkouts.

Hamilton took advantage when Wade missed a double-double top in leg 11, but three more legs from Wade, including a bullseye finish, took him to the brink of victory.

Stoke star Hamilton replied with a 135 finish and continued his fightback with two more legs to leave Wade nervous.

But missed doubles in the next allowed Wade his shot for victory, and he landed double top to progress.

“I thought I was in a lot of trouble towards the end,” admitted Wade. “Andy let me off a lot of shots early in the game but came back well and I’m just glad to be through!”

PETER MANLEY 11-8 ALAN TABERN

PETER MANLEY ended Alan Tabern’s hopes of a first major title with an 11-8 quarter-final victory in the PartyPoker.net Las Vegas Desert Classic.

Tabern had knocked out defending champion Raymond van Barneveld in the second round on Friday, but paid for missed doubles as Manley marched into the last four.

The first half of a scrappy contest saw both players struggle with their finishing, with Manley taking a 5-1 advantage early on.

Tabern pegged him back to 5-4, including a 13-darter, and eventually levelled at six-all as both players’ double troubles continued.

A 120 “Shanghai” finish sparked Manley back into life, and he added a 13-darter and checkouts of 161 and 118 in taking a 10-7 cushion.

Tabern replied in 14 darts to stay in the game, but another missed double came back to haunt him in the next as Manley took out double top for the win.

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