Raymond van Barneveld stormed into the semi-finals of the Ladbrokes World Championship with a fine 5-1 triumph over Simon Whitlock on Friday evening.
van Barneveld, who won the Grand Slam of Darts last month ending a five year wait for a major title, remains on course to be crowned World Champion for a sixth time after another awesome display.
‘Barney’ hit nine 180s and averaged over 102 en route to victory, as he set up a last four clash with either Phil Taylor or Andy Hamilton.
“I am a different van Barneveld now,” said the 2007 winner, who last reached the semi-final stage three years ago.
“Simon has a good record against me and he is a top class player and gentleman but I have been different since I started believing in myself again a couple of months ago.
“I’ve just been playing the board and believing in my own ability rather than worrying about what my opponent can do.
“It is working. I won the Grand Slam and I’m in the last four here and I believe that I can go all the way.”
‘Barney’ grabbed a break of throw in the opening leg but ‘The Wizard’ hit back immediately with a brilliant 116 finish.
The Dutchman, who hit 180s in each of the first three legs, moved back in front and went on to seal the first set, despite Whitlock hitting two maximums in the final leg.
van Barneveld doubled his advantage as finishes of 86, 135 and 20 gave him a second set whitewash.
But Whitlock produced a brilliant 11 darter in the opening leg of set three, which he edged 3-2, as he upped his maximum count to seven.
The Australian’s eighth and ninth 180s came in the first leg of the fourth set, as he broke the ‘Barney’ throw.
The five-time World Champion produced a clinical 112 checkout to break straight back, before going on to take the set 3-2 with a neat 86 checkout on the bull.
Whitlock edged ahead in the fifth set but his tenth 180 was in vain as van Barneveld took out 86 to level.
‘Barney’ bedded his sixth maximum before Whitlock pegged double ten to regain his advantage in the set.
But the Dutch star fired in another fine checkout, this time 70 to level before his seventh maximum gave him a four set to one lead.
Fantastic finishes of 74 and 91 took van Barneveld within a leg of victory, after winning two legs in which both players hit maximums.
And he moved into the last four by bedding 32 to ensure he will return to action on semi-final night, which takes place on Sunday.
By Chris Murphy