World Matchplay: Anderson to meet Van den Bergh in final as dream debut resumes for Belgian
Dimitri Van den Bergh’s dream Betfred World Matchplay debut continued as he reached his maiden major final, setting up a clash with former champion Gary Anderson.
Anderson and Michael Smith contested 34 legs in just 70 minutes as ‘The Flying Scotsman’ came out on top 18-16 to reach his second Matchplay final in three years.
The pair shared the opening exchanges as Anderson held throw to edge ahead 3-2 at the first interval.
Anderson dominated the second mini session, breaking Smith twice to take a commanding 7-3 lead heading into the second interval.
Anderson then held to take a five-leg lead, but Smith bounced back, winning the next three legs to close the gap.
The Scotsman then nailed a 12-dart leg to regain the advantage, but he couldn’t shake Smith off as the St Helens man pinned double 10 to restore parity at nine apiece.
Smith’s comeback galvanised Anderson as the two-time world champion began to once again seize control of a topsy-turvy contest.
A majestic 128 checkout to go 12-9 up looked to have broken Smith as Anderson then inflicted more damage, taking advantage as his opponent began to miss crucial doubles to open up a five-leg lead for the second time in the match.
For the second time Smith hauled himself off the canvas to claim five consecutive legs as he constructed a slender 15-14 lead.
Anderson’s doubles had deserted him as Smith had the darts as he threw for a place in his first Matchplay final, but a stunning 116 outshot under pressure saw Anderson level and send the tie into overtime.
Even behind closed doors the Matchplay has been full of exceptional drama but this was the kind of match that missed a crowd, with Smith twice clawing back a five-leg deficit before a mesmerising 116 from Anderson – on the brink of defeat – you can only imagine the explosive atmosphere as this thrilling semi-final needed extra legs.
The pair exchanged legs as Anderson regained his lead at 16-15, before Smith levelled, though, Anderson held before breaking the throw of his opponent to reach his second World Matchplay final.
“To win it would be fantastic – to get my name on that trophy again would be special,” Anderson told pdc.tv following his win.
“I got a good lead and let him in. Michael will be gutted – his scoring wasn’t quite up there tonight and he was struggling a little bit.
“It was great up to a point for me and I felt like I had it done and dusted but then it went wrong – I was struggling to get my darts up but I plodded on and pinched it at the end.
“I’m fighting myself and it’s driving me nuts. I had all the time off last year and then I was just getting into it again and we went into lockdown.
“I want to get my game back to where I know it should be and I’m expecting to play like I used to but it’s not happening for me at the moment. I’m playing nowhere near what I should be.”
Meanwhile, Van den Bergh became the first Matchplay debutant since James Wade in 2006 to reach the final. Known as ‘The Dream Maker’, the dancing Belgian is now only one win away from realising his own dream and clinching a maiden major honour.
Both men showed their intent from the off, hitting a maximum each with their very first throw. ‘Duzza’ then settled the better, taking out an incredible 151 to hold throw, followed by a 14-dart break to double his advantage.
Van den Bergh subsequently broke his duck to pull on back, missing the bull for a 170, Dimitri was a relieved man after Durrant missed double 16 for a 108 checkout.
Durrant pressed home his advantage with an 11-dart break, averaging an impressive 108. Van den Bergh then broke the Durrant throw as he clung onto the Middlesbrough man’s coat tails to remain only one behind at the second interval.
Despite only being a leg down it wasn’t until leg six that Van den Bergh finally held throw as he levelled at three each.
From there, Van den Bergh didn’t look back, gaining momentum as he won the next mini session 4-1 to lead 6-4 and, despite Durrant holding his throw after the break, Van den Bergh won the next three legs, including another break, to take a 9-5 lead.
At this point three-time world champion Durrant still had aims of reaching a maiden Matchplay final on just his second appearance as he battled back.
‘Duzza’ won the next three legs to go within one of Van den Bergh’s lead, but blew a huge opportunity to level as he missed two darts at double 18, with Van den Bergh proceeding to regain a two-leg advantage.
The Belgian then broke Durrant, before holding his own throw to take a four-leg lead into the final interval.
‘Duzza’ returned from the commercial break with a crucial hold in 13 darts, prior to a break a piece leaving Van den Bergh needing just three legs for victory.
This only startled Durrant as he then reeled off four straight legs to hit the front since the fifth legs of the match, with Van den Bergh then levelling before the pair shared legs to restore parity.
Famed more for his pre-match dance moves than his darting success, Van den Bergh snatched a huge break of throw to move on the brink of the final, with Durrant failing to take out 121 despite dominating the leg.
The Belgian held his throw to set up a final clash with Anderson, condemning Durrant to a fourth consecutive semi-final defeat since securing his tour card at Qualifying School last January.
“It’s incredible – I don’t think I realise what I’ve done yet,” Van den Bergh told pdc.tv. “I kept digging in and I did the job when I had to do it at the end.
“I know Glen so well so I was nervous right to the end because you expect him to step up at any moment. Tonight he gave me opportunities and those little moments are the ones where I step in.
“I’m so proud to be in the final, but I want to win it now. I’m in the final for a reason and if I manage to win, it will not be an upset.
“It’s because I’ve worked hard for it and kept digging in and believing in myself. Tomorrow I will need to be on top of it from the start to the end.
“I think it will work for me that Gary is a fast player because I’ve played other fast players this week. I’ll be ready and I think I have a big chance to be one of those winners who everyone remembers.”
The 2020 World Matchplay comes to its conclusion on Sunday evening as Anderson and Van den Bergh contest an intriguing final.
Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes
Saturday July 25
Gary Anderson 18-16 Michael Smith
Dimitri Van den Bergh 17-15 Glen Durrant
Sunday July 26 (8.30pm)
Gary Anderson v Dimitri Van den Bergh
(Featured Image: Lawrence Lustig/PDC)