World Matchplay: Smith denies Ratajski as Anderson also seals spot in semi-finals

Michael Smith denied Poland’s Krzysztof Ratajski to progress to the semi-finals of the Betfred World Matchplay, while Gary Anderson also prevailed on Thursday evening.

Smith placed memories of a final defeat at the hands of Rob Cross last time around towards the back of his mind as he completed a hard-fought victory over a resilient Ratajski.

Former World Championship finalist Smith capitalised on a slow start from his Polish opponent, completing legs of 12 and 13 darts to immediately steal the throw, before Ratajski won two of the next three to gain a foothold with a terrific 128 checkout on the bullseye.

Smith subsequently reinstated his two-leg advantage following the interval, only for the Pole to hold his nerve on the outer ring and clinch back-to-back legs to restore parity at four apiece.

The pair then shared 15-darters, before a mediocre leg from Smith allowed Warsaw’s Ratajski to break throw and lead for the first time at 6-5 in a closely contested clash.

Smith responded with his fourth maximum and promptly broke back, prior to holding throw to regain pole position entering the halfway stage of a Matchplay classic.

Ratajski similarly held throw to level up proceedings at seven apiece, before converting a mesmerising 161 outshot whilst Smith was sat on a two-dart combination checkout to regain his slender advantage.

Smith then claimed two legs in succession and threatened the nine-darter to move in front once again, only for the reigning Gibraltar Darts Trophy champion to execute another spellbinding checkout (139) to reinstate the match’s stalemate status.

‘Bully Boy’ proceeded to punish unusual missed darts at double from Ratajski, prior to reeling off four consecutive legs to create a five-leg gap between him and his dogged opponent.

‘The Polish Eagle’ responded with three in succession, though, the advantage constructed by a stunning Smith proved simply too much to handle as last year’s finalist claimed two of the next three legs to seal the deal.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself but today I proved I can handle it against a really classy player,” said Smith.

“The main aim was to reach the quarter-finals, but I’ve come to win it now. I want another crack at the title.

“I want this so bad, maybe too much sometimes but I know once I get that first one like MvG did, the wins will start to flow.”

Anderson reached the Matchplay semi-finals for just the second time (Photography: Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

Meanwhile, Anderson scheduled a semi-final encounter with his good friend and former management stablemate after completing a 16-12 victory over Whitlock.

‘The Flying Scotsman’ raced out of blocks, fabricating a 4-1 advantage prior to the first interval, though, Michael van Gerwen’s conquerer Whitlock responded with his first maximum and an 11-darter.

The subsequent five legs went the way of throw as Anderson extended his lead to 7-4, before Whitlock converted checkouts of 108 and 120 whilst showcasing admirable board management to move within one of his Scottish opponent.

Former champion Anderson continued to be the brighter of the pair as he reeled off three in succession to create a four-leg gap between him and the Australian.

Whitlock’s expertise in the finishing department continued to keep his hopes intact as the former European Championship winner pinned outshots of 80 and 114 to halve the deficit.

Anderson’s advantage soon diminished as sloppiness from the Somerset man handed Whitlock back-to-back legs and restored parity at ten apiece.

Anderson, who defeated fellow former winner James Wade beforehand, soon enough regained control of the contest courtesy of successive 14-darters, only for Whitlock to bounce back once again with another bullseye finish and legs of 13 and 15 darts.

The two-time world champion then reeled off four consecutive legs to book his place in the last four, progressing with nine maximums and an improved 98.09 average.

“I’ve made hard work of that tonight but that’s what Simon can do to you. He battles and makes you work for it so it was a slog to get it done,” Anderson said.

“Hopefully I’m sat here on Sunday with a trophy but I’m taking it one game at a time, and it’s going to be another tough fight against Michael Smith on Saturday.

“He’s got a good record against me recently and is playing some brilliant darts. I’ve been saying how good he is for years and although it’s a bit late, he’s finally starting to come through to the top.”

The World Matchplay resumes on Friday evening as three-time world champion Glen Durrant takes on a resurgent Vincent van der Voort and former finalist Adrian Lewis faces debutant Dimitri Van den Bergh.

WORLD MATCHPLAY


Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes

Thursday July 23
Quarter-Finals

Michael Smith 16-13 Krzysztof Ratajski
Gary Anderson 16-12 Simon Whitlock

Friday July 24 (7pm)
Quarter-Finals

Adrian Lewis v Dimitri Van den Bergh
Glen Durrant v Vincent van der Voort


(Featured Image: Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

About The Author

Ben Hudd Ben is a dedicated sports writer and aspiring sports journalist, covering all aspects of darts for the ever-growing Darts Planet TV. He has a passion for sport, particularly darts, cricket and football.

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