World Championship Semi-Finals

MICHAEL VAN GERWEN and Michael Smith will meet in the final of the 2018/19 William Hill World Darts Championship after claiming semi-final victories on Sunday at London's Alexandra Palace.

The penultimate day of the £2.5 million event saw dazzling performances from Van Gerwen and Smith, who recorded wins over Gary Anderson and Nathan Aspinall respectively.

A replay of the 2018 Premier League Final, Tuesday's showdown will be the first World Championship final since 1983 to feature two players under 30 years of age, with the winner walking away with the £500,000 top prize and the Sid Waddell Trophy.
Van Gerwen secured a thumping 6-1 success over Anderson in a replay of the 2016/17 final which saw two-time World Champions collide.

A dominant display from world number one Van Gerwen began with him finding double top in the deciding leg of the opening set to edge ahead, before the Dutchman won 12 of the next 13 legs to take a 5-0 lead in a relentless onslaught.

Anderson found double 12 with his last dart in the deciding leg of set six to prevent a whitewash, only for Premier League champion Van Gerwen to take the next set 3-1, taking out 90 to secure a stunning victory.
"I think I played really well, Gary couldn't find his form and I took advantage of that," said Van Gerwen, who ended the tie with a 104.76 average.

"The pressure I put on Gary meant he wasn't at his best, I didn't give him any time to breathe with my finishing.

"It's going to be a phenomenal final against Michael and myself, I've got a great record against him and I'm looking forward to it.

"I'm working hard week after week, so I'm glad that I was able to produce my best game on this occasion."
Smith reached his first World Championship final with a 6-3 triumph over surprise package Aspinall, breaking the record for the most 180s hit in a World Championship semi-final in the process with 17 maximums.

A stunning display from Smith, who ended the match with a 105.22 average, began with him taking the opening seven legs of the contest, before debutant Aspinall produced a gutsy fightback to level at 2-2 and 3-3.

World number ten Smith checked out 90 on the bullseye to regain the lead and he doubled his advantage thanks to back-to-back 12-dart legs in the eighth set.

The Shanghai Darts Master didn't drop another leg and sealed a memorable win with a 121 checkout, his fifth ton-plus finish of a high-quality showing.
"I've never felt like that during or after a match, I couldn't be happier right now," said Smith, whose previous best World Championship performance saw him reach a quarter-final.

"The first two sets I was cruising, but fair play to Nathan, he got better and better but I took my chances when they came which gave me the edge.

"I think the seventh set was the crucial moment because I felt I was going to win after I went 4-3 up. I was so nervous and I nearly made a mess of it, but I'm so glad that I held it together and got the job done.

"I'm now just one step away from living my dream."

The William Hill World Darts Championship Final will take place from 2000(GMT) on Tuesday January 1, and will be broadcast live on the dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel and worldwide through the PDC's international broadcast partners.

Photos by Lawrence Lustig.