Rob Cross produced one of the greatest darting comebacks ever seen at the Winter Gardens as he came from 14-7 down to beat Daryl Gurney 17-15 and make the World Matchplay final for the first time.
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Only eight players have previously won the World Matchplay, given Phil Taylor's dominance in the event that now has his name on the winning trophy, but there will be a new name carved out on Sunday with a final being contested between two players well used to playing in big finals recently.
Cross is a former world champion, who has also been in the Premier League and UK Open final, while Smith, who was our Chris Hammer's pre-tournament tip, was the beaten World Championship finalist this year and has also appeared in the Premier League finale - and he'll be hoping it's third time lucky in Blackpool on Sunday
Cross completes greatest comeback
Cross won 11 out of the last 12 legs, and nine on the spin, to come from nowhere and stun Gurney, who looked in cruise control with Cross seemingly unable to do anything as his scoring and finishing was woeful.
Gurney hit 15 180s to Cross' seven, while Cross won the battle in the averages with 97.01 to 92.46 but they fail to even begin to describe the match or explain how Cross managed to find some of his very best darts when at one stage he looked lost up on the big stage.
2018 world champion Cross' epic comeback put him in his first World Matchplay final when a victory will see him win his first title since August 2018, but also land the second biggest prize behind the worlds and complete two-thirds of the Triple Crown on just his third year on the PDC Tour.
Finishing was, as ever, crucial to the contest, with Gurney hitting just 15 of his 53 attempts (28%) at the outer ring, while Cross's overall stats were better but not great at 17/46 (36.9%) - but the difference was Cross missed a boatload of doubles at the start of the match and crucially hit almost everything during his late winning run.
Voltage started the match well enough, reeling off three straight ton-plus finishes to lead 3-1, but his game fell apart after that as Gurney started to run away with it.
Cross could not buy a 180 in the first half of the match, as he only found his first maximum in the 16th leg as he made two perfect visits to set up a possible nine-darter – but still lost that leg to slip 11-5 behind.
Gurney was solid if not spectacular, as he heavy scoring kept him continually in front of his opponent despite some dodgy doubling at times from the Northern Irishman.
As Cross started to finally win a few legs, Gurney was missing tops regularly but there seemed little panic until 15-9 suddenly became 15-12 when another three Gurney darts at tops failed to hit their mark.
“I don’t think I deserved it,” said Cross. “Daryl was the better player but I’ll take that and hope to play better in the final.
“I wasn’t right to be honest with you, so I need to get right and be better for the final. But the crowd really helped me tonight, they pulled me through when I couldn’t seem to find anything for whatever reason.
“But tomorrow is a different day, I’m a grafter and put the work in and I’m sure I’ll be alright.”
Smith makes another major final
Only eight players have reached the final of the World Championship, Premier League and World Matchplay before, and now Michael Smith joins their ranks after a dominant 17-10 victory over Glen Durrant.
Durrant has been incredible both this week in Blackpool and during his short stint in the PDC, but it was not his night as Smith produced a wonderful display with an average of just over 100 and a 50 percent checkout rate.
From the very start it was Smith who was forcing the pace, as he flew into a 6-1 lead after five 180s and just one missed double in an opening salvo that was always going to be too much for Durrant to claw back.
There was just a hint of a wobble when Durrant managed to drag himself back into contention by trailing just 12-8, but Smith had enough to respond again and in the end it was a comfortable and commanding performance from the St Helens man who is chasing the first major his talent deserves.
After losing out in the Premier League and World Championship final, Smith is desperate to break his major duck as he goes up against former world champion Cross in Sunday's final.
"My finishing early in the match kind of killed the game, I won two sessions 3-2 to keep ahead but I thought I've got to hit him hard now so I didn't want to let Glenn get back into it the game because I know how good he is," Smith said after the match.
"But I kept my nose well in front of him and could kind of just keep it going until I got to the end."
"For someone who's having a bad year I'm not doing too bad on the big stage am I! - I've not been too clever in the last two finals but it's time now to show what Michael Smith can do and I'll be ready for it."
Semi-final results and Sunday final schedule
Saturday July 27 (1900 BST)
Semi-Finals (Best of 33 legs)
TV Channel: Sky Sports
- Rob Cross 17-15 Daryl Gurney
- Glen Durrant 10-17 Michael Smith
Sunday July 28 (1900 BST)
Final (best of 35 legs)
TV Channel: Sky Sports
- Rob Cross v Michael Smith