Phil Taylor will play Rob Cross in the PDC World Darts Championship final ahead of his retirement

Phil Taylor is bidding for a 17th world darts title
Phil Taylor is bidding for a 17th world darts title

Phil Taylor's last match before retirement will be his 21st World Darts Championship final against Rob Cross, who defeated Michael van Gerwen in an epic.

Look back in detail at both semi-finals with our leg-by-leg blog

Cross dethrones van Gerwen in epic

Rising star Rob Cross continued his rapid accent towards the very top of the game by defeating defending champion Michael van Gerwen 6-5 in an unforgettable semi-final at Alexandra Palace.

Voltage came through the high drama of a sudden death leg and will now play his final match of a sensational debut season as a pro on New Year's Day against a legend playing his last before retirement. With the world title on the line.

Needing to win by two clear legs in the final set, van Gerwen sensationally missed five match darts when leading 5-4 in the deciding set before spurning one more in the sudden death leg after Cross had failed to take his own chance on double 16.

Despite the unbearable tension and the mental fatigue of being involved in the longest match of his career 24 hours after an equally-draining victory over Dimitri van den Bergh, Cross held it together to pin double eight for the most memorable of triumphs.

Defeat brings to an end van Gerwen's 32-match winning run which saw him collect the last four televised major titles while it's also the first victory Cross has enjoyed over the world number one on the big stage and just the second overall from 10 encounters.

Van Gerwen, who was odds-on to win throughout the clash despite never being ahead in sets until going 5-4 up, was constantly put under pressure by a barrage of 180s while set-winning checkouts of 161 and 126 helped keep Cross' nose in front.

Although MVG hit 16 180s and boasted a higher average of 102.44, his finishing let him down as he hit just 27 of his 85 attempts at doubles.

Eight of those came in the 10th set as Cross took full advantage to force a decider although his six failed match darts only came after the former electrician missed the first match dart on the bullseye when leading 3-2.

"Words can't explain it, they really can't," said Cross. "Obviously I've lost to Michael a fair few times but tonight was my turn. I played well, but the crowd helped me, they really did, they got on Michael's back a bit and that's why I won.

"At a point I felt inexperienced, I really did, but I managed to get through it and I'll make sure I'm right again for a couple of days."

Van Gerwen said: "Missing these doubles was extremely painful. There was nothing I could do about it. He played really well, all credit to him. But I should have won this. I can only blame myself and nobody else. Of course he’s a great winner. But I think I deserved to win this match to be quite honest. I had six match darts and normally I don’t miss that many. I’m sick of it.

"I think this is just his year. He had the luck going for him. It’s that simple. Those doubles were so close on the wire. I’m sick about that. Normally that doesn’t happen to me and I’m the only one to blame for it. My scoring was good at the right moment but my doubles let me down. I can only blame myself for that."

Power still refusing to go out at the Ally Pally

Phil Taylor kept alive his dream of winning a fairytale 17th world title before retirement with a crushing 6-1 victory over Jamie Lewis - although the scoreline was harsh on the surprise semi-finalist.

The Power will now bow out of the professional game after his 21st world championship final on New Year's Day against rising star Rob Cross, who overcome Michael van Gerwen in an Alexandra Palace epic.

Taylor told the PDC: "It's surreal, it's like I'm not even here. It's like winning the lottery for me this is (to be in the final).

"I never expected to beat Gary Anderson and to be honest, the way Jamie was playing I thought I was going to be 4-0 down!"

Asked if victory on New Year's Day would be his finest ever moment, he added: "Of course it will be. The best thing for me now is that I've got a day off because I'm shattered. Two games on the trot under pressure is hard work."

"I'm not going to practice - I'm just going to relax. Energy is what I need now. I'm still playing OK but not good enough really."

Taylor initially made a nervy start as the 300/1 pre-tournament no-hoper took the opening set but he won the next three on deciding legs - in which Lewis missed set darts in all of them.

The 57-year-old, who defeated two-time world champion Gary Anderson is a gruelling encounter 24 hours earlier, raced through the fifth to go 4-1 up before edging a break-filled set on a deciding leg as he moved one away from victory.

Lewis showed fighting spirit to go 2-0 in front in the seventh but after Taylor pulled one back with a showboating double-double 19 finish, the young Welshman missed an eighth set dart of the match and was duly punished.

The 26-year-old, who has enjoyed a memorable run that included a sensational 4-1 victory over Peter Wright, then came within the width of a wire from taking out 152 to extend the match before Taylor took out 68 for victory.

The Power averaged 99.87 despite only hitting five 180s but it was clinical finishing which proved to be the key as he nailed 52.63% of his doubles.

Lewis scored heavily enough thanks to 11 180s but his average of 97.35 was down to only making 14 of his 41 attempts at doubles.

Routes to the final

Rob Cross

Phil Taylor

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