Saturday at the World Darts Championship

30 December 2017, 09:45

Saturday's World Championship line-up sees two of the biggest names in the game meet two of its rising stars in the semi-finals.

Jamie Lewis v Phil Taylor

Phil Taylor is through to the semi-finals in his 29th and final World Championship appearance, where he will take on the tournament's surprise package, Jamie Lewis.

Taylor, bidding to round-off his illustrious career with a 17th world title, has rolled back the years to reach the last four, dropping just four sets throughout the tournament, and had two world championship appearances and one world title under his belt before Lewis was even born.

'The Power' overcame a potential banana-skin against Chris Dobey in round one, before claiming successive whitewash wins against Justin Pipe and Keegan Brown.

The 16-time world champion then defeated two-time world champion Gary Anderson 5-3 in a topsy-turvy quarter-final tussle to keep his hopes of a fairy-tale farewell alive.

However, while Taylor dominates the headlines, Lewis' incredible run to the semi-finals is one of the most eye-catching stories of this year's World Championship.

The Welshman only qualified for this event by virtue of winning the third place play-off at the PDPA qualifier, but he's produced his four highest televised averages in his last four matches, defeating Jonny Clayton, Peter Wright, James Richardson and Darren Webster to reach the last four.

He averaged over 107 in demolishing second-seed Wright 4-1 in the second-round, before storming into the semi-finals with a 5-0 whitewash win against Webster.

Taylor and Lewis have met just twice, with 'The Power' prevailing on both occasions. However, both matches were in non-televised events and their last meeting came back in February 2016.

The Stoke-on-Trent veteran will be heavy favourite to reach yet another World Championship final, but despite playing one more match at this tournament than anyone else, Lewis has dropped just three sets- the fewest of all four semi-finalists.

Michael van Gerwen v Rob Cross

In the second semi-final, defending champion Michael van Gerwen meets Rob Cross, who is bidding to become the first player since Raymond van Barneveld in 2007 to win the PDC World Championship on debut.

Van Gerwen remains the odds-on favourite with the bookmakers to retain his crown, but his progress to the last four has been far from serene.

He defeated his fellow countryman Christian Kist 3-1 in the opening round and then stormed into the third round after thrashing James Wilson in twelve straight legs.

However, he then battled past Gerwyn Price 4-2 in the last 16 after the Welshman spurned five set darts for a 3-2 lead, before edging out five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld 5-4 in another Ally Pally epic.

Nevertheless, Cross has also been taken to the brink on a couple of occasions on his World Championship debut. He eased past Seigo Asada in straight sets to kick off his campaign, but he survived two match darts in a stunning second-round clash against Michael Smith.

'Voltage' then brushed aside John Henderson in round three, before eventually beating Dimitri van den Bergh 5-4 in the quarter-finals, after the Belgian fought back from 4-1 down to force a decider.

Van Gerwen and Cross have met on nine occasions this year, with the Dutchman prevailing in eight of those ties.

Cross' solitary win over 'The Green Machine' came in a European Tour event in July, but since then, the world No 1 has recorded six consecutive victories over the former electrician.

Four of those came in the televised arena, with Van Gerwen accounting for Cross in the Grand Slam, World Series of Darts Finals and in the final of the European Championship.

The 2018 World Championship from Alexandra Palace continues on Saturday with both semi-finals live on Sky Sports Darts, coverage gets underway from 7.30pm

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