Premier League: Adrian Lewis blows out
After seven legs, Adrian Lewis had one foot in the play-offs of the Premier League.
After 14 legs he both feet heading home after an 8-6 defeat by Simon Whitlock that meant the reigning world champion was out of the competition.
The last night of the regular season, played at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle, still had five players scrapping over the two remaining semi-final places available.
Phil Taylor and Whitlock had already qualified and Lewis, who had made an indifferent start to the tournament, could still reach the final stages for the £150,000 title at The O2 in London next week if he could beat the Australian.
However, there was still an incentive for Whitlock because a win would ensure that he finished second in the table and would thus avoid Taylor in the semi-finals.
Having shared the opening two legs, Lewis put in a 12-darter to move three legs clear at 5-2 and opened the eighth leg with five successive treble 20s - hitting a 180 and 123 - only for Whitlock to floor him with maximum of his own and a 77 checkout for a 14-darter.
Lewis then missed an out on double top and watched on as Whitlock won the ninth leg on double eight and then levelled in the next. The Englishman came back with a 180 and tops finish to go 6-5 ahead, only for Whitlock go all-square once more.
Then Lewis looked to have at least a point on the board when he left himself 69 in the 13th leg. But Whitlock stunned the world champion with a 140 checkout to move 7-6 up, before sealing victory on double 16. "I was already in the semi-finals but I wanted to win tonight to make sure that I avoided Phil Taylor in the semi-finals, so I'm over the moon to have done that," Whitlock said to pdc.tv.
"Adrian was fantastic early on but I hung in there and when I was 5-2 down it took a lot of bottle to come back from there. I dug deep and the darts went in for me. The Premier League this year has been the hardest ever, so I'm delighted to have finished second but I've got two steps left now; to reach the final and then go on and win it."
Whitlock will now play Andy Hamilton who capped an amazing run, having looked out of contention six weeks ago, when he beat Kevin Painter 8-1.
The two, who were both making their debut in the Premier League, went into the match knowing they could still qualify but Painter was never in contention as Hamilton threw four maximums and finished 42% of his chances at a double.
Hamilton raced to a 4-0 lead before Painter nailed a 111 finish to at least stop the whitewash but that was as good as it got for the Artist who was otherwise well and truly hammered.
James Wade took the point that booked his place in the semi-final against Taylor but Raymond van Barneveld will know just how close he came to making the final four.
Van Barneveld was looking good at 4-2 before Wade took a 6-4 lead but the Dutchman Came back again to go 7-6 up. He needed the 14th leg to clinch his place in the semis but Wade - with the advantage of throw – nailed a maximum and a 140 to leave 121 after nine darts, and set up the double top for arguably the most important draw of his career.
"It was a hard game and Raymond played well, so there's a massive sense of satisfaction to be in the play-offs again," Wade said. "I've scraped through with the right results and the wrong times for other people, and Simon Whitlock helped me out tonight by beating Adrian. I know what I've got to do next week in the play-offs - to win two games. I've done it before and I'm just glad to be there, because a couple of weeks ago it was looking bad for me and seven weeks ago it was looking even worse.
"I'm looking forward to playing Phil in the semi-finals. He seems to do something special against me every time we play so I know the size of the task, but I'm being positive about it."
Taylor also drew, 7-7, with outgoing champion Gary Anderson who showed some of the form that had taken him to the title 12 months ago.
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