Michael van Gerwen eased into the semi-finals of the European Championship with a straightforward 10-5 victory over a frustrated Simon Whitlock in Hasselt.
Though Van Gerwen opened with a 13-dart leg, the opening session featured little drama or heavy scoring. After the first three legs went with throw, the Dutchman struck with a timely 12-darter to break. Whitlock responded, but could not land double 16, and the ruthless world number one was on hand to punish the Aussie’s error.
Another Van Gerwen break followed in the sixth leg, before a seventh which began with five perfect darts ended with some double trouble for the defending champion. The Wizard took advantage of the reprieve, landing a 60 checkout to break back. Needing to assert himself on throw, Whitlock only managed 101 points with his first six darts, before his first 180 of the match was undermined by an excellent 177 by Van Gerwen. Mighty Mike made no mistake this time around, and re-established a four-leg lead over the beleaguered Grand Prix runner-up.
Five years on from claiming the title in Mulheim, Whitlock’s bid for victory was derailed by some shaky scoring. Van Gerwen had no such issues. Heavy treble-hitting secured the tenth leg as another 12-darter made it 8-2 to the runaway leader at the second break. Having thrashed Alan Norris 10-0 in the second round, a sub-par Whitlock was receiving a taste of his own medicine, but a 38 checkout ending unusually on the double one earned him a break, before a bull-double 17 route sealed an 84 out to make it 8-4.
Just as Whitlock’s mini-comeback began to gather momentum, Van Gerwen struck. The game’s first ton-plus checkout of the game was a stunning 170 by the world number one, with Whitlock waiting on the same score. And though Whitlock claimed the 14th leg, a 180 and tops sealed the tie in Van Gerwen’s favour.

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Author: Ed McCosh