Two more quarters tonight and it’s getting even hotter at the seaside

Postcard from Blackpool, with Betfred TV’s Mark Pearson

Dimitri Van den Bergh’s bid to retain the Betfred World Matchplay title will continue with a semi-final against Krzysztof Ratajski on Saturday, after the Belgian’s brilliant victory over Gerwyn Price on Thursday.

Photo – Lawrence Lustig

The reigning champion (above) produced a superb display to see off World Champion Price 16-9, as the quarter-finals began in style at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens.

He is joined in the last four by Polish number one Ratajski, who reached his first PDC televised semi-final with a 16-8 success against youngster Callan Rydz.

It was Van den Bergh, though, who stole the show once again to continue his bid to retain the Phil Taylor Trophy. Having hit a remarkable 14 x 180s in his second round win over Dave Chisnall, Van den Bergh landed ten further maximums and averaged over 102 against the reigning World Champion.

Price played his part in an enthralling contest and pulled back from 6-2 down to trail just 8-7 at one stage, only to see Van den Bergh win eight of the next ten legs in a famous win.

Price began the game with a 105 finish and led 2-1, only to miss doubles in four successive legs as Van den Bergh capitalised on each occasion, and then took a fifth straight leg to move 6-2 up.

A brace of tops finishes saw Price halve the deficit, before Van den Bergh regained the advantage with legs of 11 and 14 darts. Price, though, produced two 14-darters of his own in a three-leg burst to cut the gap to 8-7, celebrating with a copy of Van den Bergh’s signature dance going into the game’s third break. Some said that was disrespectful. I thought it was class.

Earlier in the night, relentless Ratajski won through to his first televised PDC semi-final in convincing fashion against Rydz. The Polish ace has reached the last eight at the World Matchplay, World Championship, and UK Open in the past year, but ensured a spot in Saturday’s semi-finals – in style.

Debutant Rydz had seen off Glen Durrant and Rob Cross to reach his first televised quarter-final, but never recovered after seeing his opponent open up leads of 3-1, 6-2 and 12-5.

Well – if you enjoyed last night, Day 7 is going to be even better. First up we have Peter Wright, who should be tournament favourite in my opinion, playing Michael Smith who was the beaten finalist the last time we were at the Winter Gardens.

And if that is an absolutely mouthwatering starter, the main course is a cracker. MVG, who finally averaged over 100 in his win against Ian White, takes on Nathan Aspinall. The Asp is just loving the Blackpool stage.

And check out my exclusive interview with Michael Van Gerwen on our social media channels at 6.45pm tonight. The Green Machine admits to me he’s not been good enough of late.

Some iconic acts have played the Winter Gardens – from Frank Sinatra to the Rolling Stones. Tonight’s right bang in that exalted company.

They’ve planned, each charted course. Each careful step, along the B3590. And more, much more than this. They’re doing it – their way.

Enjoy the ‘arrers.

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