Peter Wright secured a return to the final of the PDC world championship with a thrilling victory over fellow former champion Gary Anderson.
The 2020 winner will face Michael Smith, the runner-up three years ago, in Monday’s final after seeing off Anderson 6-4 in a high-quality second semi-final at Alexandra Palace. Wright, who later revealed a knee injury had been causing him discomfort, was pegged back to 3-2 and then 5-4 after opening in style by winning the first three sets. Anderson then took a leg against the throw to nudge ahead in the 10th set but second seed Wright recovered to hold off his fellow Scot and reach the final for a third time.
Wright, who averaged 104 and threw a tournament record of 24 180s in the match, told Sky Sports: “To get a win over Gary Anderson, one of the greatest Scottish darts players there has ever been … the way both of us didn’t give up, it was so hard. I’m exhausted. I knew that [fightback] was going to happen. I couldn’t stop him. What a game of darts – phenomenal.”
Wright now intends to rest his knee before returning to the arena for the final. “In the past few days I’ve had a knee injury,” he said. “I’ve got strapping on it and it’s burning like hell at the moment. I’ve got to rest it up but it’ll be all right for tomorrow.”
His opponent will be Smith, who held off a James Wade fightback to book his second appearance in the final. Wade rallied from 5-1 down but could not maintain the momentum as his fellow Englishman won through 6-3.
“It was a tough game,” said Smith, who fired 16 180s and averaged 101. “I knew he was going to push me. There was one set where he hit 180 after 180. It was about keeping my cool then. You’re not gifted things in life. I’ve not deserved it – I have worked hard for it.”
Smith opened strongly by taking the first leg in 13 darts and soon led by two sets. Wade responded by taking the third set in the deciding leg with a 121 checkout and then took the first two legs of the fourth. Yet Smith hit back to take the set and the next two to open up a 5-1 lead. Wade claimed the next two to reduce the deficit but could not maintain the momentum and slipped to semi-final defeat for a fourth time in his career.
“I am over the moon,” said Smith. “The first set was dodgy then the next five sets I felt I played really well. Then you have to pinch yourself, you need one more set and you’re into the final. It’s a lot easier when it’s the last 16 or for a quarter-final but I’m proud of myself for the way I held my nerve at the end.”