World Darts Championship: Raymond van Barneveld forced to dig deep to keep title dream alive
Raymond van Barneveld staged a magnificent comeback against Michael Smith to keep alive his dream of winning the World Darts Championship for the first time since 2007.
Van Barneveld came from three sets down and recovered from falling two legs behind in the ninth set, surviving a match dart as he reached his third Ally Pally semi-final in four years.
The Dutch legend incredibly produced four 121 finishes on the way to his third successive deciding set victory, sealing a 5-4 victory over the former World Youth Champion.
"I had some amazing checkouts," said Van Barneveld.
"I keep practicing hard every week. I keep telling my friends and family this World Championship is coming up and I'm saving all my energy and power to make an impact.
"The fans were brilliant and without them I never would have fought back. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (former Holland international) is here and I'm lucky to have the support of everyone. I want to see my grandson but I'd also like to make it two more days here.
"It's about belief and you have to feel that and the adrenalin in your body. I never felt that in the first three sets and I was gone. I never had belief but I regained confidence and put him under pressure. But when you put him under pressure he plays better.
"Missing one or two darts could have spelt the end for me but I hung in there."
Van Barneveld, who is chasing his fifth World Championship title, added: "Maybe there is someone up there helping me. It could be my year again."
'Barney' will face two-time World Champion Adrian Lewis in the semi-finals after he swept aside 2014 finalist Peter Wright 5-2.
Lewis stormed into a 3-0 lead and resisted a fightback from Wright.
Earlier yesterday, World Darts champion Gary Anderson booked a semi-final scrap with Jelle Klaasen today after demolishing James Wade 5-1.
Anderson defeated Wade 5-1 with an average of over 105 as he coasted to victory.
The Flying Scotsman is now just two games away from becoming the third player to successfully defend his first World Championship title.
"It's going alright so far and I'm happy," said Anderson, the world number two, who lifted the Sid Waddell Trophy 12 months ago. "I've felt comfortable and confident ever since I got the first game out of the way.
"It was a good performance, although it would have been nice to have hit the nine-darter - but I'm sure that there will be one or two before the end of the tournament."
After progessing to the last four, Anderson said he felt Michael van Gerwen would not win the same amount of major championships as Phil Taylor. Both Van Gerwen and Taylor have endured early exits from the World Darts Championship this week, delaying the young Dutchman's attempt to edge towards the legendary Stoke thrower's 16 world titles.
Anderson said: "Yes, Michael van Gerwen has got all the ability in the world but with the way that darts is now, over the next 10 years there will be hundreds of Michaels coming through.
"You've got Michael Smith, Keegan Brown, all the youngsters like Daryl Gurney. They're all going to be pushing him so he's not going to get as many, I don't think."
Klaasen claimed a dramatic 5-4 victory over Alan Norris. The Dutchman produced a sensational five-leg burst to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against the Ally Pally debutant Norris, who also narrowly missed double 12 for a nine-dart-finish.
"In the last few years I've learned to play my best darts under pressure," said Klaasen, who became the first to player to win their next match after knocking 16-time World Champion Taylor out of the tournament.