Dave Chisnall, Robert Thornton and Denis Ovens will challenge for their first major PDC title alongside Phil Taylor in the semi-finals of the Speedy Services UK Open tonight.
The four stars won through Sunday afternoon’s quarter-finals at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton to remain on course for the £40,000 first prize, which will be decided with the semi-finals and final on Sunday night.
Only Taylor of the quartet has previously lifted a major PDC title, but his three rivals will be confident of winning the UK Open following fine victories in the quarter-finals.
Chisnall was arguably the most impressive of the afternoon’s winners, sending two-time UK Open Raymond van Barneveld crashing out of the tournament with a 10-5 victory.
The St Helens ace won the game’s first five legs in a superb opening, and although van Barneveld hit back to 7-4 at one stage it was Chisnall who took two of the next three to move into the semis with a 99.79 average.
“I’m very pleased with my performance,” said Chisnall, who had reached the quarter-finals on his Bolton debut last year. “I played quite well there, and the start I made was important.
“I didn’t think I had it won at 5-0 because Barney can always come back, so I’m happy to have got through it. Robert’s having a good weekend and I’m looking forward to playing him tonight.”
Thornton knocked out 2011 runner-up Wes Newton with a 10-8 victory in their contest, despite the Fleetwood ace making the early running to take a 3-1 lead.
Thornton levelled and punished Newton for missed doubles as he allowed a potential ten-dart finish to slip away in leg nine, as the Scot moved into a lead he would never relinquish.
Newton hit two 121 finishes to stay in the hunt, but Thornton sealed victory with a 13-darter to reach his first major semi-final for over three years as he plays Chisnall.
“Wes is always a tough opponent but he missed a few doubles and I’m glad I got past him,” said Thornton. “I’m very happy with the way I’m playing and ecstatic to have got this far.
“I’m taking each round as it comes and I’ll prepare myself as well as I can for the semi-finals.”
Ovens, meanwhile, won through to the semi-finals in Bolton for a third successive year as he saw off Jamie Caven 10-6 in their clash.
Caven, like Newton earlier in the afternoon, led 3-1 only to see his opponent hit back as Ovens won four straight legs to move 5-3 up.
Caven hit a ten-darter in levelling and was also all-square at six-all before Ovens’ superior finishing saw him take the next four without reply to progress, with the Derby man paying for 26 missed doubles during the contest.
“I’m relaxed and enjoying myself and it’s great to be back in the semi-finals,” said Ovens, who now meets Taylor in a repeat of their meeting at this stage two years ago.
“I had a couple of let-offs yesterday but was pleased with how I finished against Jamie. I know the size of the challenge against Phil but I’m looking forward to it.”
World number one Taylor remained on course for his fifth UK Open title with a 10-5 win over Terry Jenkins, who never fully recovered from the missed doubles which allowed the Stoke ace to take an early 4-1 lead.
Taylor also hit a showpiece 125 checkout of bullseye, 25 and bullseye to lead 7-2, and although Jenkins rallied by winning three out of four legs to pull back to 8-5, it was the 51-year-old who secured his last four place with a 12-darter.
“I’m really happy with that and I’m playing lovely,” said Taylor, who averaged 106.52 in the win. “In a competition like this you want to keep getting better and better, and I think I’m doing that.
“I missed a few doubles but I’m happy with a 10-5 win because Terry’s a tough opponent. It sets me up nicely for the semi-finals and I can’t wait for tonight.”