Michael van Gerwen v Rob Cross: World Darts Championship 2018 Semi-Final preview - MVG aiming to extend ruthless record

Van Gerwen and Cross shake hands (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

Reigning champion Michael van Gerwen looks to progress to his fourth World Championship final at the expense of formidable newcomer Rob Cross at Alexandra Palace on Saturday night.

Van Gerwen is bidding to become only the fourth player in the 25-year history of the event to successfully retain this trophy and join an elite group of five players to have won three or more world titles.

The runaway world number one has justified his pre-tournament billing as the red hot odds-on favourite by coming through a tough quarter of the draw, but not without a series of tough tests along the way.

Van Gerwen opened up with a 106 average in a 3-1 win over Christian Kist, before recording the highest average of the tournament so far (108.65) in whitewashing James Wilson.

He then fended off a valiant effort from Gerwyn Price with a 4-2 victory in the Last 16 before coming through a last-set epic against Dutch rival Raymond van Barneveld on Friday evening.

The 28-year-old is now 33 matches unbeaten in PDC competition since October and will look to utilise his vast experience over this long format against an opponent entering uncharted territory.

Cross is aiming to culminate a dream first year on the PDC circuit by landing the sport's richest prize and etching his name into darting folklore.

World ranked 20 prior to the tournament, 'Voltage' is now assured of a place in the world's top ten and almost certainly a spot in next year's Premier League line-up.

The Hastings thrower has handled the pressure on his first Ally Pally visit superbly, following up a straight sets rout of Seigo Asada with an epic 4-3 victory over Michael Smith in which he survived match darts.

He then brushed aside John Henderson 4-1 in Round Three before fending off a magnificent fightback from Dimitri van den Bergh to edge a thrilling last-set triumph on Friday afternoon.

Like so many, Cross' head-to-head record against MVG makes for alarming reading; he has won just won of their nine previous meetings, the last four coming in televised competition.

Van Gerwen notably claimed a 10-7 victory in October's European Championship final, as well as a pulsating 16-13 success in the Quarter-Finals of the Grand Slam last month.

Their latest show-down gets underway from around 9.30pm GMT and will be contested over the best of eleven sets. All sets are the best of five legs.

If the game goes to a deciding set, it must be won by two clear legs. If the score in the final set reaches 5-5, a sudden-death leg will be played.

Either 16-time World Champion Phil Taylor or Welsh underdog Jamie Lewis will await the winner in the final on New Year's Day.

Player's View:


Van Gerwen: "Rob is a great opponent, he did really well in the past year but he's never beaten me on stage yet so I hope I can keep that going.

"He's not played a long format like this so I think that's in my favour and we'll see what happens.

"I know what I can do and I know what I have to do, just play well against him and make sure I don't give him anything to get his confidence going.

"If I play well, I'm going to beat him."

Cross: "I don't think anyone could've predicted the way my whole year has gone.

"My feet have still got to touch the ground and I've got to be myself.

"I think I've played Michael eight or nine times this year, I beat him in a Euro Tour event. You always get chances but you've got to take them." 


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Michael van Gerwen v Rob Cross: World Darts Championship 2018 Semi-Final preview - MVG aiming to extend ruthless record

Reigning champion Michael van Gerwen looks to progress to his fourth World Championship final at the expense of formidable newcomer Rob Cross at Alexandra Palace on Saturday night.

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