WES Newton is more convinced than ever that he is a potential world darts champion after just missing out on his first ever semi-final in the sport’s blue riband event.
The Fleetwood favourite was left to rue missed doubles as he was edged out 5-4 by third seed James Wade in a last-eight thriller at the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship in London, where Phil Taylor goes for a 16th title against Michael van Gerwen in tonight’s final.
The 35-year-old sixth seed squandered a two-set lead on his second appearance in the quarter-finals at the historic Alexandra Palace venue.
Newton said: “I thought I had James beaten but I let him off with missed doubles. I did all the hard work getting back to 4-4, but it just didn’t happen for me and maybe on another day I’d have come out the winner.
“I know I’ve definitely got the game. I’ve not played at my best all the way through this World Championship. But I’ve got to take the positives because I put myself in a good position and I’ll come back fighting next year.”
Newton made a flying start by winning the first two sets in deciding legs. He clinched the first with a 13-dart leg, and won three successive legs to take the second.
But after Wade took the third against the player he defeated in last year’s UK Open final, it was the Fleetwood ace who paid the price for missed doubles. Newton won the first two legs of set four but then missed numerous chances to gain a 3-1 cushion
Wade levelled and then won six of the next seven legs to move 4-2 up in sets only for Newton to do precisely that in the next two sets to force a decider at 4-4.
Newton took the opening leg of the final set only for seven-time major Wade to claim the next three and a fine victory.
Wade was relieved to reach his third semi-final in five years and admitted: “Wes was the better player for much of the early stages and should have gone 3-1 up. I thought I was going to play brilliantly and I’m disappointed that I didn’t.”
Wade was beaten 6-3 by Van Gerwen in the semi-finals as the Dutchman hit an amazing nine-darter, then missed double 12 to repeat the achievement in the next leg.
The Dutch ace was leading 3-1 in sets but trailing 2-0 in the fifth when he opened with 180 and 177 before taking out 144 to complete the nine-dart finish – the second of the tournament after Dean Winstanley’s achievement in the second round.
Taylor overcame Raymond van Barneveld 6-4 in their semi-final last night, though he was given some nervous moments by the Dutchman’s fightback from four sets down.
Taylor won six of the game’s first seven legs to take a two-set lead, and although van Barneveld took the third set, it was the Stoke ace who pulled clear to win the next three in ruthless fashion and move 5-1 up.
However, two missed match darts at tops in the seventh set allowed van Barneveld to hit back before the five-time World Champion then took the next two sets to raise hopes of completing an amazing fightback.
Taylor, though, regained his range to take the tenth set 3-1 and secure his spot in the decider.