- World Darts Championship
Dogged Wade edges Part in thriller
James Wade held his nerve to book a last-four berth at the World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace, winning a sudden-death leg to claim a thrilling 5-4 victory over John Part.
After winning only three of the first 17 legs, Part came alive and the standard of darts from both men went through the roof. A 12-dart leg from Wade gave him a 5-4 lead in the deciding set, but Part hit straight back to force a sudden-death finale.
With his opponent off target in the throw-off, Wade found the bullseye to have the honour of throwing first in the ensuing shootout. It was to prove crucial - the Machine taking out 85 to book his place in the semi-finals for a second time.
A relieved Wade said: "I started off so well and I thought 'we'll have this one' and John hit a 97 and he went 'I had my taxi booked' and I said 'you best keep it booked because you're still going' as the gamesmanship went on in the middle of the game. I thought I'd be alright and carry on but before I knew it I should have lost the game."
When asked whether it was the best game he had ever played in, Part said: "It might be the greatest game I ever lost. I'm sorry I lost because I don't get to play again but I'm not sorry I lost to James because he was brilliant. He stood up to the pressure because I put everything I had into him."
Part failed to rise the occasion in the early stages, looking well short of his best as Wade - the third seed - whitewashed him in the first set. The second was a more balanced affair, although neither was playing well enough to strike fear into the others still standing at the tournament - until Part took out 167 in the fifth leg to level the match at one set each.
Part failed to gather any momentum from that clinical finish, and Wade was in ruthless form in the third, grabbing another whitewash. Part was in disarray during the fourth, constantly scoring less than his opponent, and Wade claimed another clean sweep to move 3-1 up.
Wade was on course to open a three-set advantage when he gave himself plenty of darts at a double in the fifth leg of the fifth frame, but he strayed and Part found a 97 finish to cut the score to 3-2. In the blink of an eye it was level at 3-3, Part clinching the opening leg with a 116 checkout, and then handing out a whitewash of his own.
And the turnaround was complete when Part won the deciding leg of the seventh to move 4-3 ahead, looking unrecognisable from the man who toiled in the early stages of the match.
The match continued to ebb and flow, with Wade forcing the match into a decider. Part, a three-time world champion, showed there was nothing wrong with his stamina as he took out 64 to break and go 4-3 ahead. However, Wade broke back immediately to level the match and, after more drama, the Machine found his numbers to sneak through in the sudden-death finish.
Andy Hamilton notched up 11 maximums on his way to a crushing 5-2 victory over Kim Huybrechts, which earned him a place in the semi-final against Simon Whitlock or Gary Anderson.
Hamilton, who knocked out Phil Taylor's conqueror Dave Chisnall in the previous round, steamed through the first set in real style, winning two legs against the throw with an average of 109. Huybrechts threatened a comeback with a 13-dart leg early in the second frame, but Hamilton kept hitting high numbers and eventually made his pressure tell, building a two-set advantage.
Huybrechts came back into the match but, having only turned professional over the summer, lacked the experience and composure at the pressure moments. When he went 4-1 down he knew he was at the point of no return, and needed to win each of the next four sets to stay alive in the tournament.
He did take the sixth, but Hamilton looked entirely at ease even after the heat was turned up, and closed out the victory in style.