It is semi-final Saturday at the WDF World Darts Championship with both the men’s and women’s last four matches taking place on what could be yet another special day of darts inside the Lakeside Country Club.
Both singles competitions have really caught fire the longer the week has gone on and now that spots in the final are up for grabs it would be daft not to expect plenty of quality but also lots of drama and tension too.
Rhian O’Sullivan vs Kirsty Hutchinson
The opening semi-final of the day comes from the women’s draw where the Wales captain Rhian O’Sullivan takes on the feisty English woman Kirsty Hutchinson in a semi-final where the format goes up to the best of five sets.
A lot of people have O’Sullivan as their favourite for the title from here on in. If form in the first three rounds is anything to go by then you can see why as she has been superb to date, culminating in averaging 89.21 in seeing off Maria O’Brien in the quarter final. Hutchinson has certainly not been to the level in terms of a final average but she has got better the longer the week has gone on and has flourished from behind which might be significant because O’Sullivan has largely been untested this week. Hutchinson has plenty of scoring power and if the increase in format takes the pressure off her doubles she can be competitive here. I hope she is more than competitive because I’m on her at just over 8/1 having backed her before the week began so hopefully the tag of being a huge favourite weighs on the Welsh player and Hutchinson can come through.
Richard Veenstra vs Neil Duff
The first of the men’s semi-finals opens up the evening session and we should be in for a cracking contest over the best of nine sets as Richard Veenstra, who almost added a nine dart finish to his record breaking average of earlier in the week, takes on a Neil Duff who turned into Houdini in the quarter final.
Veenstra has been the player of the tournament so far but that never counts for anything once a new match begins on the stage so he will know he has to keep his levels up if he wants to make a first world final. He has been to this stage of the event before though and that experience might serve him well. Duff has seemingly been on a date with destiny since the week started with him desperate to compete in the final on what would be special 18th birthday for his daughter. After seeing him come from 3-0 down to see off Jim McEwan in the quarter final you just wonder if the stars are beginning to align. I still think Veenstra will have his number here but I am respectful of the quality of Duff so the bet I like here is over 11.5 180s. These two men both took their time to find their scoring boots in this tournament but they both hit double figures for them in their quarter final wins and I’m expecting a fairly close contest here and with the format extended the scoring should be good. I like the over in this one.
Lorraine Winstanley vs Beau Greaves
The second semi-final in the women’s draw sees the former finalist Lorraine Winstanley taking on the teenager Beau Greaves who was vying for tournament favouritism before a dart was thrown and who is comfortably in that position now.
Winstanley has come through her two matches to date without too much fuss although she was taken to a deciding set by Tori Kewish in the quarter final. Greaves has only dropped one set in her two matches and that was in her opening match against the inspired Veronika Ihasz who took out a 164 finish on her way to winning that set. The teenager was in cruise control against Aileen de Graaf in the last eight and I think that might be significant because de Graaf and Winstanley are a similar sort of player in that they are steady without being spectacular in the scoring phase and then rely on their finishing to get the job done. Greaves outscored de Graaf comfortably and I expect her to outscore Winstanley as well. There were 20 points between these two in the averages in the quarter finals and that is a lot for Winstanley to make up. Greaves did the double in the Isle of Man recently so she came here in great form and can outclass her older opponent here.
Thibault Tricole vs Cameron Menzies
The semi-final day concludes with the second men’s clash in the last four as the highest remaining seed left in the competition looks to justify his number two seeding as Thibault Tricole takes on the PDC tour card holder Cameron Menzies for a place in the final on Sunday.
Tricole had a good win in the quarter final when he held his nerve to see off Andy Baetens who kind of fell at the winning line. He was the second opponent to do that against the Frenchman after Shawn Burt did that earlier in the competition. You wouldn’t expect Menzies to make that mistake though as he has not only gotten better with every match this week but he is gaining good experience on the PDC tour and will soon know how to get over the line with the regular activity he is getting. I expect the run of the Frenchman to come to an end here but having backed Menzies before a dart was thrown this week I’m effectively on him at 9/2 anyway so I’m happy to let that ride in the hope the Scot delivers the place part of the bet here.
Back R.Veenstra vs N.Duff – Over 11.5 180s for a 3/10 stake at 1.90 with Betway
Back B.Greaves to win 3-0 for a 2/10 stake at 2.63 with Coral