James Wade produced a brilliant run to his fifth Blackpool final in seven attempts, before eventually being edged out by Phil Taylor in the Betfair World Matchplay on Sunday evening.
‘The Machine’ pushed Taylor hard in a close run affair but was unable to prevent ‘The Power’ from clinching the £100,000 title for the thirteenth time, with the world number one running out an 18-15 winner.
“I have practised hard for weeks but I wasn’t in full flow tonight,” said Wade, who triumphed at The Winter Gardens in 2007.
“Getting 15 legs off Phil in the final is massive but I don’t see coming second as a good week’s work.
“I will continue to work hard and put more into this game though. I’m old enough now to realise that it’s what I’ll have to do to be the best.”
Wade showed some fantastic form throughout the tournament, defeating Richie Burnett and Mark Walsh with apparent ease in the first two rounds.
The world number three saw off the challenge of nine-dart hero Michael van Gerwen in the last eight before sealing victory over Terry Jenkins with six ton-plus finishes to reach the final, where he battled hard but was unable to topple Taylor.
‘The Power’ admitted that it could have been a different story after Wade was denied checkouts of 140 and 144 by the width of the wire in crucial legs.
“James was fantastic and has been all week,” said Taylor
“If those shots had gone in, he would have won.
“That was the nerveiest final I have ever played in.”
By Chris Murphy
JAMES WADE 17 – 15 Terry Jenkins
James Wade secured his fifth final appearance in seven visits to Blackpool’s Winter Gardens with a well earned victory over Terry Jenkins in the semi-finals of the Betfair World Matchplay on Saturday night.
‘The Machine’, who won the tournament in 2007, fired in no less than six three figure checkouts as he dumped out the man that he beat in the final five years ago.
“The Bull” played his part in a real battle in Blackpool but it was Wade who continued his love affair with the prestigious tournament.
“Terry was amazing,” said Wade, who also reached the final in 2006, 2008 & 2011.
“He probably should have won that game but I managed to dig in and get a result.
“The crowd were on his side which made it harder and a lot of the big shots I took out were born out of desperation really.
“I couldn’t get settled tonight and I struggled to concentrate at times but that won’t happen tomorrow.
“I have been putting in the practise and hopefully that will pay off in the final.”
Wade hit four 180’s in the first session but was only rewarded with a solitary leg to his name, with Jenkins going into the break with a 4-1 lead.
‘The Machine’ halved the deficit before Jenkins restored it, but Wade pulled it back to 5-3 with a stunning 164 checkout.
‘The Bull’ made it 6-3 before world number three Wade reeled off six consecutive legs, which included clinical checkouts of 103, 107 & 127.
Jenkins then hit back, taking five legs in a row to go 11-9 in front before ‘The Machine’ produced a sublime 130 checkout to spark another run of consecutive legs, this time taking a quick-fire four, with a sensational 144 finish in amongst the game shots.
Jenkins took the next two to restore parity at 13 apiece before Wade split 26 and then hit double top to move two legs clear.
‘The Bull’ wasn’t finished though and won the next two to leave the match finely poised at 15 all.
But Wade grabbed a crucial break of throw before getting the job done on double six, to move into Sunday evening’s £100,000 final.
By Chris Murphy
JAMES WADE 16 – 13 Michael van Gerwen
James Wade sealed his place in a sixth semi-final in seven visits to Blackpool with a 16-13 triumph over Michael van Gerwen in a high quality encounter in the Betfair World Matchplay.
‘The Machine’, who is chasing his eighth major title, set up a last four clash against Terry Jenkins after being pushed hard by his opponent in a match where neither player’s average dropped below 100 from the off.
“Michael fought hard there,” said Wade, who won the tournament in 2007.
“He’s back to playing some of the best darts he’s ever played but I’ve been practising hard and it is starting to show in patches.
“I’m looking forward to playing Terry tomorrow. I know that we will both just go up there and play darts and may the best man win.”
Wade started the strongest, hitting double ten to take the first leg before breaking with a brilliant 116 checkout in the second, which included his first maximum.
van Gerwen broke straight back before ‘The Machine’ reeled off five consecutive legs in business like fashion, hitting two more maximums along the way.
‘Mighty Mike’ stuck in his first 180 as he pulled it back to 7-3, only for Wade to win the next two legs, holding with a sensational 146 checkout, before another 180 helped him break the Dutchman’s throw once again.
van Gerwen managed to break back, cutting Wade’s lead to 9-4 but the world number three restored his six leg lead with a seventh succesful shot at double ten.
Former World Master van Gerwen grabbed the games’ fourth consecutive break of throw, taking out 25, to leave the second session five legs behind.
The Dutchman, who had hit a nine-darter 48 hours earlier, went off with his fourth 180 in the 16th leg but ‘The Machine’ took out another fabulous shot with 122 on the bull.
van Gerwen took out 24 and then 65 to reduce Wade’s lead to 11-7, despite the 2007 winner hitting his fifth 180.
‘Mighty Mike’ levelled up the maximum count before hitting double 16 to move within three legs of Wade with a break.
The 23-year-old won a fourth leg on the spin, hitting double five before Wade made it 12-9 with a 12 dart leg.
van Gerwen hit double 16 to peg back ‘The Machine’ again, before grabbing a seemingly crucial break of throw with a fantastic 88 outshot on the bull.
Wade ensured he kept daylight between them, taking out 72 to break straight back, before a neat 86 finish put him three legs clear at 14-11.
van Gerwen kept himself in it with a 13 darter, bere Wade’s ninth maximum helped to move him within a leg of victory.
The Dutchman held to keep the pressure on but Wade clinched his place in the semi-finals with a brilliant 71 checkout, finishing on double ten.
By Chris Murphy
JAMES WADE 13 – 4 Mark Walsh
James Wade produced a polished performance to book his place in the quarter-finals of the Betfair World Matchplay with a 13-4 victory over Mark Walsh at The Winter Gardens, Blackpool.
The 2007 winner and three times runner-up dominated proceedings from start finish, as he set up a mouth-watering last eight clash with Michael van Gerwen.
“It felt really good for the first ten legs,” said Wade, who averaged just shy of 100 en route to victory.
“I drifted away a bit towards the end but if there was ever a time to have bad patch, I’d rather have it at 10-1.
“I did alright tonight though and I’m looking forward to playing Michael on Friday now.
“He’s a young lad full of confidence. Good luck to him but I’ll be out to do a job again.”
Wade hit 180s in each of the first two legs, which he won, going out on five to hold his throw and 28 to break.
Walsh announced himself in the match with a 121 checkout to break back immediatley but ‘The Machine’ went up a gear and took the next eight legs consecutively, hitting brilliant finishes of 158 and 140 along the way.
Walsh pulled a leg back before Wade’s fourth maximim helped him on the way to an 11-2 lead.
Both players held throw in the next three legs to leave the world number three throwing for the match at 12-4.
He completed the job in style, hitting his fifth maximum before hitting double ten to progress into the second round.
By Chris Murphy
JAMES WADE 10 – 5 Richie Burnett
James Wade progressed into the second round of the Betfair World Matchplay with a convincing victory over Richie Burnett.
The 2007 champion, who has reached four finals in six attempts at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, saw off the in-form Welshman 10-5 with a solid display.
“I was very focused because I know how well Richie has been playing,” said Wade, who will now face Mark Walsh on Wednesday.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have thought about that because I know what I can do, but I love the place, the tournament and the format and I’m looking forward to playing Mark in the next round.
“I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing and I’m sure I can do well here again.”
‘The Machine’ made a strong start, posting double top to win the first two legs, before extending his lead to 3-0 on double ten.
Burnett hit double six to pull a leg back but Wade restore his three-leg cushion when he found the same bed.
He continued to dominate proceedings after the break, hitting double top to break the Burnett throw again and take a 5-1 lead.
The world number three won the seventh leg on double ten, before hitting double top for another break.
Wade held to go 8-1 in front before ‘The Prince of Wales’ picked up a second leg.
Burnett added a third with a break of throw, which ‘The Machine’ responded to in style, hitting his first maximum of the match before taking out 52 on double ten to return the favour and move within a leg of victory.
The pair exchanged 180’s in the the 15th leg, as Burnett took another leg against the throw before holding to make it 9-5, granting himself a stay of execution.
‘The Machine’ finished the job off though, taking out 83 on double top to book his place in round two.
By Chris Murphy
James Wade is hoping to make some more memories in the 2012 Betfair World Matchplay, as he goes in pursuit of his eighth PDC major title at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens.
“I have some fantastic memories of the place and I love the tournament,” said Wade, the 2007 winner. “I really began to make my mark as a professional darts player in Blackpool. It was the first major I won so it is a special place for me.”
‘The Machine’ has experienced mixed fortunes so far this year. He reached the semi-finals of both the Ladbrokes World Championship and the McCoy’s Premier League before his hopes of defending his Speedy Services UK Open crown were ended in the third round last month.
But Wade, the PDC’s second most succesful player after Phil Taylor, is confident in his ability and hopes to hit top form when he faces Welshman Richie Burnett on Sunday in the first round.
He said: “I’m sure that I can do very well in this tournament and there is no reason why I can’t go all the way if I’m at the top of my game, but I have to win the first match first and foremost.
“Richie is a very good player, who has shown a bit of form recently so I am expecting a good battle but I’m used to that and I have shown time and time again that I can win these battles.
“Every game is going to be difficult. You can only take it one game at I time and confidence only comes with wins but I know that when I’m playing well, I can beat anyone.”
“I was disappointed not to go further in the UK Open, but the big tournaments come thick and fast at this time of year, and this is my chance to bounce back, and I have proved on many occasions I can do that.”
By Chris Murphy
Image courtesy of Lawrence Lustig/PDC