Michael Smith digs deep to keep World Championship challenge alive

Grand Slam of Darts champion Michael Smith moved to within a win of his third World Championship final in five years with a hard-fought 5-3 defeat of Stephen Bunting.

Smith, who came through a seventh-set decider against Martin Schindler in the last 16, looked to be cruising into the final four as he raced into a 4-1 lead against his profligate St Helens rival.

However, 2021 semi-finalist Bunting came roaring back, winning six of the next seven legs to reduce the arrears to 4-3 and threaten an extraordinary fightback.

Nevertheless, the eighth set saw Bunting spurn a string of darts at doubles and Smith capitalised, holding his nerve on double ten to advance to the last four for the second straight year.

In the other quarter-final clashes Gabriel Clemens continued his history-making run at the World Darts Championship with a sensational 5-1 demolition of world number one Gerwyn Price, while Michael van Gerwen will take on Dimitri Van den Bergh after their wins over Chris Dobey and Jonny Clayton respectively.

"I wasn't at my best up there today," admitted Smith, who will become the new world number one if he scoops the £500,000 top prize on January 3.

"I managed to dig deep when I needed it and when I was under pressure I managed to hit doubles.

"For most of the tournament I've been winning ugly, but I'm into the semi-finals.

"I put myself under too much pressure. Today felt weird on stage, but I when I needed to produce something I found it."

The semi-finals will take place on a blockbuster Monday night, with German trailblazer Gabriel Clemens up against fourth seed Smith for a place in Tuesday's showpiece.

Van Gerwen will then continue his bid for a fourth World Championship crown against Van den Bergh, who is aiming to become the first Belgian player to lift the coveted Sid Waddell Trophy.

2022/23 World Championships results and schedule

Sunday January 1 - Quarter-Finals

Dimitri Van den Bergh 5-3 Jonny Clayton (0-3, 3-0, 1-3, 3-0, 2-3, 3-2, 3-1, 3-2)

Michael Smith 5-3 Stephen Bunting (3-2, 0-3, 3-1, 3-1, 3-0, 0-3, 1-3, 3-1)

Gabriel Clemens 5-1 Gerwyn Price (0-3, 3-1, 3-1, 3-1, 3-1, 3-0)

Michael van Gerwen 5-0 Chris Dobey (3-1, 3-1, 3-0, 3-0, 3-1)

Monday January 2 - Semi-finals (1930 GMT)

Gabriel Clemens v Michael Smith

Dimitri Van den Bergh v Michael van Gerwen

Best of 11 sets

Tuesday January 3 - Final (2000 GMT)

Clemens/Smith v Van den Bergh/Van Gerwen

Best of 13 sets

Latest news