Michael Smith ends Raymond van Barneveld renaissance to reach final

Michael Smith will get another shot at finally winning a major title after ending Raymond van Barneveld’s renaissance at the Grand Slam of Darts on Sunday.

Smith beat Van Barneveld 16-12 in the semi-final in Wolverhampton to make it through to a ninth career final in which he will be desperate to end a run of eight defeats.

Three of those have been in 2022, but he will be confident of breaking his duck later on Sunday evening after a fine performance against the Dutchman, who had been rolling back the years this week.

Smith surged into a 5-0 lead in the first to 16 before Van Barneveld battled his way back, eventually levelling at 10-10.

But 'Bully Boy' was not prepared to let this opportunity slip and with the tie poised at 12-12, rattled off the final four legs to book himself another final spot.

His victory was underscored by an impressive 104.10 average and 17 180s which saw crowd favourite Van Barneveld head home.

But the veteran does so having reached his first major televised semi-final since the 2017 World Championship, having come out of retirement in 2020, raising hopes that he can return to the top of the sport where he was a main player during the 2000s.

If Smith is to get his hands on some silverware he will have to beat Nathan Aspinall in the final.

Aspinall, who was runner-up at the Grand Prix in Leicester last month, beat Luke Humphries 16-12 in the other semi-final.

It was a tight game which was tied at 11-11 until Aspinall hit the gas, claiming victory with a stylish 121 checkout.

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