Two epics in prospect on Friday
A better quarter-final line-up could not be asked for at this year’s PDC world championships as four of the highest quality contests imaginable are in prospect in the last eight, and arguably none more so than Simon Whitlock against Raymond van Barneveld.
Barney is the only man left outside of the world’s top eight but he is certainly anything but a surprise package given the form he showed on his way to winning the Grand Slam just last month. He has undoubtedly kept this up as he has swept all before him aside thus far, only dropping one set on his way to the quarter-finals.
It is fair to say that he hasn’t really been pushed to this point though with none of his three opponents averaging over 90 and all wilting away to an extent at the slightest sign of pressure. This will not be the case against Whitlock, who has proved in recent times he can handle intense situations as well as anyone. There was little doubt about this considering he has reached two world finals but his European Championship win truly proved he could get over the line and then in the very recent past his 152 finish to stay in the game against Dave Chisnall proved his mettle once again.
The Aussie has a very encouraging record against the Dutchman as well, winning comfortably more than he has lost including their only contest on the world stage when the Wizard ousted Barney at the semi-final stage in 2010.
It has been so long since we have seen a truly in-form and confident Barney on the big stage that it is almost hard to remember how to react to it, but the bookies have faith in him and have priced him as an 8/13 favourite to overcome Whitlock. Van Barneveld will have to step up his game again though to win this one as his averages have been steadily declining since round one and if anything Whitlock looks the value bet at 11/8 given his record against the five time world champ.
Whoever does emerge victorious though, and I have a funny feeling it will be Whitlock, it will be a close match and as over 7.5 sets is odds-on in places but evens with 888sport.com, this looks a very decent price for a contest that could go all the way.
It would be unfair to attack Andy Hamilton for his record against Phil Taylor because the vast majority of players to ever face the great man do not come off well in the head to head results, but the Hammer’s results against the Power have been especially poor.
In close to 30 encounters over the last half-dozen years or so Hamilton has prospered just once, in a floor event in 2009 and in truth, many of the other clashes have not even been close. The pair have met twice before on the world championship stage as well, once in the last 16 in 2006 and again in the semi-final in ’07 and Hamilton is yet to win a set.
So the history books are not kind to the Hammer and whilst it is true that he is a hugely improved player over the last 18 months it hasn’t helped him overcome his Power problems having lost to the world number one six times this year. Most recently and most notably this happened in the last eight of the Players Championship Finals when Hamilton was 9-5 up in a race to 10 and managed to toss the match away losing five legs on the bounce.
The tight nature of this match is a fair reflection of how far Hamilton has come though in recent times and he is very much confirmed in the top eight in the world having reached the quarters of the Matchplay and the Grand Prix and the semis of the Grand Slam and the Premier League this campaign.
Taylor has also been solid if unspectacular so far this tournament, doing more than enough to win each game but without totally blowing opponents away, so Hamilton can live with that level of performance.
You really have to be touching the magic 100 average to beat Andy Hamilton these days, and obviously the Power is more than capable of that, but not consistently over nine sets anymore so Hamilton will certainly be able to take some off him.
It is odds-against with most bookies for the match to go to longer than 7.5 sets meaning the score would finish either 5-3 or 5-4 to either player. This player will almost certainly be Phil Taylor, but the Hammer is well worth backing to claw three sets away from him even if it is in a losing cause.
Phil Taylor v Andy Hamilton over 7.5 sets @ 5/4 with Sky Bet
Simon Whitlock v Raymond van Barneveld over 7.5 sets @ evens with 888sport
• Phil Taylor v Michael van Gerwen betting
• James Wade v Michael van Gerwen betting
• Phil Taylor v Raymond van Barneveld betting
• Favourites to keep on winning
• Artist to brush the champion aside
• Newton to down Special Brew
• The Bull could charge through Hamilton
• Beaton could push Wade all the way
• Favourites to prosper on Saturday night
• The Rocket could soar against the Artist
• Part and Bull to go the distance
• Comfortable afternoons for Hammer and Chizzy
• Kellett to KO Big Vince
• Priestley to roll back the years
• King and Winstanley set for five sets
• Everybody loves Raymond
• Rodriguez or Bowles to steal the show
• Dolan to continue stellar form
• Part and Cullen could deliver an epic
• Hendriks to strike the right note against Jones
• Don't expect whitewashes on night one
• Big finishes & big averages to come
• Mighty Mike can rule the world
• Hammer has sights set on title
• 9/4 Taylor turns The Power back on
• World title odds slashed as Taylor bounces back