World Darts Championship: Michael Smith reflects on stunning tie-break win over Jonny Clayton | Darts News

Josh Gorton

Comment and analysis

Smith challenged Clayton’s average of 102.48 and 14 180 to prevail in a seven-set epic; 2019 finalist will face defending champion Gerwyn Price on New Year’s Day for a place in the semi-finals; watch the action of Day 13 live on Sky Sports Darts on Thursdays at 12.30pm and 7pm

Last updated: 30/12/21 8:02

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Michael Smith booked his seat in the World Darts Championship quarter-finals against Gerwyn Price after beating Jonny Clayton in a thrilling round of 16 match

Michael Smith booked his seat in the World Darts Championship quarter-finals against Gerwyn Price after beating Jonny Clayton in a thrilling round of 16 match

Michael Smith insists self-confidence was key following his epic tiebreak win over Jonny Clayton on a memorable night at the World Darts Championship.

Smith produced an inspired display to reduce Clayton’s hopes of clinching a fifth TV title in 2021, challenging an average of 102.48 and 14 highs from “The Ferret” to reach the quarter-finals.

The Welshman took a two-set lead with a staggering 110.6 average, only for Smith who pulled out three consecutive sets to take the lead.

The contest then exploded as the pair traded three consecutive ton-pluses in a stunning sixth set, but after an upside-down ending, “Bully Boy” kept his cool to record a famous win.

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This was heralded as potentially the match of the tournament and certainly lived up to the hype, with 25 highs and five ton-plus finishes.

The quality was relentless, but after suffering a painful tie-break defeat to eventual winner Rob Cross in the 2018 event, Smith was relieved to be on the side of the winners on this occasion.

“That deserved to be the final,” said Smith Sky Sports.

“That game looked like Rob Cross’s in 2018. I thought I was here in this situation before when I had 96 to take out Rob, but luckily I got away with it and got it.

Smith reached his third quarter-final at the PDC World Championship

Smith reached his third quarter-final at the PDC World Championship

“Going into that game, I kept saying to myself: ‘I have a game to beat anyone, I have to keep believing in it and keep doing it.’

“My score was not the best tonight, but I did it at the right time. I threw the right shots at the right time and I am really happy to have won.

“Jonny was probably number 1 or number 2 all year. Getting that win was huge for my confidence, and the way I did it with 72, 64 and 68. [finishes] – those last double bolts were coming in. “

Smith and Clayton scored three straight wins in an epic sixth set of their round of 16 clash at the World Cup

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Smith and Clayton scored three straight wins in an epic sixth set of their round of 16 clash at the World Cup

Smith and Clayton scored three straight wins in an epic sixth set of their round of 16 clash at the World Cup

Smith – runner-up to Ally Pally in 2019 – is a perennial contender in the later stages of big events, but so far the inaugural TV title has proved elusive.

The 31-year-old has relented in five big finals since 2018, but as he embarks on a tantalizing quarterfinal showdown against defending champion Gerwyn Price on New Year’s Day, he’s philosophical about his prospects.

“I’ve been here for a long time now. I think it’s my 11th world championship,” added Smith.

After losing the opening set, Price pulled out 12 consecutive stops to eliminate Dirk van Duijvenbode in the last 16.

After losing the opening set, Price pulled out 12 consecutive stops to eliminate Dirk van Duijvenbode in the last 16.

“He’s coming [a major title], but I won’t be in a hurry, I won’t want it too much. This is what I’ve been guilty of in the past, wanting things too fast.

“I just want to stay focused, keep doing what I’ve been doing for the past 12 months. You can see it’s finally coming into my game now.

“I’ve had a really bad world championship for the past two years and this year I’m finally giving a good account of myself, so no matter who I get or what I do, as long as I play darts on this stage, I’m happy.”

Mardle: That was 36 sexy darts legs!

Wayne Mardle attempted to put his excitement into words after a classic match between Smith and Clayton

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Wayne Mardle attempted to put his excitement into words after a classic match between Smith and Clayton

Wayne Mardle attempted to put his excitement into words after a classic match between Smith and Clayton

Smith has been touted as a future world champion since he burst onto the scene nearly a decade ago, such was his prodigious talent.

He now appears to have the temper to match his outrageous prowess, and Wayne Mardle believes “Bully Boy” has all the credentials to lift the Sid Waddell Trophy on January 3rd.

“I think he’s more mature. It’s not the finished article. He’s still in his 30s, which is sickening again because he already has so much pedigree,” joked Mardle.

“It was in a final here, a Premier League final, the Matchplay final. He almost won everything, but unfortunately he still hasn’t won anything for him.

“He’s a winner on tour, seemingly every single season. He has to believe he’s a winner, because he is.

“When he wins, it’s going to be, ‘Well, of course he won, that’s brilliant’, but until he really does, whether he knows he can or not, we don’t know.

“The standard he plays by, of course he can win. Believe it Michael!”

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