Daryl Gurney will have the weight of a nation on his shoulders when the Irishman takes on renaissance man Simon Whitlock in Saturday’s World Grand Prix final.
Northern Ireland’s Gurney thrilled the supportive Dublin crowd by reaching his first televised ranking final with a comprehensive 4-1 win over John Henderson.
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Henderson had knocked out Dutch superstars Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld on the way to the last four, but saw his memorable week at Dublin’s Citywest Hotel ended by ‘SuperChin’.
Gurney has reached the UK Open and World Matchplay semi-finals this year and his emergence will now continue as he challenges for the biggest title of his career.
“I’m very glad to get over that hurdle from the semi-final into the final,” Gurney told the official PDC website. “I’ve been knocking on the door in the UK Open and World Matchplay and eventually I’ve got over the finishing line.
“I’ve been trying my very best since I joined the PDC five years ago and I’m starting to reap the rewards now.
“The players are so good and although John being in the semi-finals may be a shock to the TV viewers, to the players it’s not.
“I’ve got a chance to win this title now, and if I can get in front and stay in front I don’t care what my average is as long as I get to the winning post before Simon does.
“I’m looking forward to playing Simon and he knows that he’s going to be in a battle. I’m going to go out there and try and beat him from the first dart to the very last dart.”
Whitlock held off a brilliant fightback from Mensur Suljovic to claim his place in the final with a thrilling 4-3 victory.
The Australian will be appearing in his first televised ranking final since the 2013 European Championship on Saturday, after seeing off the No 6 seed with the aid of some clinical finishing in a see-saw contest.
Whitlock landed four ton-plus checkouts as he opened up a 3-1 lead in sets, only to see Suljovic hit back as a 137 finish fired a run which saw him take the next two sets to force a decider.
Suljovic also led in the decisive seventh set, but three straight legs from Whitlock finally secured his place in the final as he continues his bid for a second TV title.
Sky Sports analyst John Part thinks Gurney “has the game” to land the first major title of his career on Saturday night, but warns the Northern Irishman that Whitlock is “a little rejuvenated”.
“It’s going to be pretty epic,” said three-time World Champion, Part. “I think Whitlock has the experience, but I think Daryl Gurney has the crowd and he also has the confidence of knowing he’s been in form for a fair while now, longer for Simon really has been.
“I think that if Daryl keeps the same attitude, be business-like, try not to get too carried away, a few celebrations here and there – that’s all he did, then I think he will probably walk away the champ.”
Saturday’s final will see a new winner of the World Grand Prix claim the trophy and a £100,000 first prize, with the runner-up guaranteed £45,000.
The biggest names in darts are competing at Dublin’s Citywest Hotel for the 2017 World Grand Prix and you can watch all the action from Saturday’s final with us only on Sky Sports Arena and Sky Sports Main Event from 8pm.
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