Marvellous Merv beats Barne

DARTS: Mervyn King came out on top in an Embassy World Championship quarter-final classic tonight, knocking out tournament favourite Raymond Barneveld with a nail-biting 5-3 victory.

Mervyn King came out on top in an Embassy World Championship quarter-final classic tonight,

knocking out tournament favourite Raymond Barneveld with a nail-biting 5-3 victory.

The 35-year-old from Ipswich produced a devastating display of precision at the oche to lead 4-1 and then had to resist a tenacious fightback from the Dutchman, who captured the title in 1998 and 1999.

Barneveld was the tip of most pundits to regain the crown this year after landing the World Masters on the same Frimley Green stage in November and had strolled through his first two matches this week.

He was detained only 21 minutes by Erik Clarys in the last round, but it quickly became evident tonight that the Englishman, who wore a Holland football shirt in his previous match, was not about to roll over.

King, this time in an England darts shirt, made the better start and went 2-0 ahead.

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Barneveld then won his first leg against the throw to pull one back before the fourth seed reopened his two-set cushion just before the interval.

A 156 checkout by the former postman from The Hague could not stop King from moving 4-1 up and in the next set he could have closed out the match by hitting the bull on a 170 out-shot, but his last dart missed by an inch.

World number five Barneveld took advantage and, now in top gear and matching King in the 180 count, the former champion clawed his way back into it, reducing his arrears to 4-3 as his opponent began to feel the pressure.

But before Barneveld could take the match to a decider, in which he would have had the momentum as well as the advantage of throwing first, King hit a magnificent 131 checkout to edge over the winning line.

An amazing 27 maximum scores of 180 were achieved in the match, Barneveld edging a 14-13 majority, and King acknowledged it had been one of the great Lakeside clashes.

"It's every player's dream to be involved in a game like that," said King, known as 'Merv The Swerve'.

"I started better than I hoped and was delighted to be 3-1 up at the interval because Ray is a phenomenal player.

"I just played the board rather than Ray, which you have to do against him, and I held my nerve and kept my game together. I'm just thankful to be through.

"That was the best match I've played in the Embassy and hopefully this will be my year.

"If I play properly for the rest of the tournament someone will have to do something extra special to beat me."

King's semi-final opponent will be Colin Monk, who scraped home 5-4 against Wayne Mardle in a thriller which even surpassed the earlier match for drama.

Monk, second-round conqueror of title-holder John 'Boy' Walton, was not expected to beat the 'Mouth of the South' but set up another upset when he stormed into a 4-1 advantage.

Everything was going the way of the pugnacious Basingstoke builder, whose game is based on guts, and he even came back to win a leg in which he had trailed by 336 points with Mardle missing 12 darts at a double.

But the fast-throwing eighth seed from Dagenham then moved into overdrive and reeled in his opponent, levelling the match at 4-4 with a breathtaking run when he won nine out of 12 legs.

Monk, however, refused to buckle even after losing the first leg of the decider and hit back by taking the next three to reach the semi-finals for the second time.

"I'm just relieved to get through. I was absolutely drained at the end,' said 34-year-old Monk, whose previous appearance in the last eight was four years ago.

"I thought Wayne was home and dry when he went 1-0 up in the last set. He was all over me like a rash.

"At 4-1 I was thinking it was happy days, but next thing I had the world on my shoulders. My arm was shaking and my knees rattling - I was worn out.'

Mardle, also known as 'Hawaii Five-O-One' for the colourful shirts he wears on stage, admitted his comeback had taken its toll towards the end.

"I pulled it back and thought I had him, but I ran out of steam and came up short,' said the 28-year-old. "Hopefully in a couple of years I can win this title.

"I should have won it, but at least I can get Colin to buy me loads of beers now!'

The first finalist in the ladies' World Championship was decided when title-holder Trina Gulliver of Leamington Spa prevailed in a tie-break leg against Belgium's Vikki Pruim.

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