World Grand Prix of Darts 2017: John Henderson Continues Run, Peter Wright Wins

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistOctober 5, 2017

EXETER, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 02: Peter Wright celebrates during Night Five of the Betway Premier League Darts at Westpoint Arena on March 2, 2017 in Exeter, England. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)
Harry Trump/Getty Images

John Henderson's fairytale rampage at the 2017 World Grand Prix of Darts continued on Thursday evening as the tournament outsider defeated Raymond van Barneveld 3-1 to confirm his place in the semi-finals.

Grand Prix favourite Peter Wright was also ejected from the running on Thursday after losing 3-1 to Mensur Suljovic, who will make his second appearance in the competition's semi-finals.

Darts veteran Simon Whitlock also booked a spot in the last four, bulldozing Dutchman Benito van de Pas 3-0 to send a statement to the rest of the contenders still left in the running.

Daryl Gurney was the last player to advance from Thursday's quarter-final slate and slanted a 3-2 scoreline in his favour against 2015 World Grand Prix champion Robert Thornton.

The semi-finals will take place on Friday evening, and we break down the latest results from the Citywest Hotel in Dublin, Ireland, as the tournament enters the business stages.

                 

Thursday's Quarter-Final Results

Simon Whitlock 3-0 Benito van de Pas

John Henderson 3-1 Raymond van Barneveld

Mensur Suljovic 3-1 Peter Wright

Daryl Gurney 3-2 Robert Thornton 

            

Recap

As if Henderson didn't already impress by ousting top seed Michael van Gerwen from the World Grand Prix in his tournament opener last Sunday, the only remaining pro tour contender defeated Van Barneveld to add another substantial notch to his belt.

Appearing entirely unfazed by the occasion, Henderson came up with the darts that mattered, and despite finishing with a lower average and a far inferior checkout percentage, per the PDC website, "Rhino" hit tops to progress:

The official PDC website provided quotes from the first-time semi-finalist after his win over "Barney," and Henderson said:

"Twelve months ago I could never had dreamed about this because I was having problems with my back, but my game's come on and I'm practising well and playing really well. 

"Getting past Michael was a big shock and now to get past Raymond is another shock, but I just play my own game.

"The double-start has helped me this week - Michael, Alan and Raymond have all struggled to get off and I've capitalised, and now I'm in the semi-finals."

Following the departures of some big names throughout the week, Wright had been picked out as the favourite to win the competition, but "The Gentle" Suljovic ensured his run came to an end in the last eight.

Third seed "Snakebite" may have been favoured to advance and got the match off to a bright start by winning the first set, but his Latvian foe thundered back with a vengeance, winning three sets in succession and celebrating to fit the occasion:

Thornton and Gurney engaged in the only quarter-final that required the maximum five sets to be played on Thursday, where it was Gurney who emerged triumphant despite neither player hitting their best form.

The PDC website indicated Gurney and Thornton finished with checkout percentages of around 30 per cent and 34 per cent, respectively, and the latter threw just two checkouts fewer than his opponent in an agonising loss.

Gurney won the first set but came to trail after Thornton took back-to-back wins of his own, only for his Northern Irish foe to gather his thoughts and finish strong, also ending his victory with double 20.

Whitlock was the first player in this year's Grand Prix to book his place in the semis, and the Australian finally made it into the final four of this competition at his eighth attempt after thrashing Van de Pas 3-0.

In a performance almost completely free of errors, Whitlock signed off with tops to mark one of his cleanest displays in recent memory, and Sky Bet put into further context just how one-sided his meeting against Van de Pas was:

The stage is now set for the semi-finals of this year's competition, and Henderson's will have to take down Gurney with another upset win if his crusade to the crown is to continue.

Meanwhile, Whitlock and Suljovic will collide on Friday as they both seek out their first appearance in a Grand Prix final, both having taken great confidence from an impressive set of quarter-final victories.

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