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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sports News: Hamilton fightback earns final spot

Andy Hamilton won a thrilling first semi-final against Simon Whitlock to reach the Ladbrokes.com World Championship final.

Hamilton started well but looked to be on his way out of the tournament when he trailed 5-3 in the best-of-11-sets match.

He dug deep, though, and took the match the full distance before battling his way over the line.

Hamilton took the first set in routine fashion with the throw and then produced the match's first 180, dropping his third dart on the floor but refocusing successfully to hit the third treble.

Whitlock missed darts at double top and double 10 and Hamilton was within a whisker of finishing 124 to take the second set, but his final dart narrowly missed the bull and a relieved Whitlock took the leg and the set at the fifth time of asking.

Hamilton took a high-class third leg of the third set and added the next to move 2-1 ahead, and the next two sets were shared.

Hamilton took a 2-0 lead against the throw in the sixth but Whitlock responded well to take the set 3-2 and level the match. That sparked a surge from the Australian, who extended his winning run to nine legs as he took the next two sets 3-0 to move within a set of victory at 5-3.

Hamilton's head had dropped and, needing treble 17 to set up a shot for the next leg, he hit two. Whitlock missed double 10, though, allowing the Stoke thrower to finally get on the scoreboard again. And it proved pivotal as he went on to take the set and took a tense third leg en route to winning the 10th to level at 5-5.

Whitlock trailed 2-1 in the final set but held his nerve for a 68 finish to take the match to 5-5, 2-2 - meaning a two-leg winning margin was needed to finish the match. Hamilton went 3-2 ahead and, though Whitlock responded with an immediate 180, Hamilton took the upper hand and an 82 finish took him into the final.

Hamilton told Sky Sports: "I'm quite emotional, I'm speechless. Simon pushed me so hard, I had to take those checkouts out to win the game. He's an awesome player - and with a broken foot as well! There's one game left now and if I grit my teeth and fight, I could win it."

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