MICHAEL VAN GERWEN goes for a fourth world title tonight after exchanging verbals in an ill-tempered oche row.
But the pair – who both hit 170 Big Fish finishes – were far from best buddies as they expressed their unhappiness last night about each other’s behaviour.
The DreamMaker, 28, complained in the third set to what he felt was encroachment from Van Gerwen, who illegally stood in the red exclusion zone as his opponent was throwing.
Separately, the Belgian purposefully slowed down his throwing rhythm to try to disrupt Van Gerwen’s wondrous flow.
In the third set, Van Gerwen, 33, sledged No.15 seed Van den Bergh on the stage, essentially telling him to quicken up.
Those slowcoach tactics did not work as Van Gerwen hit an untouchable average of 108.28 and won 18 of 22 legs.
Van Gerwen said: “Dimi said I was stamping. I didn’t stamp at all. That is what he said.
“Then the commentary talked about it and I was standing in the exclusion zone.
“Just look towards my last 50-100 games and where I stand in my game. You can base your opinion on that. I always do the same.
“I never do anything to put someone off. If they lose, they always have to same something.
“He was trying something that wasn’t there. It was not a big thing. People want to make big things.”
Tonight, the three-time world darts champion will face Michael Smith in the final – they also met at the same stage in 2019 – and it promises to be a humdinger.
Van Gerwen added: “It feels phenomenal. It means a lot to me. I gave it everything. I played out of my skin.
“It cost so much energy but I’m able to do it. The crowd were behind me again and that feels phenomenal.
“I don’t know what his problem was, you have to concentrate on your own game. Games can get tense but you have to focus.
“Michael Smith is not going to stop me – nobody will stop me. I feel good, comfortable, I am playing good darts and the crowd deserve a final like this.”
Smith earlier defeated German Giant Gabriel Clemens to maintain his record of never losing an Ally Pally semi-final.
And the big-scoring Englishman will hope it is third-time lucky, after twice being on the losing end on the biggest stage.
The St Helens thrower, 32, hit 19 180s and nailed FIVE ton-plus checkouts as he seeks to win the title and bag the £500,000 prize which would also see him shoot to No1 in the World rankings.
Smith said: “I banned my kids today as they put me off. But they’ll be back for the final.
“Before the final, I will lay in bed all day and watch episodes of Catchphrase. Every morning, I watch them — there is nothing else on the TV at that time.”
The Welshman donned the bulky earmuffs after getting relentless stick from the Ally Pally crowd during his quarter-final loss.
But Van Gerwen reckons world No .1 Price is too good to need such gimmicks and “shouldn’t have put himself in that position”.
MVG said: “I saw the ear defenders in the backroom and I said to Gezzy, ‘You don’t have the balls to put them on’ — but he did.
“I was trying to wind him up. In his position, with his capabilities, how big he is in darts, I would not have done it.
“Would I wear them? I bought them once and gave them to my daughter!
“Should players be allowed to use them? I don’t think so. It has never been done in darts before.
“Also Gezzy, he doesn’t need them.
“He is going through a tough period, so he is trying to think about things. He shouldn’t put himself in that position — but that’s darts.
“I have never been in that position. It is up to him how he deals with it.
“The crowd are part of the game, you have to deal with it.”
Price brought out the ear defenders when he trailed Gabriel Clemens 3-1 in their last-eight tie on New Year’s Day.
But he only wore them for one set as the German dispatched him 5-1.
Though players are not allowed to wear earphones during match-play, he got permission from the PDC before the game took place.
As he departed Ally Pally, Price posted a message on social media threatening to boycott the tournament due to the relentless booing and jeering he gets there every year.
The morning after the night before, Price deleted ALL of his posts on his Instagram page, which has more than 220,000 followers — but the account is still active.
There is a concern that the 37-year-old, who has invested his millions of darts winnings into property and greyhounds, could walk away from the sport.
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