Michael Smith reached the last eight of the Betfred World Darts Matchplay for the first time in his career following a nerve-tingling 12-10 victory over Max Hopp at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool, last night (Tuesday).
The German number one started the better in the battle of the former World Youth Champions as he took a 4-1 lead, before Smith nailed a 130 checkout to start a run of five successive legs to go 6-4 in front.
Hopp stopped the rot and later fired in an 11-dart break back to level it up at 7-7.
Smith broke straight back, only for Hopp to reply in kind in the nip-and-tuck contest, before the next four legs went with throw to take the match to a tie-break.
After Hopp missed a dart at double top, St Helens-born Smith found the same target with his last dart in hand to break throw, and then smashed in his sixth 180 of the contest on his way to a 13-darter to wrap up a thrilling victory.
He now meets Meryvn King in a quarter final showdown tomorrow night (Thursday).