Adrian Lewis showed he has the fighting qualities to go with his outstanding talent when digging deep to knock fourth seed Roland Scholten out of the Ladbrokes.com World Championship.
Phil Taylor’s protege battled back from 2-0 down to win the third-round match 4-3 and stay on course for a possible clash with his mentor in the final at Purfleet’s Circus Tavern next Monday.
And it was not just the deficit Lewis had to overcome, for he has also been suffering from flu, which disrupted preparations for the biggest match of his life so far.
Scholten, from The Hague, made a typically fast start and his metronomic consistency on the treble 20 took him to the first two sets.
But then his 20-year-old opponent found form and stormed to seven consecutive legs on the way to capturing the next three sets, before the Dutchman hung in to force a decider having earlier missed five doubles for a 3-2 lead.
A 160 checkout for the youngster nicknamed ‘Jackpot’ earned him a vital break in the final set and that appeared to break Scholten’s resolve, Lewis finishing it off with double 10.
“That shows I’m a fighter,” said world number 20 Lewis, who was known this time last year only for being Taylor’s practice partner but is now the biggest threat to the 12-times champion.
“I was never really out of the match but I came back strongly.
“I saw the goalposts when I was 3-2 up but I didn’t win a leg in the next set and had to get my head back on.
“I’ve had a bit of flu over the last couple of days which has taken all my energy. I’ve had to have plenty of rest and I didn’t get up until 4pm yesterday.”
In the quarter-finals Lewis will meet Peter Manley, for whom a change of shirt worked wonders as he also recovered from 2-0 down to win 4-3 against Dennis Smith.
Nothing went right for Manley in the early stages and after the second set he went backstage to change out of his red and black shirt into his lucky one with a pink flamingo pattern.
Smith was visibly unsettled by the delay and that manifested itself in his play, for the world number 21 could not sustain his fine form and the fifth seed hit back to level the match.
After edging ahead again, Smith had two darts to win the match in set six but missed, allowing Manley to take it to a decider with an unconventional 31 checkout via 10, five and double eight.
The two-time finalist then seized control and was true to his nickname of ‘One Dart’ by wrapping it up with a single attempt at double top.
Manley insisted there had been no gamesmanship involved in his change of shirt and explained: “It was a difficult problem because I’ve put on a few pounds and the shirt I wore at the start was feeling a bit tight around the arms.
“I had asked for the flamingo shirt to be ready for me before the match, but for some reason it wasn’t so someone had to go and fetch it.
“I wouldn’t have thought Dennis was too upset about it. He was practising on stage whereas I wasn’t throwing a dart.”
About his comeback, Manley added: “I felt relaxed but I didn’t expect to give Dennis a shot to win the match. But he gave me a chance, I hit the 31 and came back well.”