Michael van Gerwen landed 10 180s to begin his defence of the Dubai Masters title with a hard-fought 10-7 win over Peter Wright on Thursday.
Dave Chisnall, Gary Anderson and Phil Taylor also secured semi-final places and will vie with Van Gerwen for the title on Friday night.
Van Gerwen has been victorious in all three previous Dubai Masters events since the World Series of Darts was introduced in 2013, and he kicked off this year’s tournament in a game of the highest quality against Wright in the unique outdoor arena.
Wright gave as good as he got during a thrilling contest, and led four times as the pair enjoyed a fine duel, but Van Gerwen found an extra gear to reel off the final four legs without reply from 7-6 down.
“Peter put me massively under pressure and I’m delighted to have produced a performance like this, because I really had to,” said Van Gerwen, who now meets Chisnall in the semi-finals.
“Dave’s a fantastic player and he did really well tonight and he’s capable of doing really good things. I feel good and I feel confident and I really want to win this title again.”
Chisnall took out finishes of 130, 110 and 105 in his impressive 10-1 defeat of Adrian Lewis, while world champion Anderson impressed with a heavy-scoring 10-8 win over Raymond van Barneveld.
Taylor, meanwhile, took out finishes of 170 and 110 in successive legs at a key moment in mid-game as he defeated James Wade 10-2, book-ending the performance with 13-darters, hitting three 180s and taking the final six legs without reply.
Adrian Lewis 1-10 Dave Chisnall
Phil Taylor 10-2 James Wade
Gary Anderson 10-8 Raymond van Barneveld
Michael van Gerwen 10-7 Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen v Dave Chisnall
Gary Anderson v Phil Taylor