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World Darts Championship: Day 13 preview - Michael Smith looks to build on great escape

Michael Smith came close to being knocked out of the World Darts Championship on Wednesday - being pushed all the way by Martin Schindler - but Bully Boy battled through to the fourth round and is back in action on Friday.

Schindler went 3-1 up on Smith and it looked like the diminutive German was going to cause the shock of the championship.

Kim Huybrechts defeated defending champion Peter Wright on Tuesday, but Schindler seeing off the well-fancied Smith would have been even more of an upset. Smith prevailed 4-3, though, and tackles Joe Cullen on Day 13 of the Alexandra Palace showpiece.

What: World Darts Championship
When: 15th December 2022 - 3rd January 2023
Where: Alexandra Palace, London
How to watch: Sky Sports
Odds: Michael van Gerwen 13/8, Gerwyn Price 9/2, Michael Smith 9/2, Josh Rock 9/1, Jonny Clayton 12/1

Cullen will fancy his chances in all-English affair

Michael Smith was visibly relieved when he got over the line in front against Martin Schindler on Wednesday night, but life does not get any easier for Bully Boy in round four.

Joe Cullen is in splendid form and seems well capable of giving his compatriot a rough ride.

Smith, due to his World Championship record and Grand Slam of Darts triumph, has been afforded an 8/15 quote for the match.

Smith was Alexandra Palace runner-up to Peter Wright last year - the second time he has lost in the World Championship final.

Smith, a 32-year-old from St Helens, has made it to the quarter-finals three times before, which compares favourably to Cullen's record. Rockstar, as he is known, has never got past the fourth round.

The 33-year-old Bradford man can draw on an excellent third-round performance this time, though, and looks a lively 6/4 outsider. Cullen crushed Damon Heta 4-0, averaging more than 98.

Belgians collide in early encounter

Kim Huybrechts has had two days off since beating Peter Wright, messing about in London with his best friend, and the Belgian gets back to the serious business of trying to win the World Championship in the opening match of Friday's first session.

Huybrechts has dazzled on the Alexandra Palace stage many times before, taking Phil Taylor to a deciding set in the 2015 edition, then doing the same to Gerwyn Price last year.

They were both third-round contests, so Huybrechts will be hoping he can sneak through the same stage this time.

Huybrechts is 11/5 against his younger compatriot Dimitri Van den Bergh. There are nine years between them.

Van den Bergh has twice made it to the World Championship quarter-finals and he has been handed a 4/11 quote for this all-Belgian clash.

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Fireman looking to retain red-hot form

Alan Soutar has been enjoying lots of banter with the Alexandra Palace crowd - he is a fireman who also trains guide dogs for the blind - and the 44-year-old Scot is having another fairytale run in the biggest tournament of them all.

The Arbroath man made it to the fourth round on his debut last year - and has repeated the dose this time.

Soutar has already won three matches, losing just two sets in the process, and ninth seed Danny Noppert was his third-round victim. Soutar is 1/1 to continue his streak with victory over Gabriel Clemens on Friday afternoon.

The 4/5 about Clemens may be of interest to punters who watched the German deliver a killer bullseye in his previous match.

Clemens came up against a buzzing opponent in the shape of Jim Williams, but averaged 97.55 and held his nerve at key moments.

Mighty Mike back in action

Michael van Gerwen could probably not believe that his performance on Wednesday night was enough only for a 4-2 victory over Mensur Suljovic.

Van Gerwen produced some tungsten from the gods, averaging 107.66, but his plucky opponent refused to buckle under the onslaught.

Van Gerwen, the only player in the tournament to average more than 100 in each of his opening two matches, will headline Friday evening's session against Dirk van Duijvenbode.

Thursday's first match saw Van Duijvenbode defeat Ross Smith in 4-3 thriller to set up a meeting with Van Gerwen, who is 1/4 to defend his compatriot.

It is difficult to see anyone getting the better of Van Gerwen if he retains his form all the way through to the January 3rd final. He has been focused and clinical in the event so far.

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