HUNTLY’S John Henderson admits he never imagined he would defeat two world champions after suffering back problems.
The 44-year-old defeated five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld 3-1 to reach the semi-final of the World Grand Prix in Dublin.
Masada ace Huntly, a 500-1 outsider when the tournament began, had already knocked out world number one and defending champion Michael van Gerwen in the opening round.
However, Henderson admits that beating the world’s top stars seemed like a pipe-dream last year due to injury problems.
The world number 32 said: “Beating Michael was one of the biggest things in my career, and Raymond’s another big player.
“Getting past Michael was a big shock and now to get past Raymond is another shock, but I just play my own game.
“Twelve months ago I could never have dreamed about this because I was having problems with my back.
“However, my game’s come on and I’m practising well and playing really well.
“I’m looking forward to the semi-finals and I hope there’s more to come.
“I know I’m good enough and, hopefully, I can keep this form up for the semis.”
Having reached the first televised semi-final of his career, Henderson will now face Daryl Gurney in the last four of the double-start tournament.
Henderson came from a set down to shock two-time World Grand Prix finalist van Barneveld.
After the game’s opening two legs were shared, Van Barneveld punished four missed doubles from Henderson to take the third and then finished 94 – to follow up an earlier 98 – as he claimed the set.
Henderson then won the second set by the same scoreline, having led 2-0, to level the contest before claiming a see-saw third in stunning fashion.
Van Barneveld came from a leg down to lead 2-1 before the Scot forced a decider, but a miss at double 16 from the Dutchman allowed Henderson in to finish 88 on the bull to move 2-1 up in sets.
A brace of double 10 finishes moved Henderson two legs up in set four, with double seven and double 10 keeping the Dutchman’s hopes alive briefly before the Scot fired in tops for the biggest win of his career.
“The double-start has helped me this week,” said Henderson.
“ Michael, Alan and Raymond have all struggled to get off and I’ve capitalised, and now I’m in the semi-finals.
“I lost the first set against Alan Norris so I knew I could come back and when Raymond gave me the chances, I took them.”