SIMON Stevenson’s assault on the UK Open title is still alive and kicking after he produced one of the greatest come backs that this prestigious tournament has ever seen.
Still buzzing from his performance, the night before, when he put out the five-times world champion Raymond van Barneveld, the Mirror Man took the early initiative in the round of 32 against Kim Huybrechts and went 4-0 up in 13, 18, 16 and 13.
The Belgian responded by taking three on the bounce and then came a crucial leg where Huybrechts had the darts to level at 4-4.
But three missed darts at double 18 let Simon in to move 5-3 in front.
YES: Simon Stevenson punches the air with delight after coming back from a 7-3 deficit against Dave Chisnall to defeat the World Ranked No.12 10-9 and take his place in the last eight of the UK Open.
Huybrechts was still hanging in there and finished an 18-darter with a kill of 106 before Stevenson’s two-leg advantage was restored with a win in 17.
The Belgian again rallied though, drew level at 6-6 and could have dented a lesser man's confidence but when push came to shove, it was the Plymouth marksman who had the better response.
And the response was better to such a degree that Huybrechts never won another leg.
Simon took four on the bounce in 17, 12, 11 and 16 for a 10-6 victory that put him in to the last 16.
The draw paired him against Dave Chisnall, a player who Simon had never played before, but it was the Plymouth marksman who got the first leg on the board.
The World No.12 then stepped up a gear and showed his class by taking five on the bounce in 20, 16, 13, 14 and 15.
Stevenson stemmed the tide with a 17-darter only for the 2010 World Championship runner-up to restore his four-game advantage with another 15-darter.
Two legs in 16 from Stevenson and two in 20 and 15 from Chisnall saw the Morecambe thrower lead at 8-4, putting him just two legs away from a place in the last eight.
But Stevenson did not flinch, stuck to the task in hand and won the 13th leg in 20 darts to trail 8-5.
Then came a three-game salvo that any player in the world would have been proud of when Simon won them all in 15 darts with outshots of 150, 104 and 128 respectively.
The scoreboard now showed Stevenson 8, Chisnell 8, but a win in 17 edged Simon in front for the first time at 9-8, a lead he had not had since the opening leg.
Chisnell showed his fighting spirit by hitting a 15-darter to level at 9-9, but when given his chance it was Simon Stevenson who prevailed with his fourth 15-darter to win 10-9 and will take his place in the last eight tomorrow afternoon.
Buoyed by an outstanding performance Stevenson said: “It’s incredible to be in the quarters, I thought I was dead and buried but I hung in there and took my opportunities when they came.
“I was just trying to stay as calm as I possibly could but to win that one is truly unbelievable.
“The crowd really pushed me on, it’s been a fantastic atmosphere all weekend and I’m looking forward to tomorrow so much – who knows how far I can go.”
At World ranked No.68, Stevenson is the lowest ranked player left in the competition. He is already guaranteed an order of merit boost of 12,500 points and after tonight’s stupendous performance, who would say that the Mirror Man can’t now go all the way?