Betfair World Matchplay 2012
PHIL TAYLOR 10-8 MERVYN KING
PHIL TAYLOR overcame the determined challenge of Mervyn King with a 10-8 victory in their Betfair World Matchplay clash to begin his challenge for a 13th Winter Gardens title in style.
The reigning champion enjoyed a tight struggle for much of the game, sharing the opening ten legs before establishing a 7-5 cushion - only for King to hit back and level at eight-all.
King - who hit eight 180s in the game - crucially missed three darts to lead as Taylor edged 9-8 up, and he went on to seal the win in the next on double top.
"I was nervous tonight to be honest but I got the job done and I'm through," said Taylor. "Mervyn was probably the better player through the game - he hit loads of 180s but he missed some crucial doubles.
"He played well and he's getting back to his best. I thought he was going to hit a nine-darter at one point and he'll gradually get better over the next few months.
"When I was 8-7 up I thought to myself to hold my darts, but Mervyn broke me back - and in the end that double two I threw to go 9-7 up was one of the sweetest double two's I'll ever hit!"
King, with the advantage of throw, held his own in the early stages, with neither player having a chance to break in the opening eight legs - which included a 13-darter from the Norfolk thrower in leg three after he opened with back-to-back 180s to set up a potential nine-darter.
King also enjoyed an 11-darter and finished 101, while Taylor - using a new style of dart - added his only 180 of the game in leg eight, which he won in 13 darts.
Taylor missed the first chance to break in leg nine as King scrambled home double two to lead 5-4, but the Stoke ace levelled with a 52 finish and then finally broke his opponent's throw on double eight to lead for the first time.
Taylor added a 171 and double four to lead 7-5, but after trading maximum scores in the next a miss at tops allowed his opponent back in on double ten to pull back to 7-6.
Taylor again replied to a 180 from King by landing a 171, and took out 94 in two darts to move two legs clear at 8-6 - only for King to dramatically level the contest.
The former Blackpool semi-finalist finished 70 on double 16 to win the 15th leg, and then followed a key 180 by finishing 61 on tops, with Taylor waiting on 40, to level.
King then hit a 180 in the next, with Taylor adding a 171 once more only to see his opponent have the chance to regain the lead - only for King to miss three darts on the wire of double 12.
Taylor, typically, made him pay by finishing 68 on double two, and he hit a 177 in the next before posting tops to seal a hard-fought victory.
As well as bidding to win a record-equalling fifth World Matchplay title, Taylor is battling to keep hold of his status as world number one, with Adrian Lewis poised to take over at the top of the PDC Order of Merit.
"The pressure's building a bit," admits Taylor. "People keep reminding me that Adrian can be world number one, and if he does that I'll be the proudest person in the world and also the unhappiest, and I can't knock him for what he's doing.
"He's getting everything he deserves at the moment and it's a big challenge for me this week."
MARK WEBSTER 10-6 COLIN LLOYD
Left-hander Webster, a quarter-finalist last year, produced a confidence-boosting display in a tense clash, with Lloyd hitting a fine 140 checkout to stay in touch with the Welshman at 6-4.
However, Webster ended the game the stronger by winning three of the final four legs - including a key 116 checkout - to book his place in the last 16.
The game's opening four legs all went against the throw, with Lloyd hitting a 180 in the first and a 66 finish in the third as Webster took the second on tops and the fourth with an 81 checkout.
The Welsh ace then landed a 180 in the fifth and, after both players missed the bull, he landed double six to lead for the first time, took out 110 to break in a key sixth leg - after Lloyd hit a 171 to leave 32 - and then posted a maximum and double ten to take a 5-2 lead.
Lloyd won his first leg in five on double 18 to hit back in the eighth, and after Webster finished tops to win his sixth leg of the game the Essex star powered in a spectacular 140 checkout, hitting treble 20 and two double tops, to pull back to 6-4.
He also hit a 174 in the next, but Webster finished 94 on tops to move 7-4 up and regain his cushion.
Misses from the Welshman allowed Lloyd to hit back in the 12th leg, only for Webster to then fire in a 180 and double ten before taking out 116 on tops, with his opponent waiting on 40, to move to the brink of victory at 9-5.
Lloyd hit a 180 and finished tops for a 14-darter to stay in the hunt, but his challenge was ended in the next leg as Webster took out 62 on double 12 to complete the win.
"That was a real battle against a player who's in some good form at the moment, but I think that I deserved the win in the end," said Webster. "I didn't think I played that well but all that mattered was getting through.
"I've not been playing brilliant darts recently and I'm a bit down on my confidence, but I tried not to get frustrated and I've got three days to prepare to play Andy, because that will be a tough match.
"He's a brilliant player, he's solid and he's got a great attitude, so I'm looking forward to it."
Date : 24-07-2012