PHIL TAYLOR came from two sets down to claim the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship title with a thrilling 7-4 defeat of Michael van Gerwen as he became the first winner of the Sid Waddell Trophy at Alexandra Palace on New Year’s Day.
The 52-year-old Stoke great emerged victorious in one of the sport’s great matches to win his 16th World Championship title, although he was pushed all the way by a brilliant van Gerwen performance.
The Dutch ace, 23, led 2-0 and 4-2, but missed two chances to move 5-2 up before Taylor hit back by winning three successive sets to move ahead for the first time at 5-4.
Taylor then won the tenth set 3-1 to establish a two-set cushion for the first time, before going on to take his fifth successive set as he swept to the £200,000 title.
“I’m the proudest man in the world at the moment and to have my family watching makes this a very special night,” said Taylor. “It’s not sunk in yet and I’m very emotional.
“There was a 180 when the crowd were singing Sid Waddell’s name and I looked up and thought he’d put that in for me, and also Bruce Spendley [who refereed the final] was retiring too.
“I’m World Champion again and I’m so happy now.”
Van Gerwen had knocked out defending champion Adrian Lewis and hit a nine-darter against world number three during his run to the final, which sees him move to a career-high fourth in the PDC Order of Merit after taking £100,000 as runner-up.
“I don’t think I played as well tonight as I did in my earlier games,” said van Gerwen. “My doubles were great but my scoring power wasn’t as good and I think that was the difference.
“I felt great but it didn’t happen and it’s disappointing after having a good run that I didn’t finish the job off.
“I missed two doubles to lead 5-2 and that hurt me, and Phil got more confident and played better as the game went on.
“It’s a nice achievement to reach the final but it hurts to lose.”
He added: “I would like to thank the crowd for their incredible support over the last couple of weeks. They have added to what has been a very special time for me”
Van Gerwen began his first World Championship final confidently with a 14-dart finish in the opening leg, before Taylor levelled in amazing fashion by converting a 170 checkout to bring the capacity Alexandra Palace crowd to its feet.
The World Grand Prix champion hit double eight to win the third leg before Taylor won the fourth, thanks to landing double seven with a pressure third dart, and was waiting on 85 in the decider when van Gerwen powered in a fantastic 140 checkout to win the set.
Taylor won the first leg of set two by taking out 68, before van Gerwen took the second, which was followed by an 11-dart finish from the Dutchman as he moved 2-1 up before confirming a two-set advantage on double 16.
Van Gerwen then opened the third set in fine style with another 11-dart finish, and after Taylor levelled on tops the Dutchman took out a clinical 123 finish on the bull.
Taylor refused to buckle to his opponent and then won the fourth leg before sealing the set in the fifth, thanks to an accurate third dart at double 16 as he got off the mark.
Van Gerwen, who defeated James Wade to reach the final, kicked off the fourth set with a 177, before taking the opening leg with a 127 checkout before Taylor levelled in 14 darts and hit a 180 as he won the third.
Van Gerwen hit a 14-dart finish of his own to win the fourth leg, but a missed dart at tops for a 3-1 lead allowed Taylor hit the same bed to level the game.
Van Gerwen began the fifth set by taking the first leg on double eight, before Taylor hit a 13-dart finish to win the second, followed by a two-dart 65 finish to break.
The fourth leg saw Taylor miss a dart at double top to win the set, and van Gerwen took out a 90 finish, on double 14, to level before taking out 70 in the decider to move ahead for the second time.
The Dutch superstar made a fine start to the sixth set as he posted back-to-back 13-darters to take command, and after Taylor hit back with a 74 checkout it was van Gerwen won took out another 13-dart finish, on double 18, to restore a two-set lead.
The pair shared the opening two legs of the seventh set before van Gerwen landed double nine for an 83 finish in the third, after Taylor was off-target with a dart at bullseye.
Van Gerwen missed a chance to win the set in the fourth, when he was off-target on double 19 for a 158 checkout to allow Taylor back in to level on double four.
The fifth leg saw van Gerwen off-target with a second chance to win the set – this time on double 16 as he missed the chance to lead 5-2 – and Taylor took out 51 in two darts to stay on the Dutchman’s tail.
Four missed doubles from Taylor proved costly as van Gerwen hit double top to make a winning start to the eighth set, but the Stoke legend erased those errors in the next with a 136 checkout.
Taylor then won the third leg on double eight before van Gerwen hit a brace of 140 scores to forge ahead in the fourth, only to miss a dart at double top to allow Taylor in on double three to level the match at four sets all.
Van Gerwen hit a 13-dart finish to kick off the ninth set before Taylor won the second leg with a fabulous 11-darter.
Van Gerwen won the third on double top after both players had missed a dart at the same bed, before Taylor posted his second 11-darter of the set to win the fourth leg before taking the decider in only 14 darts to move ahead for the first time at 5-4.
Taylor continued his momentum in the tenth set as he won the first two legs, which included another 11-dart finish, as he extended his winning run to four successive legs.
He missed a dart at double 16 for the set in the next before van Gerwen finished 106 to hit back but Taylor finished 68 in the fourth leg to move a set away from the title.
Van Gerwen hit tops for a 13-dart finish to make a positive start to set 11, before Taylor won the second, finishing on the same bed for a 12-darter.
Taylor missed three darts at doubles in the third leg, but van Gerwen wasted four of his own and the Stoke ace hit double nine to move to the brink of victory, and he forged ahead with a 174 score in the next before taking out 91 to claim triumph in a classic final.
“I was two 2-0 and 4-2 down and I started looking up to the heavens for Sid Waddell to help me out, but Michael was playing superbly and he just wasn’t missing,” admitted Taylor.
“I was trying to push Michael to the limit and put him under pressure. He is a truly phenomenal player and I give Michael every credit – there were times when he hit some fantastic finishes and it crippled me a little bit.
“He was miles in front but I kept clinging on and I began hitting 177s when they had been 139s earlier in the game – I was hitting the treble 19 probably better than I did the treble 20.”
Van Gerwen’s rise to fourth in the PDC Order of Merit means that he will now compete in the McCoy’s Premier League Darts
“I’m in the top four of the world and I’m very happy,” said van Gerwen. “I’ve done that by myself with my good results this year and
“I am very excited about this opportunity and I hope to play well in the Premier League.”
thanks to PDC darts for the write up