Darts: Relentless Taylor reaches full power

Phil Taylor looked almost unstoppable in his pursuit of an 11th world title when he beat Wayne Mardle 6-2 in the semi-final of the PDC world championship here last night. He will now face Kevin Painter, who whitewashed the legendary Bob Anderson in today's final.

Taylor, who will be playing in his 13th successive final, got off to a flying start before a fightback from Wardle gave the packed house a sniff of some late-night drama. Taylor, however, responded to the challenge and won the final set 3-0 in rampant fashion.

With Taylor leading 5-1, Mardle enjoyed a purple patch and reeled off three successive legs before Taylor responded to clinch victory. Taylor said: "Now I can relax a bit. I'm guaranteed a good pay-day but I want that 11th world title. If I don't win I'll be absolutely gutted."

Painter was bitterly disappointed after crashing out of the World Matchplay event at the first-round stage five months ago. But that defeat, by Alex Roy, proved to be a turning point for the 35-year-old and he has looked a world-class performer this week.

Nicknamed "The Artist", Painter went quietly about his business with wins over Paul Williams, Ronnie Baxter and the talented newcomer Mark Dudbridge. But Painter, who lost a thrilling semi-final to the eventual champion, John Part, last year, moved through the gears against the 1988 world champion to secure a 6-0 whitewash. "I feel sorry for Bob because I wouldn't like that to happen to me," Painter said.

At Frimley Green, Raymond van Barneveld began the defence of his BDO world title by easily defeating the qualifier Peter Hunt in straight sets. The three-times champion did just enough to overcome the challenge of the unseeded New Zealander and will now met England's Paul Hogan in the second round.

Earlier, Hogan had easily disposed of the former quarter-finalist Bob Taylor. Hogan came from behind in the first two sets to win 3-0.

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