Phil Taylor has his sights firmly set on a remarkable 10th world title when the 2002 Skol World Championship gets under way at the Circus Tavern in Purfleet, Essex, today.
"I practised a lot for this tournament and I'm really, really excited about it," he said. "I am also a bit nervous which is good and I think it is going to be the best one ever, to be honest."
Taylor, nicknamed "The Power", will face the debutant Paul Williams in the first round tomorrow and is expected to cruise into the next phase without too many problems.
However, Taylor suffered a shock first-round defeat to the qualifier Kevin Painter at the World Grand Prix Championship in October and will take nothing for granted. He insists he has learned from that rare setback and added: "I'm hungrier than I've ever been, so all those players who feel I can be beaten are going to be shown I am out to win and no one will be in my way.
"I have been doing loads of practice, three or four hours a day. I'm feeling good.
"Alan Warriner played very well in Ireland but it's going to be difficult for him. Everybody is after him now."
Taylor feels, despite his premature exit from the World Grand Prix, that the pressure is still on him as he goes into the World Championship as the clear favourite.
Taylor said: "It's put more pressure on me. They are all good players or else they wouldn't be here. But I will be ready on Saturday."
Others expected to be leading challengers, apart from Warriner, are the local favourite Rod Harrington, Steve Beaton, Peter Manley and the Mexborough-based Dennis Priestley.
Warriner, who meets Reg Harding in the first round, said: "I'm hoping to kick on after my win in Ireland. The longer format will suit the better players so if I lose it is my own fault.
"Harding will be a tough customer as there is still fight in the old dog yet. Harding has been unlucky in the big tournaments, always drawing a top player in the first round, but I won't be relaxed at all."Reuse content