Darts: Taylor already looking ahead to No 1 battle

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The Independent Online

Phil Taylor is determined to win back his No 1 ranking after being crowned the 2002 Skol World Champion in Purfleet.

Taylor remains second in the world rankings, behind Alan Warriner, despite his 7-0 thrashing of Peter Manley in Saturday night's final at the Circus Tavern.

That victory was Taylor's tenth world title and secured him a cheque for £50,000. He also walked away with an extra £1,000 for the highest checkout of the tournament – 167 against Shayne Burgess in the second round. However, he is already looking ahead. "My ambition now is to get my No 1 spot back," he said. "I am heading for Eastbourne, which if I win that will put me back on top."

Meanwhile, Taylor insists it would be fantastic for the sport if his mentor Eric Bristow could once again qualify for a major tournament.

The five-times world champion is still loved by the British public and has massive support wherever he goes.

He missed out on a place at the World Championship after failing to win the qualifying tournament in Birmingham in early December. However, Taylor, who speaks regularly to the man who helped him reach the top, believes Bristow can still compete with the best.

"I think he can qualify," said Taylor. "He has got to stop the exhibition work and get back on the practice board. If Eric had been in the final it would have been closer than it was last night. He still believes that he is the only one who can get up there and give me a decent game – and I think he is right."

Taylor's stroll to yet another world title at Purfleet saw him drop just two sets in the tournament. He also set the highest three-dart average in world championship history with 111.21 in his 6-1 second-round win over Burgess.

Manley began the final confidently with a maximum in the opening leg, but Taylor responded to take the leg and followed with the next two to take the first set.

Manley had chances to gain the initiative in the second set with shots at doubles in the first two legs but Taylor's superb finishing helped him clinch a 3-1 success. From then on Manley was simply outclassed. Taylor won the next set 3-0. He sealed the fourth 3-1 with an 11-dart finish. Taylor then dropped just three legs more as he walked away with the last three sets to complete a memorable win.

Manley initially refused to shake Taylor's hand at the end but it could not sour a great moment for the sport's greatest player. After his historic achievement, Taylor was quick to praise his opponent – who did eventually return to offer his congratulations.

"I am absolutely over the moon," Taylor said. "I am a little bit gutted for Peter because he is a worthy finalist who played well all week. What you must remember is that all the professionals are winners and to come up here and get beat the way he did – he is gutted.

"It is extra special because of the £50,000 prize – that is for sure. I would like to dedicate this to my wife and my two children."

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