Darts: Taylor boxing clever to stay ahead of the pack

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The Independent Online

Phil Taylor has admitted that he is worried by the challenge from a younger generation of players despite regaining the PDC World Championship with a thrilling 7-6 victory over Kevin Painter at the Circus Tavern here on Sunday night.

Taylor showed great character to come from 4-1 down to take Painter to a sudden-death final-leg shoot-out, but the 43-year-old conceded that winning his 11th world title took a lot out of him. "I'm going to dedicate myself to getting really fit this year," Taylor said. "I'm going to be on the rowing machine, on the treadmill and will also be doing a bit of boxing.

"These young lads are coming through and they've got more energy than me," he added, referring to the likes of Painter, Mark Dudbridge, Wayne Mardle and Colin Lloyd. "I can't practice as much as I used to do and it's annoying me. I get tired. Yesterday I only practised for 90 minutes whereas other days I practiced for three or four hours."

The score in Sunday's final was tied at 6-6 in sets and 5-5 in legs when Taylor finished with a double five to clinch the title. However, "The Power" sets himself such high standards that he felt his performance against Painter was not quite as impressive as in previous years.

"Personally, I think I dropped a tiny fraction last night on what I can do," Taylor said. "Last year or the year before I had an average over 100, and it's a sign that I'm getting a little bit older. But the lads are upping their averages."

Painter, who had led 5-3, claimed he had no regrets about coming so close. "The pressure and the heat was just crazy up there," the Cambridgeshire thrower said. "To get to the final is great. Obviously I wanted to win but I'll come back another time. If I had missed a shot at a double to win, then I would have been in a bit of mess. But I just didn't get a shot, so there you go. To play darts like that under that pressure is incredible. I know what I'm capable of and I can carry this on."

Taylor, who lost in the final to John Part last year, said he was drained after his victory over "The Artist" but is still keen to take on Raymond van Barneveld, widely expected to win the Lakeside World Championship this week, in another challenge match.

"Raymond is a very, very good player," said Taylor, who beat the Dutchman at the Wembley Conference Centre in 1999. "I think me and him going head to head in Holland would be absolutely fantastic. He deserves a second shot because we played each other in England and the majority of the supporters were on my side."

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