Darts: Taylor goes to wire with Painter before taking 11th world title

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The Independent Online

Phil Taylor reclaimed his PDC World Championship with a thrilling 7-6 victory over Kevin Painter in an epic sudden-death final-leg shoot-out here at the Circus Tavern last night.

"I am a very lucky man tonight to be honest," Taylor said after clinching his 11th world title. "Kevin out-played me on doubles, but he eventually let me in. I thought Kevin was the better player tonight. Last year was a good final, but this is one of the best."

He said he was "not firing on all cylinders" last night after a testing 6-2 victory over Wayne Mardle in the semi-finals on Saturday. "He frightened the life out of me. He will pick his chin up and come back from this."

Painter, who high on confidence coming into the match after breezing past the veteran Bob Anderson 6-0 in his semi, said: "I just did not quite get there in the end ­ but what can you say? I gave it my best shot."

Taylor, who lost to the Canadian John Part in a memorable final last year, looked to be heading for defeat when he was 4-1 down. However, "The Power" dug deep to level the match at 5-5, before moving ahead ­ only to see Painter hit back and force a decider. It was Taylor who held his nerve, though, in a tense finale to claim another memorable triumph after 10 legs had a failed to separate the players.

Earlier, Painter clinched the opening leg with a 136 checkout and went on to take the first set. Taylor started to find his range, but Painter responded with a 13-darter and followed with a 100 checkout to open a two-set lead.

Painter hit double top at the start of the third set to make it four legs in succession for the Cambridgeshire thrower. Taylor missed outshots in the next two legs, and Painter took it to a decider with a double 20 and had chances to move three sets up. However, he missed three attempts at double eight and Taylor swooped to nail double 10.

The Stoke sensation followed up by nailing double eight at the start of the fourth set before Painter edged a scrappy second. The world No 10 broke Taylor's throw with shot at double eight and he snatched the set in the next leg to go 3-1 up. Painter then hit a 102 checkout to close within three sets of a famous victory.

He took the next set to a deciding leg when checking out on 143, but Taylor nailed double 10 under pressure to close the gap to two sets. The Power stepped up a gear in the seventh and successful attempts at double five, 10 and six reduced the deficit to just one. Painter, though, took out a superb 113 finish to level up a 1-1 in the eighth and the next two legs were shared. Taylor then missed a crucial attempt at double four to level the match, and Painter stepped in to take out double top and move 5-3 ahead.

Painter won the first leg of the ninth set, but Taylor hit back with a brilliant 144 checkout and quickly wrapped up the set with successful attempts at double 12 and 16.

The 43-year-old looked to have a spring in his step in the next set as he opened with a 14-darter. It was almost inevitable that Taylor would also take the next two to level another memorable showpiece final at 5-5. A 10-dart leg helped Taylor move to within one set of the title at 6-5. However, "The Power" soon found himself 2-0 down in the 12th and Painter closed out the set to force a nail-biting decider.

After both men showed nerves in missing chances, it went to the wire as the tension mounted at two legs all. Painter had a finish for the title, but could not find his mark when the pressure was on as Taylor landed a treble 20 and double 19 to square it up at 3-3.

Taylor clawed it back to 4-4 after Painter had landed an 11 maximum in the eighth leg, only to see the Cambridgeshire man move into the driving seat again at 5-4. But Taylor forced a sudden-death shoot-out for the title, and never looked back after earning the right to throw first following two rounds of closest to the bull's-eye.