Darts: Taylor shows awesome speed to 'batter' Roy

You had to feel sorry for Alex Roy. The world No 20 probably knew when he saw the draw for the PDC World Darts Championship that he would not make it beyond the last 32, but he would surely have hoped to last for more than 31 minutes and win more than one leg. When you come up against Phil Taylor, however, you know that humiliation is always a possibility.

The 11-times world champion began his campaign for another title with an awesome performance at the Circus Tavern here in Essex last night. "The Power" needed just 31 minutes to win his third round match 4-0, losing just one leg and playing with a steely assurance that suggested the sponsors, Ladbrokes, were almost generous when they cut his odds to win the tournament from 4-7 to 2-5.

Taylor's first visit to the oche produced a maximum 180. He polished off the second leg in just 10 darts, finishing on the bull. By the time he had wrapped up the third leg, his three-dart average in winning the first set was an extraordinary 118. The second set went just as quickly, Taylor winning the last two legs with a total of just 26 darts.

When Roy had chances to win the first two legs of the third set, the "Ace of Herts" appeared to be taken by surprise, missing the double nine and then the bull. Taylor punished him on both occasions by winning on his next visits and went on to win his ninth leg in a row to take the set.

With Taylor slipping slightly from his extraordinary standards, Roy sensed his chance to avoid a whitewash and duly took it. When Taylor missed a double 16 to take the first leg of the fourth set, Roy checked out with a double 14. He even had a chance to take a 2-0 lead, just missing the bull. The unforgiving Taylor promptly took the leg on his next visit with a 106 check-out.

When Roy opened the next leg with a maximum, it was just the incentive Taylor needed to finish off the match in style. He won the leg in 11 darts, finishing with a treble 18 and a double 16 to end the match with a three-dart average of 102.87. "I went out there to batter him," Taylor said afterwards. "I knew Alex was a very good first opponent for me and that I had to be at my absolute best. I'm very excited this year. I feel like I did when I played here for the first time. I've practised very seriously this year and I felt very good going into the match. I'd done a nine-darter upstairs in practice beforehand." Taylor revealed that he has been making a number of small changes to his game, including alterations to his stance and throwing action. "When you drive a car for 15 years you get into bad habits," he said. "You have to change what you do. I went right back to basics. I've always studied the game. I always want to be the best. I want to be the world No 1."

Taylor's next opponent will be Dennis Priestley, one of only two men to have beaten him here. Priestley advanced yesterday with a comfortable win over Lionel Sams.

Two of Taylor's winning finals have been against Peter Manley, who was fancied to mount another strong challenge this year. However, the world No 3 went out when he was beaten by Josephus Schenk, a 24-year-old Dutchman who took up the game only five years ago. Kevin Painter, who lost to Taylor in last year's final, came from behind to beat Wayne Jones, the world No 49. Chris Mason continued his impressive progress with a 4-3 victory over Dave Askew, while Bob Anderson, at 57 the oldest player left in the tournament, beat Dennis Smith 4-2.

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