Darts: Taylor switches on the title power

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The Independent Online

Marco Pierre White was brought in to cook for the VIPs at last night's final of the Ladbrokes.com PDC World Darts Championship at the Circus Tavern in Purfleet, but there was no need for the master chef to spice up the action on the oche.

Marco Pierre White was brought in to cook for the VIPs at last night's final of the Ladbrokes.com PDC World Darts Championship at the Circus Tavern in Purfleet, but there was no need for the master chef to spice up the action on the oche. Phil "The Power" Taylor, underlining his status as the greatest player in the history of the sport, won a gripping contest against Mark "Flash" Dudbridge 7-4 to claim his 12th world title and the £60,000 first prize.

Although the match did not quite compare with the drama of his victory in a sudden-death decider against Kevin Painter 12 months ago, the 7-1 on favourite was pushed all the way by Dudbridge. The 31-year-old Bristolian hit 14 maximums to equal the record for a world championship final, but, crucially, his inconsistency let in Taylor on too many occasions.

Dudbridge, who announced his arrival on the world scene with victory in the World Masters two years ago, kept pace with Taylor in the early stages, but the defending champion moved ahead when he won five legs in a row to take a 3-2 lead. Although Dudbridge levelled the scores by taking the next set, the first leg of the seventh proved to be a turning point.

Dudbridge failed with six throws at a winning double, while Taylor succeeded with his first attempt. The next two legs put Taylor into a 4-3 lead and when the eighth set went to a decider the champion dealt a hammer blow with a spectacular 128 check-out.

The ninth set was a thriller, Dudbridge staying alive at 2-1 down with a 144 check-out and then trading maximums in the decider. Taylor, however, won the set with two 11-dart finishes, keeping his nerve to hit a double 12 and move within one set of victory. Dudbridge kept his hopes alive by winning the next set, but Taylor finally closed the match out, winning in style with a 101 check-out. "It was the best 101 I've ever hit," Taylor said.

Taylor said he expected Dudbridge would win his first world title before long. "He's professional, there's no winding-up and he just gets on with his game," Taylor said. "It was the most difficult win of the lot for me because it gets harder and harder as I get older. I practised very hard for this tournament, but you can't practise the pressure or the atmosphere.

"Physically I found it very tough. I was huffing and puffing. I was feeling like Andy Fordham. I kept thinking: I just need to win one more leg. I just kept going. I kept looking at Yvonne [his wife] and the kids. I kept taking deep breaths and gulps of air."

Taylor said his bad-tempered quarter-final victory over Painter, which ended in an ugly confrontation between the two men, had also taken a lot out of him. He insisted that there was no lasting animosity between the two players ­ "you might not believe this, but I like Kevin" ­ but he was disgusted with his own behaviour. "I think the PDC should fine me £10,000 because I was out of order," he said. "I'm disgusted with my behaviour and with Kevin's. I'll never do that again."

The champion is already thinking about his 13th world title. He revealed that he would be paying a visit this week to Kerry Kayes, who works with the boxer Ricky Hatton, in order to start preparing for next year's campaign.

PDC World Championship (Purfleet) Final: P Taylor (Eng) bt M Dudbridge (Eng) 7-4.

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