Adrian Lewis has grown tired of being described as "Phil Taylor's former protégé". After taking his one-time practice partner's crown at the PDC world championship the 25-year-old hopes he will be recognised in his own right.
Lewis's 7-5 victory over Gary Anderson at Alexandra Palace on Monday night, when he also became the first man to throw a nine-dart finish in a world championship final, came only three months after he had beaten Taylor in a televised event for the first time.
While the 15-times world champion has not looked the same player since that defeat in the World Grand Prix in Dublin, where there were some acrimonious exchanges between the two men, Lewis has finally realised his long-predicted potential.
According to Lewis, he was never Taylor's protégé. "All I did with Phil was practise with him," he said. "I'd qualified for three TV events before I'd even met Phil Taylor. He never sponsored me or anything like that. He just told me to go to bed earlier and told me a few things – things that you should be doing as a professional anyway."
Lewis, who joked that "every now and then we have a bitch fight", said the association with Taylor had ultimately proved a burden. "Everyone says: 'You're a Phil Taylor protégé' or 'You're under Phil's wing' and all that puts a lot of pressure on you. When I first came into the game six years ago everyone was saying: 'He's Phil's understudy.'
"Now I've won the title I've broken away. Since I beat him in the Grand Prix, I don't think he's played as well as he should be doing. Over the last couple of months he's struggled a bit. That defeat probably hurt him more than any other because he hadn't lost on TV in a major for a long time. And to go up there and beat him was when I started believing that I was the best.
"But there is no way that Phil will lay down. He'll be back. At the next world championships he'll be there or thereabouts."
Lewis said he had his eyes on "five or six world titles", but for the moment he will be relieved just to clear his tax debts. However, that will mean handing over most of his £210,000 prize money from the Alexandra Palace win, which included a £10,000 bonus for the nine-dart finish.Reuse content