Darts: Phil Taylor displays lethal power of old to claim 16th world title
Veteran rediscovers his best game to fight back and overcome young pretender Michael van Gerwen
Tuesday 01 January 2013
It was with characteristic focus, consistency and unrelenting drive that Phil Taylor won his 16th world darts title tonight. The most successful player in the history of the game beat Michael van Gerwen 7-4, fighting back from 2-0 and then 4-2 down to win the £200,000 prize for the first time since 2010.
Van Gerwen, competing in his first world championship final, started excellently but could not live with the experience of his opponent. The 23-year-old's standards slipped as the game went on while Taylor got better and better, eventually overwhelming Van Gerwen in the way that only he can.
“I am absolutely over the moon, I can't explain how I feel,” an emotional Taylor said afterwards. “I really don't know how long I can keep doing this for. I'm 53 this year but I'm coming back to defend the title.”
One day Taylor's commitment and ambition might start to wane but for now he is unmatchable in his hunger, winning the seventh, eighth, ninth, 10th and 11th sets against a man 29 years younger than him.
Van Gerwen was always going to start quickly and so he did, making it clear in the first few sets that he would not easily and instantly offer Taylor those narrow opportunities he thrives on. The Dutchman began not just with raw talent and brilliance but powerful closing too.
He won the first set with a 140 finish and made the game's first break of throw in the second set with 98. He won that set too and with a 2-0 lead in his first world final he had started perfectly.
Taylor, never rattled, won the next two sets. Van Gerwen's scoring was slipping as his average dipped back towards 100. He missed a dart at double top to go 3-1 ahead but Taylor completed his first minor fight-back.
Van Gerwen was not easily thrown. Recovering his rhythm he regained his two-set lead. Finishes of 90 and 70 sent him to 3-2 up before the old high-scoring returned to open up a 4-2 lead. “I just couldn't seem to crack him,” said Taylor.
For a few minutes there was nearly a sense of changing eras, as if Taylor might just be finally being replaced as the game's leading player. Maybe Taylor even felt it. But he responded with an hour of astonishing darts, as good as he has thrown in his career, to turn the game.
All the old relentlessness, the focus and the clinicism came back for Taylor. Van Gerwen, having thrown so fast for so long, started to run out of energy. He had darts to go 5-2 up, his last bright moment, but missed them, and from then on it was all Taylor.
“It wasn't enough,” reflected Van Gerwen afterwards. “Phil played great tonight. It was a tough game for me, a difficult game. Phil played very well.”
Taylor pulled it back to 4-3 and Van Gerwen started to wilt. There was a 136 finish on his way to the eighth set and parity at 4-4. Last time Taylor had pulled back from 2-0 to 2-2 he lost the next two sets, but not this time. Taylor had the momentum and it took him all the way to the Sid Waddell Trophy.
The veteran champion finally went ahead after two hours of play, winning yet another decisive fifth leg to lead 5-4. In the 10th set, Van Gerwen missed a finish to make it 2-2 and Taylor, with a consistency approaching the robotic, made his. At 6-4 the game was up and in the final set, Taylor's 91 – typically perfect – made him world champion again.
Latest in Sport
How Liverpool can catch Manchester United and secure Champions League football next season
Arsenal transfer news: Arsene Wenger reveals: 'We are not close to signing anybody. We need to lose some players'
Danny Jones: Keighley Cougars half-back dies after cardiac arrest during league game
Chelsea season player ratings: Grading the entire squad of the new Premier League champions
Which celebrities were ringside in Las Vegas to watch Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao?
- 5 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...
£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...
£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...
£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...