Phil Taylor was in ominous form as he dismantled the Dutch prodigy Michael van Gerwen with a 4-0 victory at the Ladbrokes.com World Championship at Alexandra Palace on Saturday. Van Gerwen was expected to provide the multiple world champion with serious opposition and even though he had a 99 average, the 19-year-old was powerless to stop Taylor, who produced a scintillating display and managed a 102 average.
The Stoke thrower raced into a 2-0 lead in the first set before the Dutchman started the third with 180 and pulled it back to 2-1. However, "The Power" looked threatening as the pair produced some world-class darts and took the fourth leg. Taylor then hit consecutive 180s with his first two visits to the oche in the second set, the Dutchman hit back with one of his own but the world No 1 finished off a 10-darter to go 1-0 up in the second set. He then took out 105 to go 2-0 ahead and a double 16 saw Taylor claim the set and he continued in the same vein in the third, reaching the dizzy heights of an average of almost 108.
Van Gerwen was snatching at his throws and started to show his frustration but managed to pull back to 2-1 with a 13-dart leg in the third set. However, he failed to take advantage of the slightest Taylor wobble, with the Stoke man closing out for a 3-0 lead.
Taylor (right) then hit a maximum in the first leg of the fourth set to go one up before Van Gerwen levelled.
Taylor went 2-1 up after Van Gerwen missed a double and, although the Dutch thrower was in sight of finally securing a set, Taylor hit the bull for a resounding 4-0 win.
Mark Dudbridge completed a 4-0 victory over Mensur Suljovic although the scoreline did not do justice to the Austrian. Suljovic, who had beaten the three-times finalist Peter Manley in the previous round in one of the shocks of the tournament so far, pushed his opponent all the way but it was by delivering on the big darts that the 20th seed went through.
Dennis Smith came from three sets down to claim a stunning 4-3 victory over Kevin McDine in the afternoon session. McDine was seemingly headed for a regulation victory and a place in the last 16 before Smith, a qualifier, hit back. After levelling at 3-3, Smith opened up a 2-0 lead in the deciding set with a 128 checkout before McDine won the third leg, which included his eighth maximum.
But his opponent was not to be denied and completed victory with a double eight. Smith said: "I thought I was dead and buried but I kept digging in and Kevin took his foot off the pedal. It feels absolutely brilliant to be back in the big time. I thought I was going home but I have to come back on Tuesday now."