Phil Taylor continued his magnificent form down under, claiming a fourth consecutive Sydney Darts Masters crown with a thrilling 11-9 victory over Michael van Gerwen at The Star on Saturday evening.
Taylor has yet to be defeated in Australia since the World Series of Darts began in 2013, having claimed three previous Sydney titles and two Perth Darts Masters trophies in an unbeaten run spanning 20 matches. This run was extended to 24 matches this week, as he defeated Corey Cadby, Gary Anderson, Dave Chisnall and MvG to clinch the title.
Taylor secured his place in the final with a comprehensive 11-4 victory over his Target stablemate Dave Chisnall. ‘The Power’ averaged 102.47 and hit five maximums, as Chisnall struggled to produce the form that saw him ease past Adrian Lewis in the quarters.
The 56-year-old was in cruise control from the outset, and established leads of 7-1 and 10-2 at various stages in the contest. Chisnall rallied briefly with finishes of 66 and 70, but Taylor completed victory with a fine 12-darter, capped off with a clinical 81 checkout.
However, Michael van Gerwen also performed impressively as he fended off a valiant fightback from Peter Wright to reach yet another World Series final. Van Gerwen averaged 106 and hit an incredible 11/13 attempts at double to overcome Snakebite.
The Dutchman hit his first eight double attempts as he stormed into an 8-1 lead, but Wright reeled off three straight legs, with successive finishes of 121 and 156. However, the next four legs were shared, before Van Gerwen followed up a 177 by hitting tops, to set up a tantalising final against his old foe.
The final itself was a captivating affair. Van Gerwen began superbly, firing in an early maximum before taking out 76 for an 11-dart hold. Taylor responded well however, levelling up the contest at two apiece, after hitting maximums in both leg two and four.
The first break of throw came in the fifth leg, as Taylor capitalised on two missed doubles from the world number one to edge ahead. The Stoke star then clinched his third successive leg by virtue of hitting D14. Nevertheless, Michael managed to stop the rot by hitting tops with his last dart in hand, having begun the leg with a classy 177.
The pair both opened up the eighth leg with maximums, but Taylor converted a regulation 44 outshot on D16 to regain his two-leg cushion. Van Gerwen came agonisingly close to hitting a 170 finish in the ninth leg, but he was handed a major reprieve when the 56-year-old missed two darts at D15 for a double-break.
‘Mighty Mike’ exploited his opponent’s profligacy to reduce the arrears to 5-4, before restoring parity in the contest after producing a brilliant tenth leg, which included a 180 and a score of 170.
The Dutchman won his third straight leg to regain the lead after converting a 104 checkout, but Taylor levelled up the tie after MvG had squandered two darts to break the throw. Yet, just moments later Taylor was this time punished for wastefulness on the doubles, missing two darts at tops as Van Gerwen landed D8 to lead 7-6.
However, this prompted a typical ‘Power-Surge’ from Taylor, who secured four consecutive legs to move to the brink of victory. Taylor broke MvG with an 11-darter, before completing finishes of 16, 68 and 90 to lead 10-7.
Van Gerwen kept his hopes alive by hitting D9 after Taylor spurned one dart at tops for title. Just moments later, the world number one reduced the deficit to the solitary leg, following up his sixth maximum by pinning tops. The Dutch star landed his seventh maximum to pressure ‘The Power’, but Taylor held his nerve to seal the title on D16.
It was a fine performance from Taylor. He averaged 105.13, hit three maximums and boasted 41% on the doubles. Van Gerwen averaged 104 and fired in seven maximums, but he was unable to secure a first World Series title on Australian soil.
Taylor was understandably ecstatic with his win. He said: “This is brilliant and I’m so happy. I thought it was a cracking final – I thought I had him and then he came back. I always get in front of him and he seems to come back at me, but I thought ‘you’re not going to get me this time’. That’s the only way to beat Michael, by fighting and being aggressive.”
“I’m going to pat myself on the back because it was a fantastic game.Sydney’s been great this week – it’s been fantastic at The Star and it’s been perfect for me. I got my preparation right and I’ve got my darts right. I’d love to play here every week!”, the 16-time world champion added.
Next up is the Perth Darts Masters, which gets underway next Thursday. Taylor will be hoping to continue his fine form down under, and appeared in bullish mood. “I’m going to go for it and I’m on a high. I’m really looking forward to Perth and I want to carry this forward now.”
Ladbrokes Sydney Darts Masters
Saturday August 20
Phil Taylor 11-4 Dave Chisnall
Michael van Gerwen 11-6 Peter Wright
Best of 21 legs
Phil Taylor 11-9 Michael van Gerwen
Best of 21 legs