Phil Taylor has revealed that he would love to meet his old rival Raymond van Barneveld in this year’s World Championship Final, as he prepares to begin his farewell campaign at the Alexandra Palace tonight.
Taylor faces talented youngster Chris Dobey in a tough opening-round tie as he aims to draw down the curtain on an astonishing career by winning an unprecedented 17th World Championship crown on New Years Day.
‘The Power’ will officially retire from competitive action after this year’s World Championship, but in an interview with Dutch TV station RTL7, the 16-time world champion admitted that he would love to contest a third world final against his old rival Raymond van Barneveld.
Barney defeated Taylor in arguably the greatest game ever seen at the Circus Tavern in 2007, coming from 3-0 behind to defeat the Stoke-on-Trent ace in a captivating sudden-death leg. However, Taylor gained his revenge in 2009; storming to a 7-1 victory with a 110.94 average- the highest average ever recorded in a World Championship final.
The pair have locked horns competitively on an astonishing 84 occasions, with Taylor winning 61 of those matches. Nevertheless, Van Barneveld is one of only two players to have beaten the 57-year-old on two separate occasions in the World Championship, having dumped out ‘The Power’ in last year’s quarter-finals.
When asked about who would be his dream opponent if he reached the final this time around, Taylor admitted: “In my dream, Barney. Barney without a shadow of a doubt. I think me playing Barney in the final would be bigger than playing Michael in the final, 100%. I think more people would tune in in Holland to watch Barney than Michael.
“Michael’s got to the stage now where, listen I know the game inside and out and I know what people are like, I know what crowds are like, and when Michael was up and coming, they all loved him: Oh he’s brilliant he’s this that and the other and he was, but now they’re getting the opposite, sick of seeing him and that’s what you get. ”
Van Gerwen is currently enjoying a 30-game winning streak dating back to October, when his last defeat came in the first-round at the World Grand Prix against John Henderson. Since then, MvG has gone on to win the European Championship, World Series Finals, Grand Slam and Players Championship Finals titles.
However, this is familiar territory for Taylor, who has enjoyed similar levels of dominance throughout his remarkable career. He added: “He’s winning, winning, winning and people get fed up with it, so they want something different, they want him knocking down. When I beat Michael, the admiration and text messages I get.
“I get about 500 text messages, some are not very flattering towards Michael but it doesn’t matter, but that’s how big his persona is and that’s his reputation. I know; I’ve done it all, been there got the t-shirt, I’ve sold the t-shirt, given another one away. It don’t matter, at the end of the day it’s about enjoying your life, looking after your kid, that’s all you can do.”
Whilst Taylor is the headline act on Friday evening at the Alexandra Palace, Rob Cross will make his eagerly anticipated World Championship debut. ‘Voltage’ has enjoyed a stunning debut year on the PDC circuit and is fifth favourite with title sponsor William Hill to lift the trophy.
Cross will face the winner of tonight’s preliminary tie between Seigo Asada or Gordon Mathers, whilst former Lakeside world champion Stephen Bunting meets newly crowned World-Youth champion Dimitri van den Bergh, in what promises to be one of the ties of round-one.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC