Darting masters meet in mouth-watering World Matchplay final
Phil Taylor (4/5 odds-on favourite), 14-time champion here and winner of the last six World Matchplay events, will face top seed Michael van Gerwen (evens), who has reached his first final in Blackpool. They will now fight for the £100k prize.
However, it was not plain sailing for the duo to get to this stage, who had to see off Gary Anderson (17-15) and Simon Whitlock (17-13) respectively in the semis.
“It’s the first time in my life I’ve reached the final of [the World Matchplay] and it’s such a fantastic tournament,” Dutchman Van Gerwen said following his seesaw match victory.
“But I needed to put in very hard work. Simon made it very difficult but I thought I had more in the tank, but I couldn’t find my rhythm. But I did very well at the end when I needed to.”
Australian Whitlock lead for much of the early stages, before Van Gerwen soared ahead. The Wizard then drew back level to 13-13, but Mighty Mike showed his class and put the arrow into his tenacious and heroic challenger.
Taylor, meanwhile, edged out former Premier League champion Anderson in an enthralling high-quality match-up, that produced a number of high checkouts and 11-dart finishes.
The Power lead for most of the encounter, but the Flying Scotsman continuously produced the quality to stay within reach of the darting giant.
“I just couldn’t seem to get on top of him, I was hitting him with everything,” Taylor said of his opponent following the match.
“He just doesn’t stop and he’s got that belief in himself again. I’ve not seen Gary Anderson like this for four or five years.”
So in the end, Power and the Mighty prevailed, with Taylor and Van Gerwen meeting in yet another final. But, it is the former who boasts a superior record over the latter.
Unfading age-defying Taylor, 53, has won twice as many as the Dutchman in their head-to-heads (22-11), and has beaten him in three of their last four meetings. He also leads 5-3 in individual tournament finals against the 25-year-old.
In this best of 35 match, first to 18, it will be the longest battle between the two, and it really will be a test not only of quality, but stamina and mental toughness as well. You can take odds of 12/1 for Taylor to win 18-16. Van Gerwen is the same price to record that scoreline.
In other markets, it is 5/1 that there will be a 170 checkout, while The Power is 14/1 to record his 11th televised nine-darter, and second of this year’s tournament. Odds of 8/1, meanwhile, say either player will achieve that feat.