Tuesday 24 April 2018

Rare loss of Power opens door for rivals

Jeremy Wilson

The end of a magnificent era or just a temporary blip? Whatever happens tonight in only the second PDC World Championship final that will not involve Phil 'The Power' Taylor, the main talking point among the 2,500 fans at the Alexandra Palace remains his surprise exit.

Taylor has lost before, but the 5-2 quarter-final scoreline against Mark Webster amounted to his widest margin of defeat in the World Championship to date. It also means he has now won only twice in five years.

At 50, it prompts major questions about Taylor's capacity to dominate. Yet for those who doubt him, it should be remembered that he has consistently responded to past losses by pushing himself to even greater heights.

Although the other players no longer have such a fear of Taylor, he could also take encouragement from the way Saturday's match unfolded. Yes, Taylor started awfully by his standards, but was approaching his best by the end and still averaged in excess of 100.

And, while Webster was superb in his finishing, no player has yet performed to a standard that would trouble Taylor at his best. Indeed, had he not hit the wire at double 11 to make it 4-3, it is possible we would be witnessing Taylor win again tonight.

"Everything has changed for me in the past year," he said. "But I can settle down now, I can practice and start preparing myself. When you are winning, there are a lot of things you have to do to promote the game. I won't have to do that next year."

In winning the world title 15 times in the past 20 years, Taylor has come to transcend darts to the extent that he finished second in the 2010 BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards.

Yet he clearly believes that he may have benefited from a quieter build-up, with his preparations complicated by the premature birth of his grandson. Taylor went into his first-round match with only two hours' sleep in four days.

Yet there were no excuses, with Taylor staying on for the semi-finals. He also hopes to present the trophy to the new champion tonight. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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