PHIL TAYLOR won his 13th Betfair World Matchplay title with a superb 18-15 victory over James Wade in the final at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, equalling his own record of five successive titles as he scooped the £100,000 first prize.
Taylor continued his dominance of the prestigious tournament with a fine performance in a tense final, as he defeated Wade in the decider for the fourth time in seven years.
Wade levelled from behind four times in an enthralling contest as the pair shared the first 20 legs, but Taylor took the next four to lead 14-10 and take control. Wade hit back to trail just 15-14, but missed double ten for a 140 finish to level and Taylor seized his opportunity to seal victory.
“It’s a massive achievement,” Taylor said.
“It’s one of the hardest finals I’ve ever had.
“James put me under tremendous pressure and I put myself under pressure a bit too.
“Every time he came back at me I seemed to push on a little bit and I put all my energy into that final leg to finish him off.
“I’m so pleased to have won this but I’m also pleased to see James on the comeback trail too,” added Taylor.
“He’s a brilliant player and he’s dedicated himself again, and I think we can have plenty more finals in the future.
“I don’t think I was fit enough and I didn’t perform as well as I can, which I’ll work on over the summer.
“It was one of the most difficult finals for me because I’m getting older and I’m not as fit, so I’ve got to work harder.
“I tried the new darts at the start of the week and they are the best darts I’ve ever played with, but they weren’t flying through the air in this heat as they should do. I need to practice a bit more with them, which I will do, and to be honest I was thinking about them too much.
“Taylor had lost in the second round of the World Championship for the first time in Professional Darts Corporation history in December to Dave Chisnall, but his Blackpool triumph follows his McCoy’s Premier League Darts win as he retained his status as world number one ahead of Adrian Lewis.
“Winning the Premier League and now this has set me up for the year,” he said. “I think the players will respect me again because they were like a pack of wolves – they can sense that you’re not playing well and they’ll attack you.
“Wes Newton, Andy Hamilton and Adrian Lewis are examples of hungry players who want to be where I am.”
Taylor had defeated Blackpool’s Ronnie Baxter 17-10 in Saturday’s semi-finals.
The defending champion won the opening six legs, hitting a 180 in each, and opened up an 8-1 lead before Baxter hit back with five straight legs.
However, a missed double to reduce Baxter’s deficit to just a single leg proved costly as Taylor regained his touch and pulled away again, firing two 11-dart finishes and sealing victory with a 118 checkout.
In the first semi, Wade had defeated Terry Jenkins 17-15 in a see-saw thriller which saw the eventual winner take out six 100-plus finishes and recover from deficits of 4-1 and 11-9.
With the match locked at 15-15, the next leg proved vital as Jenkins missed six doubles and Wade seized his opportunity to earn a fourth crack at Taylor in a Blackpool final.