Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen will clash in the BetVictor World Matchplay quarter-finals after progressing through Wednesday’s second round alongside Adrian Lewis and Alan Norris in Blackpool.
Taylor, the 15-time World Matchplay champion, punished missed doubles from great rival Raymond van Barneveld to claim a comfortable 11-3 victory from their eagerly-awaited clash on the Winter Gardens stage.
“It was a lot easier than I expected,” admitted Taylor. “Probably 11-9 would have been been a more reflective score, but Ray was unlucky and his doubles cost him.
“Raymond never gives in and his scoring was lovely, but a couple of his doubles let him down tonight and he’s a better player than that.”
Reigning champion Van Gerwen, meanwhile, continued his bid for a third straight Blackpool title by cruising to an 11-3 win over Australian Simon Whitlock, who was punished for 12 missed doubles.
Lewis and Norris, meanwhile, set up a tasty quarter-final tie as they defeated Rob Cross and Dave Chisnall respectively.
Lewis was an 11-8 winner in a tight battle with shooting star Cross, who averaged 104 and hit eight doubles from 14 attempts.
However, it was Lewis who finished the stronger as he backed up nine 180s by claiming the final three legs without reply to secure his quarter-final spot.
Lewis landed three of those maximums in the opening two legs and also fired in a 177 score as he moved 4-2 up, before a brilliant 144 checkout retained his two-leg cushion at 5-3.
Cross responded brilliantly with a 10-darter in leg nine and levelled with a 14-dart finish, but crucially was unable to break Lewis’ throw to move ahead as the Stoke ace landed a 121 finish at a key moment before pulling clear from 8-8 for the win.
Norris, meanwhile, defied 11 maximums from Chisnall by following nine 180s of his own with five ton-plus checkouts as he secured a 14-12 tie-break triumph.
Chisnall had made a stunning start with a pair of maximums in the first two legs.
Trailing 12-11, Norris took the 24th leg on double five, fired home a 109 checkout to break and then finished 100 to secure his first quarter-final at the World Matchplay.
“I’m so pleased to have won that because I always seem to lose to Dave by the odd leg, so I’m very happy to come through a battle like that,” said Norris.
“In the tie-break maybe I had some extra reserves and I got the job done.”