EDGY TAYLOR OVERCOMES NICHOLSON AS ANDERSON, WADE & WHITLOCK PROGRESS IN DUBLIN
PHIL TAYLOR battled past Paul Nicholson to remain on course for an 11th World Grand Prix title on Wednesday night, as he was joined in the quarter-finals by Gary Anderson, James Wade and Simon Whitlock in Dublin.
World Champion Taylor endured a frustrating night on his finishing at the Citywest Hotel, hitting 11 doubles from 41 attempts as he overcame Nicholson 3-1 in sets to progress.
Taylor looked set to cruise into the last eight when he took the game’s first set without reply, only for Nicholson to hit back from 2-1 down in the second to win the set in a deciding leg to level, after the Stoke legend missed ten darts at doubles to move 2-0 up.
Nicholson then took the third set’s opening leg to lead in the game, but Taylor levelled and then took out 70 and 130 to win the set 3-1 and regain control.
A tricky double eight, after his first two darts landed just outside the wire to block the bed, gave Taylor the fourth set’s opener, but Nicholson took out 158 to level and shared the next two to send the set into a deciding leg.
Nicholson hit a 180 and had a chance to level the contest again when Taylor missed two match darts at double eight, but the Australian World Cup star missed two darts of his own at double 16 and the world number one made him pay, hitting another tricky third-dart double eight as he progressed.
“It’s good to be through but I didn’t seem to click tonight,” said Taylor. “There are no excuses, I just didn’t play very well.
“The ten darts I missed to win the second set crucified me for a while and I didn’t hit my doubles as well as I wanted to, but the last dart at double eight was the best dart I’ve thrown all week and one of the hardest doubles I’ve hit.”
Taylor will now play 2011 Premier League Darts champion Gary Anderson in the last eight, after the Scot won through to his first major quarter-final of the year with a narrow 3-2 win over Wes Newton.
Newton edged the opening set in a deciding leg before Anderson took the next two 3-1 to put himself in command, and he then moved 2-1 up in set four only to see the number eight seed produce a brilliant 101 finish and a ten-darter to keep his hopes alive by taking the set.
However, Anderson killed off the game superbly by sweeping through the final set without reply with legs of 14, 14 and 15 darts as he sealed his last eight place.
“It’s great to be in the quarter-finals because it’s been a while for me,” said Anderson. “My game’s coming back and I’ve gone back to just getting up on stage and trying to throw my darts and enjoy the game.
“It seems to be working so far. I’ve been finding the starting quite easy and it’s been the finishing which has been a bogey for me, but it’s going alright so far.
“I’ve been playing well and not winning games, and tonight there were some good darts and some bad darts. I thought I had him in the fourth set, but the final set was really good.”
Two-time World Grand Prix champion Wade was another five-set winner, as he came from behind to to defeat Ireland’s Connie Finnan 3-2 as he continued his bid to win an eighth major title.
Limerick’s Finnan, who overcame Terry Jenkins on his World Grand Prix debut on Monday, had returned to the Citywest Hotel for his game following a four-hour morning shift working in a factory in Shannon making plastic bag closures earlier on Wednesday - but took the game’s first set in a decider.
Wade hit back to win the second set 3-1, but Finnan then finished 115 and 102 as he won the third set without reply to move 2-1 up in the game.
Wade, though, took out 116 as he won the fourth set 3-1 before proving the more clinical in the decider, which he took by the same scoreline as a 91 finish sealed his last four spot.
“I’m really happy with how I played there after a poor start,” said Wade. “I let someone who’s inexperienced in terms of stage games get ahead of me and I shouldn’t have, but I got through the final two sets okay.
“I know I can turn my game around and I’m getting close to my best.”
Australian ace Whitlock won through to the quarter-finals for the first time in Dublin with a straight sets win over Ronnie Baxter, punishing the Blackpool star for hitting just three finishing doubles from 15 attempts.
The pair traded 180s in the game’s opening leg as Whitlock drew first blood, and though Baxter levelled, the Australian took the next two legs to win the first set 3-1.
Baxter moved 2-1 up in the second, but Whitlock levelled with the aid of a 180 and posted another maximum in the deciding leg, before stepping in to punish three missed doubles from his opponent by taking out 94 on double 11.
The Australian punished more Baxter misses as he took the third set’s opening two legs, and when the former World Grand Prix semi-finalist missed two darts at tops in the third, another double 11 checkout – this time to finish 102 – sealed Whitlock’s last eight spot.
“The game probably wasn’t as comfortable as the scoreline says,” said Whitlock. “Ronnie missed a lot of doubles to win legs there and I took advantage.
“Our starting was pretty equal but my finishing was the difference. The 94 and 102 to win the last two sets were killer shots, especially the 94 to go 2-0 up.”
He added: “The key thing for me tonight was starting well. I was all over the place with my starting in the first round, but I had a plan this time and stuck with it.
“I felt as though I had to settle down on a starting double and I finished off the game against Michael Mansell quite well using double 16 to start so I stuck with that and it went very well.
“I know it will be hard against James in the quarter-finals and we’ve had some great games. He had a tough match against Connie Finnan, who played a fantastic game, but James is one of the best players in the world and he shows that every time he plays.”
The second round concludes on Thursday night with the remaining four matches, which include the all-Dutch encounter between reigning champion Michael van Gerwen and two-time finalist Raymond van Barneveld.
European Champion Adrian Lewis plays Justin Pipe, Dave Chisnall faces Wayne Jones and Andy Hamilton takes on Kevin Painter in the night’s other contest, as they bid to win places in Friday’s quarter-finals at the Citywest Hotel.
Tickets are available from the Citywest Hotel by calling 01 401 0500 or in person from 6pm on each night of the event.
World Grand Prix
Wednesday October 9
James Wade 3-2 Connie Finnan
Wes Newton 2-3 Gary Anderson
Phil Taylor 3-1 Paul Nicholson
Simon Whitlock 3-0 Ronnie Baxter
Thursday October 10 (7pm)
Adrian Lewis v Justin Pipe
Dave Chisnall v Wayne Jones
Michael van Gerwen v Raymond van Barneveld
Andy Hamilton v Kevin Painter
Best of Five Sets, best of five legs per set. There will be no tie-break in any set.
James Wade 3-2 Connie Finnan
First Set – 2-3 Finnan
Wade missed the bull and two darts at double ten to win the opener, with Finnan stealing in to finish 52 on tops to take the opener, before Wade hit a 180 as he replies on double five. Finnan took advantage of ten missed opening doubles from Wade in the third leg as he posted double 16, before Wade again hit back with a maximum as tops sent the set into a decider. Finnan was first away only for Wade to post another 180 – but the left-hander missed tops for a 105 finish, and the Limerick ace finished double six to take the set.
Second Set – 3-1 Wade
Wade takes the opening leg and then finishes 121 to break in leg two, before Finnan hits a maximum and double nine to reply in leg three, but the former champion takes out 90 to seal the set and level the game.
Third Set – 0-3 Finnan
Finnan took out double 16 to win the opening leg, and when Wade missed double five in the next, the Irish ace followed up a 180 with a 115 finish to move 2-0 up with a break before taking out 102 to win the set without reply.
Fourth Set – 3-1 Wade
Wade lands tops to win the opening leg, and hits the same bed to win the second, completing a 116 finish. Finnan hit a 140 and 180 before finishing 72 to take leg three, but Wade finishes double five to send the match into a deciding fifth set.
Fifth Set – 3-1 Wade
Wade lands a 180 but initially misses tops, only for Finnan to miss the bull for a 164 finish to allow him back in to hit double top to take the opener, and he holds throw in leg two before Finnan takes out 61 on double 16 to reply in leg three. The fourth leg sees Wade initially miss three darts at a double before kicking off with a 160, and when Finnan is unable to finish 99 – hitting treble 19 but missing the single ten to leave 32 – the two-time champion keeps his hopes of a hat-trick of titles alive by finishing 91 on double ten.
Wes Newton 2-3 Gary Anderson
First Set – 3-2 Newton
Anderson lands a 180 as he wins the opening leg, hitting double five, before Newton levels on double 16. Anderson moves back in front with a 126 bullseye checkout, but Newton takes out 105 to level and punishes a missed bullseye for the set from the Scot by landing tops to move in front.
Second Set – 1-3 Anderson
Newton hits a 180 in the second set’s opening leg before punishing misses from Anderson to land tops, but the former Premier League champion hit back with legs of 13 and 14 darts to move ahead, before taking a third successive leg by landing a 180 and double ten to take the set.
Third Set – 1-3 Anderson
Newton again lands a maximum in the opening leg, but misses double 16 as Anderson takes the lead, before the Scot scores 160, 140 and 177 in a 14-darter to move 2-0 up. Newton hits back with a fine 12-darter, which features a 180, but he misses two darts to square the set as Anderson moves 2-1 up in the game on double ten.
Fourth Set – 3-2 Newton
Double two gives Newton the opening leg, but he misses tops to take the second as Anderson finishes 86 on the bull to level and tops to move a leg away from the match – only for the Fleetwood ace to respond brilliantly to keep his hopes alive, landing a 180 and a 101 finish to level the set before producing a ten-dart leg, the best of the week so far, to tie the game and force a decider.
Fifth Set – 0-3 Anderson
Anderson produces an outstanding final set to take victory with legs of 14, 14 and 15 darts – finishing tops in the opening leg, hitting a 160 and double three in the second and taking out 81 on the bull to seal his quarter-final spot – the first time since the 2012 Players Championship Finals that he has reached the last eight of a major.
Phil Taylor 3-1 Paul Nicholson
First Set – 3-0 Taylor
Taylor sweeps through the first set without reply to punish a slow start from Nicholson, landing double 16 to win the opening two legs and hitting a 180 and tops to take the third.
Second Set – 2-3 Nicholson
Double six gives Taylor a fourth straight leg before Nicholson hits a 180 and steps in on double top to punish misses from the World Champion in levelling with his first leg of the game. Taylor took out 116 on tops to win the third leg, after Nicholson missed double 16, but the Australian World Cup star responds with double nine to force a decider, which proves a dramatic affair as Taylor is first to a finish, only to miss ten darts at double top, ten and five to allow his opponent back to post double ten to level the match.
Third Set – 3-1 Taylor
Nicholson’s charge continues as he posts a 180 and double top to win the opening leg, but Taylor levels on double four, finishes 70 in two darts to move 2-1 up and seals the set by landing a 180 and finishing 130 on double eight.
Fourth Set – 3-2 Taylor
Taylor lands a tricky double eight to win the opening leg, but Nicholson takes out a superb 158 on double 19 to level – only for the world number one to open the third leg with a 157 score and hit a 174 and double three in taking a 2-1 lead to move to the brink of victory. Nicholson posts a 180 and double 16 to send the set into a decider, and lands another maximum only to miss two darts at double 16 to take the set, allowing Taylor to land another brilliant third-dart double eight to claim the victory.
Simon Whitlock 3-0 Ronnie Baxter
First Set – 3-1 Whitlock
Both players hit maximums in the opening leg, with Whitlock’s 180 leaving him 16 as he takes the first leg, before Baxter levels by finishing 48 in the second. Whitlock won the third, and punished a missed tops from Baxter in the fourth by taking out 54 for the first set.
Second Set – 3-2 Whitlock
Baxter finishes tops and double two, following a 180, to win two of the opening three legs in set two, with Whitlock winning the second courtesy of a 96 checkout before he posts a maximum and double 16 to send the set into a decider. Whitlock hits a 180, but Baxter is first to a finish, only to miss the bull for a 127 checkout and two darts at double eight to allow the Australian in, and he takes out 94 on double 11 to move two sets up.
Third Set – 3-0 Whitlock
Whitlock posts another timely maximum, and when Baxter misses two darts to take the leg, double eight puts the Australian in front before he moves 2-0 up on double five, again punishing misses from his opponent. The them continues in the third leg as the Blackpool ace, a former semi-finalist, misses two darts at tops, and Whitlock again finishes double 11, this time to take out 102, to seal the win.