Phil Taylor and James Wade will clash for a fourth time in the Betfair World Matchplay final tonight (7pm Live on Sky Sports 1) following their semi-final triumphs over Ronnie Baxter and Terry Jenkins in Blackpool.
Reigning champion Taylor remains on course to win his 13th World Matchplay title and to equal his own record of five straight victories after defeating Baxter 17-10 in their last four encounter.
Taylor won the game’s opening six legs without reply, hitting a 180 in each leg, and also led 8-1 before Baxter hit back to trail just 8-6 with five successive legs.
However, a miss from Baxter to reduce the gap to one leg proved costly as Taylor regained his touch, and he hit two 11-dart finishes in the second half of the contest before sealing victory with a 118 checkout.
“It’s fantastic to be through,” said Taylor. “Ronnie made me work hard there and I’m glad in a way that I got such a good start because I was getting a bit nervous when he came back.
“I was expecting Ronnie to come out firing because his confidence was high and he was brilliant in the quarter-finals, but I managed to get on top of him early on.
“He came back really well and took some superb finishes out, so it was a massive relief to finally get the winning double.”
Earlier, 2007 champion Wade defeated Terry Jenkins 17-15 in a see-saw thriller which saw the left-hander come from 4-1 and 11-9 down to take victory, hitting six ton-plus finishes along the way.
The pair were locked at 15-all as they set up a dramatic finale, but Jenkins missed six darts to take the lead and Wade seized his opportunity to reach the decider.
“It’s great to be in the final,” said Wade. “Terry’s a real battler and it was hard work, so I’m delighted to have come through that.
“I thought I was a little bit flat in patches – and in some parts I was great and in other parts I was awful. Terry had a couple of weak patches too which let me in, and there were some desperation checkouts there.
“I’ll need to make sure I’m more focused on Sunday. I know what I can do and I’m ready for it, I’ve been practising hard and it’s paying off.”
Tonight’s final will be a repeat of the pair’s previous World Matchplay deciders in 2006, 2008 and 2011, with Taylor having taken victory in all three games.
“James has been exceptional this week and he had a fantastic game with Terry,” added Taylor. “I’m proud of him and I think he’ll play superbly tomorrow.
“He’s showed his grit and determination and he’s doing everything right this week, so it’s all set up for a great game.”
Boomakers make Taylor long odds-on to secure yet another victory in his illustrious career. He is a general 1/4 shot with Wade chalked up at 11/4 to cause an upset.