Phil Taylor enjoyed a successful return to his old style of darts as he booked a Betfair World Matchplay semi-final place laqst night, and he was joined in the last four by James Wade following the left-hander’s win over Michael van Gerwen.
Taylor had defeated both Mervyn King and Ian White earlier in the tournament using a new design of dart, but after producing a below-par display against the latter on Thursday night opted to return to his previous style darts.
Despite initially going 2-0 down, Taylor produced his best performance of the event so far this year as he overcame the World Championship finalist, who hit 12 180s but was unable to match the world number one.
Taylor produced key early finishes of 126 and 127 in successive legs, and after taking a 7-6 lead he then won six of the next eight legs in setting up the win, which was sealed with a 170 checkout and earns him a semi-final against Ronnie Baxter on Saturday.
“I decided to change back to my old darts this morning – in my living room I was unbeatable but it wasn’t working on stage and I had to go back to my old darts,” said Taylor.
“I needed to do that against Andy because he hit buckets of 180s and his concentration levels are unbelievable. He battled hard and played some great darts there, and I could never shake him off.
“I’m glad the 170 went in at the end and I know I’ll be in for another battle on Saturday now against Ronnie. The tournament’s getting better and better and I’ll be doing everything I can to win this title again now.”
Frdia night’s other winner was 2007 World Matchplay champion James Wade, who held off a spirited comeback from Michael van Gerwen to set up a semi-final against two-time finalist Terry Jenkins.
Wade made the early running as he took five successive legs in moving 6-2 up, and he also led 11-5 before van Gerwen remarkably pulled back to within a leg after winning six legs from seven.
However, the world number three won a key 24th leg to deny van Gerwen the chance to break, and he went on to seal his victory with legs of 11, 13 and 14 darts.
“I’m delighted to be in the semis again but I’m really having to work hard in this event!” said Wade. “I was playing well in patches but then I’d have a bad leg and Michael never gave in, no matter what I threw at him.
“A few years ago I used to really love the bite of the player coming back at me, and I want to get that back. It could happen again on Saturday because I know Terry’s playing well and we’ve had some good games in the past.”
Van Gerwen admitted: “There’s a lot of disappointment for me because I can play a lot better, but James played well. He hit some very good finishes and deserved to win.
“If I’d made it 12-all then anything could have happened but I hit the bullseye instead of the 25, and he went 13-11 and threw a very good leg after that.”
Jenkins and Wade will clash in today’s first semi-final at 7pm, before Taylor and Baxter take to the stage for their best-of-33 leg contest.
Latest betting: 1/2 Phil Taylor, 3/1 James Wade, 12/1 Terry Jenkins, 20/1 Ronnie Baxter