Hammer blow for Taylor in Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters

Andy Hamilton produced a superb performance to knock Phil Taylor out of the Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters, as Michael van Gerwen, Raymond van Barneveld and James Wade also thrilled the 2,500 crowd at the Dubai Tennis Stadium.

The opening night of the inaugural $250,000 tournament, the first of the PDC’s World Series events, saw Hamilton claim only his fourth career victory over the 16-time World Champion in a huge upset.

Taylor – who had lost to van Gerwen in the McCoy’s Premier League Darts final a week earlier – looked set to bounce back to winning ways when he took a 4-1 lead early in their clash last night.

However, Hamilton (pictured)  won five successive legs to take the lead, and though Taylor hit back to lead 7-6, the former World Championship finalist took out legs of 12 and 13 darts in moving 8-7 up before sealing victory on tops with a 14-dart finish.

“It’s superb for me and there’s no better way to enjoy my first game in Dubai than beating the number one player in the world!” said Hamilton. “Beating Phil at any time is a feather in your cap but I was the underdog and I dug in deep.

“I probably didn’t deserve to be 4-1 down there but to win five legs in a row was unbelievable for me, and it got me back in the game. It’s always a struggle for me because I try so hard when I’m playing against Phil, probably too hard, but when I was 4-1 down I had nothing to lose.

“I’m playing great darts, I’m solid and who knows what can happen here. The atmosphere was superb and I really enjoyed the game.

“To come to Dubai and beat Phil Taylor is unbelievable but I can look forward to playing Michael van Gerwen now and I won’t dwell on this.

“I’m not worried about Michael. It will be a good game but I’m a fighter and whoever fights the strongest will win tomorrow.

“For me to go home as the Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters champion tomorrow would be the pinnacle of my career, so hopefully that will happen.”

Van Gerwen also had to hit back from behind early on as he defeated Wes Newton 10-7, despite the Fleetwood ace hitting seven 180s and leading 5-1 at one stage.

Van Gerwen hit back to level at five-all, and though Newton hung in with a 120 checkout, the Dutchman won four of the game’s final five legs to progress to the last four.

“Wes played really well at the start of the game and when I was 5-1 down I wasn’t too confident, but I had a couple of very good legs and that brought me into the game again,” said van Gerwen.

“This was totally different to anything else I’ve played in, it was very hot but I’m so glad I won. I was very happy with my performance and this is a great event – it’s the first time I’ve played outside but it was good.”

Five-time World Champion van Barneveld, meanwhile, hit four ton-plus finishes in a classy 10-6 victory over Adrian Lewis.

Lewis hit back from 4-1 down – after the Dutchman hit finishes of 116 and 120 early on – to trail by one leg at one stage, but van Barneveld won four successive legs, including another 116 checkout, to pull clear at 8-3.

Two-time World Champion Lewis battled back by winning three of the next four legs, but van Barneveld sealed the win in style with a 121 checkout.

“It wasn’t an easy game but I enjoyed it,” said van Barneveld. “I had four good ton-plus finishes tonight and I’m pleased with that.

“Adrian fought really hard and came back well, but I hit some crucial doubles and they won the game.

“It’s an interesting tournament and I can’t wait for tomorrow night. It’s a real privilege to be here in Dubai and it would be an honour to win this tournament.”

Van Barneveld now plays James Wade in the semi-finals, after the world number three came from behind to defeat Simon Whitlock 10-8.

After the pair shared the opening four legs, Whitlock moved 5-2 before Wade hit back to level.

Whitlock edged 8-7 up, but Wade crucially took out 149 and 110 in the next two in a killer blow for the Australian’s hopes, before landing double five to seal his place in the last four.

“I’m pleased with how I came back but when Simon got ahead 5-2 it could have been the other way around too,” said Wade.

“I’m starting to play better and my game’s coming out, and hopefully I can produce my best on Friday. The crowd were lively and really got into the game, and I want to give them more to cheer about.”

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