Taylor powers past Kellett, as Mighty Mike survives scare to beat Jaws

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Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Phil Taylor made a winning start to his bid for a 14th BetVictor World Matchplay title by sweeping aside Stuart Kellett in Blackpool.

Taylor, (pictured),  returned to the Winter Gardens stage in typically imperious form, as he began his bid to claim a record sixth successive World Matchplay title, and continue his incredible run of success in the past two decades, with a dominant display.

The World Champion punished Blackpool debutant Kellett for a poor start as he took the game’s opening seven legs, hitting a 161 checkout, in ruthless fashion.

The 31-year-old landed a 180 and double nine as he finally got off the mark in leg eight, but Taylor finished 96 to restore his cushion, took out 134 to lead 9-1 and sealed victory with a superb 11-darter which featured two 180s.

“It’s a great first round for me and it was more comfortable than I thought it would be,” said Taylor, who now meets Terry Jenkins in round two on Tuesday.

“Stuart’s a lot better player than he showed tonight – he beat me in a Players Championship a few weeks ago and maybe he had some nerves.

“I’ve prepared well and I’m happy to be through. My average of 103 was average really, because a lot of players are hitting those types of scores, but I know Terry will test me in the second round.”

Number two seed Michael van Gerwen held off a brave fightback from 2005 champion Colin  “Jaws” Lloyd before he progressed to a second round clash with Peter Wright courtesy of a 10-7 victory in yesterday evening’s session.

Van Gerwen raced into a five-leg lead before Lloyd, aided by a 120 finish, hit back to trail just 7-6 at one stage, but a key bullseye from the Dutchman denied him the chance to pull level before the Premier League Darts champion edged into the last 16.

“Colin’s a brilliant player and he never gave up, so I’m happy to have won that match,” said van Gerwen. “I’m really pleased to play so well in the first round because you always want to play well on this stage and I’m proud to do it.

“Winning the game was most important and I hope I can do well in this tournament.

Former Premier League Darts champion Gary Anderson knocked out number 13 seed Mervyn King with a fine 10-5 victory, showing flashes of his brilliant best as he returned from the illness which recently saw him miss the European Championship.

The Scot showed no signs of ill-effects as he took the game’s first three legs without reply, and he also led 8-2 before King took the next three to threaten a fightback.

Anderson, though, steadied himself with a 177 and an 84 finish as he won a ninth leg, before taking out 76 to progress to a second round clash with 2007 champion James Wade.

“At times it felt pretty good and the trebles were going in and the finishing was fine, but at the back end of the game I started to struggle a bit,” said Anderson. “I was telling myself not to throw it away, and I got there in the end.

“My practise has been going brilliant, so if they can get a bit better on stage I’ll be a lot happier. James is very steady and you know what you’re going to get against him, so I’ll have to dig in.”

Dave Chisnall, meanwhile, twice hit back from behind before defeating Paul Nicholson 10-8, claiming his first victory at the Winter Gardens in his third World Matchplay appearance.

Nicholson led 3-1 early on before Chisnall took three of the next four to level, before taking out 121 in a three-leg burst as he moved 7-5 up.

Former Players Championship Finals winner Nicholson then took three legs of his own to lead 8-7, but the game had another twist as Chisnall landed the bull to level, double nine to move 9-8 and double eight to seal a narrow victory.

“Paul didn’t play his best game and I wasn’t at my best, and it was a game where I had to scrap,” said Chisnall.

“When I was 4-1 down I thought it was going to be like previous years here, but I dug in, pulled it out of the bag and I’m glad to get the victory.

“Now that I’ve won here, when I come back on Wednesday I hope I’ll be a bit more relaxed and able to play my best darts.”

Las night’s results have seen reigning champion Taylor’s odds of retaining the BetVictor World Matchplay crown cut to 9/4 with the sponsors, while van Gerwen is now 5/2 to lift the trophy next Sunday – and Anderson’s victory has led to his odds being cut from 40/1 to 22/1.

The first round concludes tonight with the remaining four matches, headlined by world number three and new European Champion Adrian Lewis taking on Belgian debutant Ronny Huybrechts.

UK Open runner-up Andy Hamilton is up against Blackpool’s Ronnie Baxter – the 1998 World Matchplay finalist, while Fleetwood’s Wes Newton takes on Jamie Caven and Scottish ace Robert Thornton meets Ian White.

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