Kellett whitewashed by Taylor in Grand Slam opener

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Phil Taylor  turned on the style as he kicked off his bid to win a fifth William Hill Grand Slam of Darts title with a whitewash of Stuart Kellett last night, as Michael van Gerwen won the all-Dutch battle with Vincent van der Voort.

Four-time Wolves Civic champion Taylor was at his unstoppable best as he picked up a sensational first win of the round-robin phase, averaging 112.16 – a record for the event’s group stage – and allowing Kellett just one dart at a double in the game.

Taylor took out finishes of 108 and 100 as he established a 3-0 lead, finishing an 11-darter in the process before adding legs of 14 and 12 darts to complete a brilliant performance.

Taylor, who now meets Paul Nicholson in tonight’s second Group A game, had won The Masters in Edinburgh last weekend, and was delighted to take his imperious form to the Wolverhampton Civic Hall stage.

“I’m really pleased with that and to end the game with a 112 average sends a message out to the rest of the field that they are going to have to play very well to beat me right now,” said Taylor.

“The main objective at this stage of the Grand Slam is to get through the group stage whatever way you can, and winning 5-0 against Stuart gives me a good leg difference, but I won’t be relaxing and I’ll aim for another 5-0 win tomorrow.

“It’s a massive tournament but I’m under no pressure and I’m playing better for it. I’m comfortable, happy and I enjoy the competition and the players coming through.”

Nicholson kicked off his challenge in the tournament with a 5-2 win against Kevin Painter, completing victory in the battle of former Players Championship Finals winners with a 125 checkout.

“I’m very happy with that because there was a lot riding on this game,” said Nicholson. “It was an edgy game but I was glad I started well – I was very nervous because I knew what the game meant and it puts me in a good position.

“Kevin and I have become very close in the last few years and we practice together a lot, but he didn’t play his best game and I took advantage.

“Kevin’s a very tough competitor, he’s tough to beat and I did the job. The 125 shot to win the match felt huge, and it shows I can take out big finishes under pressure.”

2012 Grand Slam of Darts runner-up Michael van Gerwen bounced back to winning ways on the Wolverhampton stage with a 5-3 win over Vincent van der Voort, as the pair put aside their close friendship in a quick-fire contest.

Van der Voort led 2-1 as the Premier League Darts champion was punished for early missed doubles, before van Gerwen regained his range to win four of the final five legs to take victory.

“Nobody can understand how difficult the game was because we know each other so well,” admitted van Gerwen. “I’m the world number two but I was still nervous because he’s my best mate and he’ll be the best man at my wedding!

“We don’t like to play each other so I’m glad we played in the first game of the group, and I hope I can hit my doubles better in the next game now. He was a bit unlucky with missing the doubles to make it 3-3 and I took advantage.

“My tournament starts in the next game – I won’t be as nervous and I can play my own game tomorrow.”

Van Gerwen will face Dean Winstanley in their second Group D game, after the 2012 semi-finalist produced some brilliant darts to defeat in-form Kim Huybrechts 5-2.

“I feel fantastic and I’m over the moon to have come out of that game as the winner,” said Winstanley. “I went up there and did a good, professional job and I’m happy to hit the winning double.

“Kim was a bit unfortunate and the 5-2 scoreline doesn’t really reflect the game, he missed two doubles to go three-each and that’s not like him because he’s been in fantastic form for the last couple of months.

“I reached the semi-finals last year and the buzz I got playing in front of that crowd tonight felt like it did last year.”

Two-time World Champion Adrian Lewis came from 2-1 down to win 5-2 against Richie George, the Lakeside Championship semi-finalist and son of Bobby George who was making his debut in the event.

“Everybody’s under a bit of pressure in the first round here and I wasn’t brilliant, but I’m happy to get over the winning line,” said Lewis.

“I know my form’s good but it wasn’t there tonight, but the most important thing was to get the two points.”

Lewis’ opponent in their second Group C contest will be Ronny Huybrechts, who enjoyed a 5-3 win over former Lakeside Champion Christian Kist.

Gary Anderson stormed to 5-1 win over Wesley Harms in their Group B opener, averaging 107.14 in a fine display which saw him win the first four legs without reply and also have darts to claim a whitewash, before hitting a 13-darter to deny the Dutchman a comeback.

“Wesley did really well here last year and you’re always nervous going into the first game, so it’s nice to get a win and to play the way I know I can on the big stage,” said Anderson, who has returned to his plain black playing shirts following a year in his multi-coloured variety.

“Hopefully this is the start of a run of good games and that I can get some consistency. It’s a hard group because Peter’s been one of the most improved players this year and James Wade is world class, so it’s good to get points on the board straight away.”

Anderson now plays 2010 Grand Slam of Darts runner-up Wade, who opened his clash with Wright with checkouts of 130 and 160 before completing a superb 5-2 win over the debutant.

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