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Nic Ladds 12th Feb 2010 - 16:41

Below-par Taylor opens 2010 Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts with victory

Phil Taylor climbed out of his sickbed to begin the 2010 Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts with an 8-3 win over Australian Simon Whitlock at The O2 in London writes the PDC's Lawrence Lustig.

Taylor had spent much of the week in bed with a virus ahead of the tournament's opening night, but put aside his health concerns to repeat his victory over Whitlock in the Ladbrokes.com World Darts Championship final a month ago.

The world number one only travelled to The O2 in London on the afternoon of the game, and a lack of practice showed in a below-par opening, but he won seven of the game's final eight legs in sweeping to victory.

"I hadn't thrown a dart for about a week before today and really had to concentrate and push through," said Taylor. "I got better as the game went on but Simon wasn't at his best either.

"I know we will both improve over the next few weeks, and I'll certainly be better in Bournemouth next week after I've had a good rest to recover properly."

The tournament's opening night, witnessed by over 8,000 fans at The O2, began with a draw between Ronnie Baxter and Terry Jenkins, who took the game's final two legs to grab a point against the Lancastrian.

Mervyn King, the runner-up in 2009, made an impressive start to this year's event with an 8-5 win over Adrian Lewis, who led 2-0 early on but failed to keep up the pressure as the Norfolk man posted a 101 average.

"To average 101 and win my opening game is very pleasing and it's a very good start to the tournament for me," said King. "I'm using some new darts and still getting used to them, and believe me there is plenty of room for improvement."

Reigning champion James Wade, though, suffered an 8-5 loss to Raymond van Barneveld, who marked his return from a month's break with some strong finishing against the left-hander.

"I'm very happy with the win and pleased with the performance but I know I'll improve as this tournament goes on," said van Barneveld. "I'm working hard on my fitness at the moment and am back practising well too, and that showed a bit.

"The O2 Arena is an incredible place to play darts and the level I want to perform at. It's a superb venue and I can't wait to play the next three months in arenas like this."

The event continues next Thursday in Brighton, live on Sky Sports in High Definition, when Lewis meets van Barneveld, Jenkins faces Whitlock, Taylor takes on Baxter and Wade comes up against King.

2010 Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts
Week One - The O2, London
Ronnie Baxter 7-7 Terry Jenkins
Mervyn King 8-5 Adrian Lewis
Raymond van Barneveld 8-5 James Wade
Simon Whitlock 3-8 Phil Taylor

 

RONNIE BAXTER 7-7 TERRY JENKINS

TERRY JENKINS scrambled from behind to grab a draw with Ronnie Baxter in the opening game of the 2010 Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts.

Baxter seemed set to take victory on his return to the Premier League, where he last competed in 2006, after taking a 7-5 lead against Jenkins to secure a point.

But he paid the price for failing to close out victory as the 2007 runner-up took the final two legs to share the spoils.

The pair both struggled to hold their throw in the early stages, with Jenkins punishing missed doubles to take the first leg before Baxter returned the favour in taking the second.

The duo traded 180s in the third, with Jenkins taking out 81 for an 11-darter, only for Baxter to land 180s in the next two in edging 3-2 up.

The Lancastrian also hit a maximum in leg six, but Jenkins matched that and took the leg, before trading 15-darters to remain locked after eight legs.

Baxter took out double 16 at the first time of asking to win the next leg, and rode his luck before breaking Jenkins' throw on double two to go 6-4 up.

Jenkins broke back in the ninth, but wasted three chances to square the contest as Baxter took out double ten for a point.

However, Jenkins remained alive with double top, and was too strong in the deciding leg to land double eight to snatch a draw.

"I'm happy with a draw because it's a point on the league table early doors, but I'm not happy with my performance," said Jenkins. "Early on I felt I should have been three or four legs, but Ronnie hit some 180s at the right times."

Baxter said: "Neither of us could hold our throw early in the game, but I felt I was in control in the second half.

"When I went 7-5 up I wanted to put a good leg in, but that didn't happen, Terry stuck in there and got the draw."

 

MERVYN KING 8-5 ADRIAN LEWIS

MERVYN KING kicked off the 2010 Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts campaign in style with a superb 8-5 win over Adrian Lewis.

The 2009 runner-up opened the new season where he left off in 2009, having reached the final in his debut campaign with some fine darts, and averaged 101.39 in powering past the returning Stoke ace.

Lewis made a typically explosive start to the contest, taking the first two legs without reply from King - hitting a 177 to leave 24 in a 13-dart finish before landing a 180 in a 12-darter to double his lead.

King took out 121 for a 12-darter of his own in the third, and punished missed doubles from Lewis to level in the next.

A 14-darter against the throw allowed Lewis to lead 3-2 - only for the Norfolk ace to win the next three, taking out 124 in the first of three successive legs under 15 darts

Lewis responded with 180s in taking the next two, with a 100 finish squaring the game, only for King to find another gear in powering to the victory.

He opened leg 11 with a 180 before taking out a 14-darter to regain the lead, double 1 in the next for a 13-dart finish and then double four to seal both points.

"Even when I went behind I didn't stop believing in my own ability and I'll never give up," said King. "I'm using some new darts and still getting used to them, and believe me there is plenty of room for improvement.

"But to average 101 and win my opening game is very pleasing and it's a very good start to the tournament for me."

Lewis admitted: "It's a disappointing start for me, but it's one game out of 14 and I'll hopefully put this behind me next week.

"I let Mervyn in a few times and didn't quite perform, there were too many slack darts which gave him chances, and he took them."

RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD 8-5 JAMES WADE
DUTCH star Raymond van Barneveld condemned reigning champion James Wade to defeat on the opening night of the 2010 Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts.

Van Barneveld avenged his semi-final loss to the left-hander last season with an assured display at The O2 in London, returning to action for the first time since the Ladbrokes.com World Darts Championship.

Wade edged the early stages to lead 3-2, but a mid-game surge from van Barneveld saw him win four successive legs in taking a vital 6-3 cushion.

Perhaps inspired by a 180 in opening the sixth leg, he landed double ten to break throw and returned from the break to land double top and lead 4-3.

Wade then hit 180s in the next two legs, but failed to close out the eighth as double 16 allowed van Barneveld to step in, and an 11-darter from the Dutchman, including a maximum of his own, gave him a three-leg advantage.

Van Barneveld then opened the tenth leg superbly, with scores of 140, 180 and 145 leaving him 36 after nine darts - only for five missed doubles to allow Wade to land a maximum and double top to steal the leg.

Wade then missed his chance to pull back another leg when, following another 180, he was off-target on double top for a 120 finish, with double 16 ensured a minimum of a draw for van Barneveld.

Tops gave Wade hope of snatching a point, but he missed a dart at the same bed in the 13th leg, and van Barneveld posted double four to ensure the win.

"I'm very happy with the win and pleased with the performance but I know I'll improve as this tournament goes on," said van Barneveld. "I'm working hard on my fitness at the moment and am back practising well too, and that showed a bit.

"The O2 Arena is an incredible place to play darts and the level I want to perform at. It's a superb venue and I can't wait to play the next three months in arenas like this."

Wade admitted: "I started well but didn't keep up the pressure on Raymond, and it's disappointing. But there are another 13 games remaining and I've plenty of chances to put it right."

PHIL TAYLOR 8-3 SIMON WHITLOCK
PHIL TAYLOR climbed out of his sickbed to begin the 2010 Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts with an 8-3 win over Australian Simon Whitlock at The O2 in London.

Taylor had spent much of the week in bed with a virus ahead of the tournament's opening night, but put aside his health concerns to repeat his victory over Whitlock in the Ladbrokes.com World Darts Championship final a month ago.

The world number one only travelled to London on the afternoon of the game, and a lack of practice showed in a below-par opening, but he won seven of the game's final eight legs in sweeping to victory.

Taylor hit a 180 in the opening leg, but missed double 16 to break Whitlock's throw as the Aussie landed double top for the opening leg.

Four-time Premier League winner Taylor hit the same bed to win the second leg, before a classy 13-darter from Whitlock edged him 2-1 up.

Taylor levelled on double five following a scrappy fourth leg, which saw him miss eight darts at a double under little pressure from his opponent, only hit a 180 and take out 122 on the bull with a 12-dart finish for a sparkling break of throw.

The duo traded maximums to kick off leg six, but Taylor's profligacy on doubles cost him for a second time in the match as Whitlock landed tops for an 80 finish to square the game at the break.

Taylor hit a second 12-darter of the game to win the seventh leg, with another 122 finish, and double top in the next put him two legs clear.

A double 16 checkout, with his third dart, saw Taylor move 6-3 up, and he wrapped up the win in style with a pair of 12-darters, landing a 180 in the tenth leg and finishing 103 to seal victory.

"I hadn't thrown a dart for about a week before today and really had to concentrate and push through," said Taylor. "I got better as the game went on but Simon wasn't at his best either.

"I know we will both improve over the next few weeks, and I'll certainly be better in Bournemouth next week after I've had a good rest to recover properly.

"I'll have to get better too, because it's a fantastic Premier League this year and probably the strongest field ever, but there's a long way to go."

He added: "The O2 is a fabulous venue, probably the most impressive I've ever played in and a great way to begin this year's tournament."

ENDS

 

 
 
 

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