PDC World Championship final preview - Dave Allen
PHIL TAYLOR and Michael van Gerwen are expecting a 'special' game when they meet on Tuesday in the World Darts Championship final.
The duo will face off to contest for the prestigious title, a £200,000 first prize and the right to be the first player to lift the Sid Waddell Trophy on New Year's Day at Alexandra Palace.
The game will be the first time the pair have competed in a major televised final, although van Gerwen came out on top 10-5 when they met in a memorable William Hill Grand Slam of Darts contest in November.
The Dutch youngster also won a high-quality Players Championship final in Barnsley at the end of November, finishing 164 and 124 as he came from 5-4 down to edge victory.
Van Gerwen hit a nine-dart finish in his spectatular semi-final win over James Wade, and the 23-year-old Dutchman has also knocked out defending champion Adrian Lewis during his run to the final.
"I can't wait for the final and it's a dream for me to be playing Phil," said van Gerwen. "It's been a great tournament for me and I've beaten some fantastic players but the job's not done yet and I want to win the final now.
"Phil's the 15-time World Champion and I'm looking to win my first title so it's exciting for me.
"He's still the best player in the world but I know I'm playing well. I never expected to hit the nine-darter against James but it was a beautiful moment for me."
Van Gerwen added: "I've beaten Phil the last two times we've played but this is a different day.
"He's a fabulous player to play against and the crowd will love it. To win this tournament and beat Phil in the final would be special for me."
Taylor first encountered van Gerwen in 2006 when the teenage talent made his emergence in Holland, and he is excited by the challenge he will face in Tuesday's final.
"He's phenomenal and he's been playing some of the best darts I've ever seen throughout my career," said Taylor. "I've known him since he was a kid and he was playing these kind of darts when he first came through.
"He had a dip for a couple of years but he's back now and he's up there with the best players ever. His mental strength is fantastic and he doesn't fear anybody, but he's also a loveable lad.
"He wears his heart on his sleeve and goes out there and gives it his all. His attitude is spot on and he's great for the game - but he is beatable.
"I saw some vulnerability in his semi-final. James took a few sets from him but he came back really well, and I've got to make sure that I jump on him whenever he makes a mistake in the final.
"I'm delighted to be in the final but I know it will take everything from me tomorrow if I'm going to win the title. It will be a special game and it should be fantastic for the fans."
The final will be shown live on Sky Sports HD and Sky 3D on Tuesday, with the 3D commentary to include a return to broadcasting from the legendary Dave Lanning.
The final is also broadcast live on RTL7 in the Netherlands, Sport1 in Germany, Fox Sports in Australia, on Sky New Zealand, OSN across the Middle East and through the Sport1 Network in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, as well as through LIVEPDC.TV.
TAYLOR APOLOGISES TO BARNEY
PHIL TAYLOR has apologised to Raymond van Barneveld following their altercation at the end of Sunday's World Darts Championship semi-final.
The pair exchanged words on stage at the end of Taylor's 6-4 victory after shaking hands.
Taylor has since contacted van Barneveld to apologise for the misunderstanding after being pulled off-balance by his Dutch rival's handshake.
"I'm over the moon to be in the final but I'm disappointed with my behaviour at the end of the game," said Taylor. "Raymond's a big lad and he has a strong handshake, and when he pulled me he it hurt me.
"I reacted wrongly and I'm ashamed of that because I really like Raymond I'm gutted about what happened.
"It's upset a lot of people and it's also upset me. I've contacted Raymond to apologise to him and hopefully we can put it behind us now.
"I'm very close to Raymond, he's a great competitor and it was something that happened in the heat of the moment."