Taylor claims ninth World Grand Prix title
PHIL TAYLOR battled from two sets down to win a ninth Skybet World Grand Prix title with a 6-3 defeat of Raymond van Barneveld.
Van Barneveld stunned Taylor to edge the opening two sets of a thrilling final at the Citywest Hotel IECC, with the Dutchman taking advantage of a slow start from the Stoke great.
But Taylor battled back to level by winning six of the next seven legs, sneaked the fifth set to move 3-2 up in the game before pulling clear to take the £100,000 title.
The win maintains Taylor's record of holding all of the PDC's major ranking titles at present, and takes his 2009 earnings beyond £500,000.
"I'm absolutely over the moon," said Taylor. "Raymond never gave in and it was such a tough final, but I'm delighted to win through it.
"I could have been 2-0 up but I wasn't, and I knew I had to start hitting my trebles and my doubles better.
"Barney was hitting the right shots at the right time and putting the pressure on me. I had to put a lot of work in and dig deep to win that."
Had averaged an impressive 99 in the double-start format across his previous four games in the tournament, but struggled to reach that standard in the early sets of the decider.
The duo shared the opening four legs of the first set, but it was the defending champion who faltered in the decider - missing 11 darts at an opening double.
A 180 pulled him back into the leg, but he crucially missed one dart for the set before Van Barneveld took out double top to lead.
The second set also went to a decider, with Taylor posting a 13-darter to lead 2-1 before missing three darts for the set in the next as Van Barneveld broke back.
Taylor also wasted chances to wrap up the set in the decider, before Van Barneveld took out double ten to give himself a 2-0 advantage.
Taylor found top gear to win the third without reply, landing legs of 13, 14 and 11 darts to get back into the match, and finishes of 86 and 110 put him two legs up in the fourth set.
Van Barneveld hit a 177 score to set up a double 16 finish in taking the third leg, but Taylor opened the fourth with a 160 score and defied a maximum from his opponent to land double eight for the set.
Taylor's resurgence continued in the fifth set, with a 13-darter putting him 2-1 up before two missed doubles for the set allowed Van Barneveld to take out 95 and square matters.
Taylor, with the throw, proved simply too strong in the decider, landing a 180 in three ton-plus scores before taking out 96 for an 11-darter in moving 3-2 up in the game.
Back-to-back 13-dart finishes saw Taylor moved clear in the sixth, before he wrapped up the set and a 4-2 cushion on double four after a missed double top from the Dutchman.
Van Barneveld regained his cool to land an 11-darter in squaring set seven, but Taylor took out 62 to move 2-1 up and then matched that finish for a 12-darter in moving just one set away from the win.
The Dutchman hit three maximums in the eighth set, battling to stay in the contest with a pair of 13-darters to stay in the game and edge the set 3-2.
Taylor landed a telling blow with a 13-darter to kick off the ninth, and then broke Van Barneveld's throw in 15 darts, kicking off with a 160 and finishing on double top.
He then sealed victory with a 12-dart leg, featuring a ninth 180 of the game and a 105 checking in wrapping up a historic ninth title.
"I love it," said Taylor, who has now won six televised ranking titles in 2009, at the World Championship, Players Championship Finals, UK Open, Las Vegas Desert Classic, World Matchplay and World Grand Prix.
"I love the competitiveness and the players that are in the game now. I look at players coming through now and there are some cracking players out there.
"A lot of players performed very well this week and Barney was absolutely superb.
"For someone who hadn't thrown a dart for two months coming into the tournament I think he did fantastically to get to the final."
Van Barneveld's defeat was his second in successive years to Taylor in Dublin, but he admitted he lost to the better man on the night.
"I was 2-0 up but knew Phil wasn't playing well," said the Dutchman. "I was lucky to be two sets up, and then he came back at me like I knew he would.
"It was a tough game and the games that went to the last leg, against Alan Tabern and Wes Newton earlier in the year, cost me a lot of energy.
"It's the hardest tournament in the world because you have to start with a double and finish with one. But to me, being in the final is like losing in the first round, you are just the best of the losers."
Copy courtesy of David Allen, PDC Media Officer
Picture courtesy of Lawrence Lustig, PDC