PHIL TAYLOR claimed a 14th BetVictor World Matchplay title and a record-breaking sixth successive victory in the tournament with a stunning 18-13 defeat of Adrian Lewis in Sunday's final at the Winter Gardens.
Taylor's domination of the £400,000 event continued with a relentless performance, maintaining an average of over 110 for the duration of a remarkable final.
He ended the game with an average of 111.23, a record in the 20 World Matchplay finals, and also took out three ton-plus checkouts at key moments during a superb contest.
Lewis played his part with an incredible 19 maximums in defeat, and ended the game with an average of almost 106, but was left to rue a typical mid-game surge from Taylor which turned the game on its head.
Lewis had hit his first 180 in the game's opening leg, which Taylor won in 13 darts only for the world number three to repay the favour in the second.
Taylor also landed a 177 and took out 88 on the bull to win the third in 12 darts, but Lewis finished 87 to level and punished a miss at the middle double from the reigning champion to break with an 81 checkout in leg five.
Lewis then posted a 180 as he took a 4-2 lead, and the next four legs were shared to leave the 28-year-old 6-4 up.
Taylor, though, found another gear to turn the game on its head with an incredible six-leg burst to put himself in command at 10-6, starting the run with double eight before taking out 130 and 123 in successive legs and an 11-dart finish.
Lewis ended the charge by hitting double one after landing the first of eight 180s in as many legs during a sustained burst as he looked to hit back, winning four legs out of five as he pulled back to trail just 11-10.
However, he missed one dart at tops to square the match as Taylor hit double four to break in the 22nd leg, before legs of 13, 12 and 14 darts moved him 15-10 up.
Lewis then punished missed doubles from Taylor to win the next two legs with back-to-back 14-darters, and the fightback continued as he took out 127 on the pull to pull back to 15-13.
He added a 177 in the next leg, but missed three crucial darts at double 12 to allow Taylor back in on double one, before the World Champion finished 136 to move 17-13 and defied two 180s from Lewis by hitting his ninth of the game before sealing a brilliant victory with a 13-dart leg on tops.
"It was tough and it's probably one of the best finals I've ever been involved in," said Taylor. "It was a great final and there were two winners there.
"I knew that Adrian would throw a lot of 180s but my game plan was to hit the 140s and 137s and the odd 180 to keep him under pressure. I had to keep pounding him, and it felt that every time I turned around he was hitting a 180.
"He was phenomenal and I've never played anyone like him because it's very difficult to keep up with him. He was superb.
"When I was 6-4 down I settled down a little bit and threw probably two seconds slower than I had been, because I'd been tending to rush in and I was getting involved with the crowd and with Adrian.
"It's such a special venue for me and it's fantastic for me to win this title again. It's getting harder and harder every year, but it will be hard for it to get any better than this."
Lewis picked up £50,000 as runner-up, but was unable to follow up his recent European Championship victory by claiming back-to-back majors.
"I threw everything at him but he put me under so much pressure," said Lewis. "I gave it my all but I fell short at the end, and Phil showed what a great champion he is.
"Phil's averaged 111 over 31 legs and there will never be another Phil Taylor. He's amazing and it was a great final to be involved in.
"I've had a brilliant couple of weeks and my form's been superb. I've still got a lot more gears yet but I'll stay focused on what I'm doing.
"I'm really pleased to have reached the final here, and I've got lots to look forward to in the rest of the year, starting with going to Australia for the Sydney Darts Masters and then the World Grand Prix in Ireland."
BetVictor World Matchplay
Sunday July 28
Phil Taylor (1) 18-13 Adrian Lewis (3)
Phil Taylor v Adrian Lewis
0-0 - Phil Taylor wins the bull and throws first.
1-0 - Taylor opens with two 140s, and though Lewis lands a 180 in reply, the reigning champion takes out double 16 for a 13-darter to win the opener.
1-1 - Lewis leaves 40 after 12 darts, with Taylor hitting a 180 but only able to watch as the game is levelled with another 13-darter.
2-1 - Taylor lands a 174 score and takes out 88 on the bull to move back ahead.
2-2 - Lewis finishes 87 on double five to win his second leg of the game.
2-3 - Lewis breaks in dramatic fashion, with Taylor missing the bull for a 127 finish as the youngster steps up needing 81, hitting treble 19 but seeing his dart at double 12 land in double five, before he posts double seven to complete the finish and move ahead.
2-4 - Lewis hits a 180 and lands double ten to move two legs clear.
3-4 - Taylor initially misses his chance to win the leg, but Lewis is unable to capitalise and the World Champion returns on double eight.
3-5 - Lewis posts his third 180 and finishes double 18 to regain his cushion.
4-5 - Taylor hits a 171 to leave 32, and lands double 16 for a 13-darter.
4-6 - Lewis maintains his advantage, landing a maximum and finishing 77 on double five - at the second break the averages are 111.17 for Taylor and 109.06 for Lewis.
5-6 - Double eight sees Taylor hit back.
6-6 - Lewis lands a 180, but misses double 16 for a 101 finish, and Taylor breaks back to level with a 130 checkout, ending on double five.
7-6 - Taylor opens with a 180, and regains the lead by completing a 123 combination on double eight.
8-6 - Lewis posts a 180 but misses the bullseye to take out 90, and Taylor finishes 57 on tops to win a fourth successive leg with another break.
9-6 - Taylor fires in a fourth 180 of the game, and lands double six to win a fifth straight leg and move three clear of his opponent.
10-6 - Taylor lands another maximum, and when Lewis misses tops for a 117 checkout, the reigning champion posts double 16 for an 11-darter to continue his surge with a third break of throw.
10-7 - Lewis hits his seventh 180 of the game, and double one with his third dart sees him win his first leg in seven.
10-8 - Both players hit 180s to leave 121 after nine darts, with Taylor unable to hit the bull to complete the combination as Lewis returns to hit double four.
11-8 - Lewis posts another maximum, but Taylor finishes 80 on tops to regain a three-leg lead.
11-9 - Lewis hits a 180 for a fourth successive leg, and when Taylor misses double 14 for a 145 finish, the 28-year-old returns on tops.
11-10 - Lewis breaks back with a superb 11-darter, opening with a 180 and adding a 171 to leave 16 before pinning double eight at the second time of asking.
12-10 - Taylor again breaks throw in a dramatic leg, with Lewis hitting a 180 but unable to hit tops as the reigning champion, who hit a 174 score, lands double four to regain his cushion.
13-10 - Once again Lewis hits a 180, but Taylor completes a 13-dart leg on double top.
14-10 - Taylor scores 174 before Lewis hits a 180 for an eighth successive legs - only to miss the bull to finish 85 as Taylor finishes 87 on double 18.
15-10 - Lewis misses the bull to finish 164, and Taylor moves five legs clear by pinning double top.
15-11 - Lewis hits back to win a remarkable leg in which Taylor opens with 180 and 174 to set up a possible nine-darter and Lewis lands two 180s of his own, before punishing two misses at double 15 from his opponent to reduce the arrears with double five.
15-12 - Taylor misses double 18 for a 116 finish, and Lewis breaks throw on double 12.
15-13 - Lewis fires in his 17th 180 of the game, and takes out 127 on the bull to win a third successive leg.
16-13 - Lewis hits a 177 to leave 24, and when Taylor misses double 18 and nine he steps up - but misses two darts at double 12 and one at double six as Taylor returns to hit double one and move two legs away from the win.
17-13 - Taylor superbly finishes 136 to move to the brink of a record-breaking victory.
18-13 - The pair trade 180s before Lewis hits another maximum - his 19th of the game - only to but unable to finish 100, and Taylor seals the win on tops with a 13-darter.
|Phil Taylor||18-13||Adrian Lewis|
|136, 130, 123||High Finish||127|
|6||Breaks of Throw||4|
|18/34 - 53%||Checkouts %||13/39 - 33%|