PHIL TAYLOR and Michael van Gerwen will contest the BetVictor World Matchplay final on Sunday night, following thrilling semi-final victories against Gary Anderson and Simon Whitlock in Blackpool.

Reigning champion Taylor’s bid for a 15th World Matchplay triumph – and an incredible seventh in succession at the Winter Gardens – continues after he overcame Anderson 17-15 in an epic contest.

After Taylor opened the contest with a 119 bull finish and took an early 5-2 lead, Anderson replied in style to put himself 8-7 up, finishing 108 and 105 in successive legs as he took the game to the reigning champion.

Taylor hit back by finishing 100 with two double tops as he moved back ahead before finishing 146 in moving 12-10 up – and when Anderson missed his chance to level at 12-all the Stoke great capitalised.

Taylor then moved out to 14-11 up, with the pair trading 180s in the next as Anderson again hit back, taking two of the next three legs to stay in touch a 15-13.

Anderson also kicked off the 29th leg with a maximum – his 11th of the game – but Taylor replied with his sixth 180 before finishing a 12-darter on double seven to move to the brink of victory.

Anderson finished 61 to stay in the hunt and then punished four missed match darts from Taylor at double 18 by hitting tops to pull back to 16-15, but Taylor’s reply was stunning as he hit three 140s before taking out 81 for an 11-darter to complete a memorable triumph.

“That was an absolutely cracking match and it’s one of the best games I’ve played in my career,” said Taylor.

“I’m very pleased with my performance and everything’s coming together, and if I’d lost I wouldn’t have been too unhappy because I’m playing proper darts again.

“That’s the best I’ve seen Gary play for a long time too. He was superb and he’s got that belief again, and I’ve got so much admiration for him

“I threw everything at him and he kept coming back at me and putting me under pressure.”

Taylor has been made the 4/5 favourite by sponsors BetVictor going into the final against van Gerwen, with the pre-tournament favourite now Evens to win his first World Matchplay title.

Taylor added “Both semi-finals were great and I think the final will be a cracker too. Michael’s in for a tough game tomorrow because he’s playing a Phil Taylor who’s playing proper darts again.

“It would be really special to win this title again because I’ve been through a lot and have come out of it.”

Van Gerwen also came through a fascinating semi-final battle as he defeated world number four Simon Whitlock 17-13 in another memorable game.

Van Gerwen hit 180s in winning the opening two legs before Whitlock, inspired by a 133 finish in the third, put himself 4-2 up.

The Australian also held a 7-5 lead following a superb 112 checkout, only for van Gerwen to then win five successive legs to move himself 10-5 up, with the run sparked by an 11-darter and also including a 138 finish.

Whitlock took out 120 and 100 in successive legs as he hit back to 11-10 and then squared the game at 12-all.

The next two legs were shared before van Gerwen made his move, taking the 27th leg with the help of a 180 in a 13-darter before breaking throw in 11 darts to lead 15-13.

He then moved to the brink of victory on double ten before completing the win with another 13-darter as he secured his place in the final in Blackpool for the first time.

“It’s amazing to be in the final,” said van Gerwen. “I love this tournament and I’ve got one mission, which is to win this title.

“I’m not done on this stage yet – I’ve got one more game to go, and I want to improve because I didn’t play my best darts. I’m a bit disappointed because I know I can do more, but I found a way to win.

“Simon made it very difficult and I thought I put in a great performance and I think I did well when I needed to at the end. When it was 13-all I think I showed my class with my scoring.

“I found a way to win but I think I was scoring better all the way through the game and I couldn’t find a bit extra to dominate the game.”

Whitlock’s run to the semi-finals matched his previous best in the tournament, but he was left disappointed after van Gerwen took the final four legs without reply.

“I didn’t produce the big darts when I needed them, and Michael did, he was the better player,” said Whitlock. “I thought I was going to win right through the match, but I didn’t take my chances and had too many bad darts.

“I’m not happy with how I played and I had too many bad darts. I tried my best but it wasn’t quite enough.

“I’ve played some amazing darts in the last few months, won a tournament and reached finals and semi-finals and I’m playing really well at the minute, but I’m just lacking something a little bit more – maybe a double here or there – and that’s the difference between winning a losing.

“I can change that, and I’ve come from behind in two matches in this tournament to win. I’m confident and everything’s going well, and I’ll be looking to make my mark in the World Series events in Singapore and Australia next.”

Anderson’s success in reaching the semi-finals comes following five tournament victories this year, and ensures his return to the world’s top ten as his resurgence in 2014 continued.

“That was the real Phil Taylor, and when he turns up like that he can beat anyone and everyone,” said Anderson.

“People knock Phil when he has a bad spell but he’s back now. I’ve been there myself and come back, and I’m enjoying my darts at the moment.

“I’m scaring the rest of the players now and they’d better watch out, and I know what my game’s like. It’s taken Phil Taylor at his best to stop me and I’m back playing well.”

BetVictor World Matchplay Darts Results

Saturday July 26
Michael van Gerwen 17-13 Simon Whitlock
Phil Taylor 17-15 Gary Anderson

Sunday July 27
Evening Session (7pm)
Michael van Gerwen v Phil Taylor

Final – Best of 35 legs
* Each game must be won by two clear legs, with up to a maximum of five additional legs being played before the sixth “extra” leg is sudden-death.

Michael van Gerwen v Simon Whitlock
0-0 – Michael van Gerwen wins the bull and will throw first.
1-0 – van Gerwen lands a nerve-settling 180 in the opening leg before finishing double 16 to get off the mark.
2-0 – The Dutchman breaks as he opens with a 180 before completing a 14-dart leg on double 14.
2-1 – Whitlock wins his first leg of the game in spectacular fashion by taking out 133 with a combination of treble 19 and two double 19s.
2-2 – Whitlock lands his first 180 of the game, and though he initially misses the bull and two further darts to win the leg, van Gerwen is unable to post tops to allow him back on double two to level.
2-3 – Double ten sees Whitlock continue his momentum as he breaks throw to move ahead.
2-4 – Whitlock posts a 180 and then scores 162 – with three treble 18s – to leave 36, which he pins for a 13-dart leg.
3-4 – van Gerwen wins his first leg in five on double top.
3-5 – Whitlock replies on double top to regain his edge.
4-5 – van Gerwen initially misses tops for a 112 finish, before returning to hit the bed.
5-5 – van Gerwen breaks throw to level, finishing 80 on double top as he squares the game.
5-6 – The World Champion misses the bull to finish 164 and is also unable to pin double eight and four, allowing Whitlock to break with a superb 13-darter on tops.
5-7 – Whitlock’s versatility around the dartboard continues as he takes out 112 with a single 20, treble 18 and double 19 combination.
6-7 – van Gerwen hits back with a superb 11-darter, adding a 180 before finishing double 16.
7-7 – The duo trade 180s, with van Gerwen initially missing double 12 for a 104 checkout only for Whitlock to miss two darts at double ten, allowing him back in on double six.
8-7 – van Gerwen finishes 56 as he moves back ahead with his third successive leg.
9-7 – van Gerwen opens with a 180 before finishing a superb 138 checkout on double 12 to break.
10-7 – The Dutch ace wins a fifth straight leg, with Whitlock landing a 180 but missing a dart at tops to finish 116 in allowing his opponent in to hit the same bed.
10-8 – Whitlock posts his fifth 180 of the game before landing double ten to reply.
11-8 – van Gerwen responds by taking out 72 on tops.
11-9 – van Gerwen leaves 40 after 12 darts, but can only watch on as Whitlock takes out his third ton-plus finish with a 120 combination.
11-10 – Whitlock posts his sixth 180 of the game before taking out 100 to break throw.
12-10 – van Gerwen breaks back by hitting tops.
12-11 – van Gerwen opens with a 180 but is punished for a missed bullseye, to take out 86, in allowing Whitlock to break with double eight.
12-12 – Whitlock levels the contest by hitting double top.
13-12 – van Gerwen misses double top for a 118 finish, but Whitlock is unable to land double 18 for a 116 checkout, allowing the Dutchman to regain the lead on tops.
13-13 – Whitlock posts double ten to level.
14-13 – van Gerwen hits his seventh maximum to move clear, meaning that a 180 from Whitlock comes in vain as the Dutchman posts double 18 for a 13-darter.
15-13 – van Gerwen breaks throw to move two legs clear, hitting a 177 before posting tops to edge closer to victory.
16-13 – Double ten moves van Gerwen to the brink of victory, after Whitlock was unable to finish 127.
17-13 – Whitlock posts his eighth 180 as he battles to stay in the game, but fails to give himself a drt at a double when needing 70, allowing van Gerwen back to seal the win on double three.

Phil Taylor v Gary Anderson
0-0 – Phil Taylor wins the bull and will throw first.
1-0 – Taylor opens the game with a 180 before taking out 119 on the bull to win the opening leg, with Anderson waiting on 40.
1-1 – Anderson hits a 180 before replying on double 16 to finish 64.
2-1 – Double nine sees Taylor edge back ahead.
2-2 – Both players miss the bull for ton-plus finishes – Anderson on 167 and Taylor on 121 – before the Scot returns on double 12.
3-2 – Taylor finishes 84 on double eight as he regains the lead, with both players averaging over 109.
4-2 – Anderson is punished for missed doubles across two visits before Taylor steps in to break for the first time.
5-2 – Taylor finishes double eight to win a third successive leg.
5-3 – Anderson replies with an 11-darter, opening with scores of 180 and 140 before hitting tops.
5-4 – Anderson lands a 180 to leave 70, and when Taylor misses tops to finish 72, the Scot breaks throw by hitting the same bed for a 14-darter.
6-4 – Anderson misses tops for a 110 finish, and Taylor capitalises to break on double 14.
7-4 – Taylor moves three legs clear for the first time, with Anderson hitting a 180 but missing double 13 for an 81 finish to allow the reigning champion back in on double 12.
7-5 – Anderson hits his sixth 180 of the game, and returns from missing double four to hit the bed – although Taylor wired double 11 for a 142 checkout in between.
7-6 – Anderson fires in another maximum before taking out 108 on double top to break throw.
7-7 – Anderson this time takes out 105 with a superb combination of outer bull and two double tops.
7-8 – The Scot wins a fourth successive leg as he breaks throw to lead for the first time, with Taylor landing a 180 but wiring tops for a 78 finish to allow Anderson in to take out 68 on the same bed.
8-8 – Taylor misses two darts at double 18, but Anderson is unable to land double 16 to allow him back in to hit the bed to break back.
9-8 – Taylor finishes 100 with two double tops to regain the lead.
9-9 – Taylor misses tops to take out 70, and Anderson steps in to finish 69 on the bull as he levels again.
10-9 – Anderson sees a golden opportunity to break throw slip away as he misses five darts at doubles, with Taylor stepping in on double ten to regain the edge.
10-10 – Taylor posts a third 180 of the game, but misses two darts at double 14 when needing 85 to allow Anderson in to take out 94 for a 14-darter.
11-10 – Taylor regains the lead by finishing 82 on double top.
12-10 – Taylor takes out the biggest finish of the game so far, checking out 146 on double 16.
12-11 – Anderson opens with a 180 before finishing tops to break back.
13-11 – Taylor regains his cushion in a dramatic leg, opening with a 177 score which was bettered by Anderson’s 180 before the tension rose, with Taylor’s three missed doubles in two visits followed by misses from Anderson at double 17 and eight, allowing the reigning champion back to post double one.
14-11 – Taylor posts a 180 and finishes 42 to move three legs clear.
14-12 – The pair trade 180s before Anderson punishes a miss from Taylor, at double seven, by taking out double eight to reply.
15-12 – Anderson misses the bull for a 170 finish, and Taylor steps in to land double four to move two legs away from the final.
15-13 – Tops sees Anderson reply to stay in touch.
16-13 – Anderson opens with 180 – his 11th of the game – and 140, but Taylor replies with a maximum before finishing 85 on double seven to move to the brink of the final.
16-14 – Anderson finishes 61 on double 18 to keep his hopes alive, but knows that he must break Taylor’s throw in the next leg to stay in the hunt.
16-15 – Taylor misses four darts at double 18, and Anderson hits tops to break throw.
17-15 – Taylor responds by hitting three 140s before taking out 81 for an 11-darter to seal his place in a seventh successive World Matchplay final.

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