PHIL TAYLOR overcame the brave challenge of Greek debutant John Michael to begin the defence of his PartyPoker.net European Championship title with a 6-3 victory in Dusseldorf on Thursday night.

Taylor, who has won the title in the last three years, had to come from a leg down against the newcomer from Athens, who also picked up two more legs and hit a brace of 180s.

However, he was unable to match Taylor’s clinical finishing as the world number one hit six doubles from seven attempts in the match, with his only miss coming in the opening leg which Michael won with a 102 finish.

“John played well and I was impressed with him,” said Taylor, who won a 12th World Matchplay title last Sunday.

“It was a tough game to start with because I didn’t know what to expect from John and he came out flying, but I was very pleased with my finishing and hopefully I can keep it up throughout the weekend.”

Taylor will now play Mervyn King in Saturday’s second round at the Maritim Hotel in Dusseldorf, after the former Premier League Darts finalist produced an impressive 6-1 victory in the tournament’s opening game against Co Stompe.

King has struggled recently with a bout of tennis elbow and was a first round victim in the World Matchplay, but King hit three 13-dart legs in sweeping to the win.

“I’ve been put onto some new anti-inflammatories by my doctor and my elbow has eased down,” said King. “It was great to play without any pain and flowly freely, and this is a fantastic result after the way I’ve been playing for the last year.

“I’m coming off an 18-month spell of some pretty mediocre darts and I know the size of the challenge on Saturday. He’s the guv’nor and I’ll have to be at my best to beat him.”

Simon Whitlock bounced back in style from his World Matchplay heartbreak with a 6-2 defeat of Austria’s Mensur Suljovic.

The Australian had lost nine straight legs to move from 15-8 up to lose 17-15 to Andy Hamilton in the quarter-finals in Blackpool, but took the first four legs without reply against Suljovic before going on to seal the win.

“That was pretty solid for the first game and I’m very happy with that,” said Whitlock. “My finishing was pretty good and it’s filled me with confidence for the rest of the weekend.”

Whitlock now meets Colin Lloyd in round two, after the Essex ace overcame some mid-game missed doubles to come from 3-1 down to win 6-4 against left-hander Alan Tabern.

World number nine Terry Jenkins also came from 3-1 down to win 6-3 in his clash with another left-handed player, Welshman Mark Webster.

The number eight seed started superbly but saw Jenkins hit 180s in three successive legs before sealing the with with a 13-dart leg.

Jenkins will play Paul Nicholson in the second round, with the 2010 Players Championship Finals winner overcoming Justin Pipe 6-3, despite the Taunton ace hitting a 121 finish.

Number four seed Gary Anderson swept past Jamie Caven 6-3 and will now play Lowestoft’s colourful Peter Wright, after he edged out John Part 6-5 in a tense battle, taking victory with a 13-dart finish.

The first round continues on Friday night, with World Champion Adrian Lewis playing Vincent van der Voort, UK Open winner and World Matchplay finalist James Wade taking on Sweden’s Magnus Caris and Raymond van Barneveld playing Andy Hamilton.

Watch coverage live in the UK on ITV4 from 7pm, as well as live on Sport1 in Germany, RTL7 in Holland and through www.livepdc.tv.

PartyPoker.net European Championship
Thursday July 28
First Round
Mervyn King 6-1 Co Stompe
Alan Tabern 4-6 Colin Lloyd
John Part 5-6 Peter Wright
Justin Pipe 3-6 Paul Nicholson
Simon Whitlock 6-2 Mensur Suljovic
Phil Taylor 6-3 John Michael
Mark Webster 4-6 Terry Jenkins
Gary Anderson 6-3 Jamie Caven

Friday July 29 (8pm local time, 7pm BST)
First Round
Wayne Jones v Mark Walsh
Jelle Klaasen v Dave Chisnall
Ronnie Baxter v Michael van Gerwen
Kim Huybrechts v Antonio Alcinas
James Wade v Magnus Caris
Adrian Lewis v Vincent van der Voort
Wes Newton v Andy Smith
Raymond van Barneveld v Andy Hamilton
All games the best of 11 legs

1-0 – King takes the opening leg to get off the mark.
2-0 – The Englishman hits three 140s and finishes double 12 for a 13-darter to break.
2-1 – Stompe hits a 180 in reply and is given a reprieve for three missed doubles when King is unable to land double 16 or eight, and the Dutchman posts double two to break back.
3-1 – King misses the bull for a 128 finish, but Stompe fails to finish double top or ten and King returns for another break, hitting double eight.
4-1 – King hits a 177 to set up double 12, which he hits at the first time of asking for another 13-darter.
5-1 – Stompe’s nightmare on doubles continues as he misses three darts at tops, and King capitalises on double eight.
6-1 – The players trade 180s before King hits another 177 to leave 24, and hits double 12 for a third 13-darter to secure the win, hitting six doubles from seven attempts.

1-0 – Tabern wins the opening leg in 15 darts on double 16.
1-1 – Lloyd levels on double top.
2-1 – Lloyd is first to a finish, but misses the bull for a 121 finish and two darts at double eight to allow Tabern in to hold throw on double ten.
3-1 – Lloyd opens with a 180 and is first to the finish, but misses a total of seven darts to win the leg before Tabern takes out 76 on double 18 to break.
3-2 – Lloyd regains his touch on the doubles by finishing 62 in two darts to break back.
3-3 – Both players miss a dart at double top, and Lloyd returns to post double ten and level.
3-4 – Lloyd is first to a finish against the throw, and finishes double 16 for a 14-darter to lead for the first time.
3-5 – Lloyd moves a leg away from the win by posting a confident double top, despite his earlier misses.
4-5 – Tabern wins his first leg in five on double ten, having earlier missed three darts at doubles.
4-6 – Lloyd secures his victory with a 64 finish, ending on double top.

1-0 – Part opens the match by hitting double eight
1-1 – Part hits a 180 but Wright replies by landing double ten
2-1 – Part misses double top for a 150 finish, but Wright cannot convert double 18 for a 144 checkout and the Canadian hits double top.
2-2 – Wright misses three darts at double ten and five, but Part is unable to break on double 12 and he returns to post double two.
2-3 – Double two again comes to Wright’s rescue.
3-3 – Part breaks back on double top at the first time of asking.
3-4 – Wright breaks again on double eight to edge back ahead.
4-4 – Part hits back immediately on double 16.
5-4 – The tension mounts as both players miss a host of doubles before Part wins a crucial leg on double one.
5-5 – Wright lands his first 180 of the match, and sends the game into a deciding leg on double five.
5-6 – Wright finishes with a flourish to take victory, hitting a 13-darter to win the game on double 12.

0-1 – Nicholson wins the opening leg on double top.
0-2 – Pipe sees his chance to level slip away with missed doubles, and Nicholson breaks on double four.
1-2 – Nicholson opens with a 180 but misses double 13 for an 81 finish and Pipe brilliant takes out 121 on double 14.
2-2 – Nicholson misses four darts to win the leg, and Pipe returns to hit double nine.
2-3 – Both players miss with darts at double 16 before Nicholson holds his nerve to edge back ahead.
2-4 – Nicholson hits a 180, and returns following a miss at double ten from Pipe to land double eight and break.
3-4 – Pipe opens with a 180 and, after missing the bull for a 121 finish, returns to hit an improvised 25 finish of single 12, five and double four.
3-5 – Nicholson wins a key leg, with Pipe missing three darts to level on double top and ten before the world number ten finishes 86 with single 18, double 18 and double 16.
3-6 – Nicholson secures a hard-fought victory on double ten.

1-0 – Whitlock opens the match with double eight.
2-0 – Whitlock doubles his lead on tops in an impressive start to the game.
3-0 – Another double top finish sees Whitlock win a third leg.
4-0 – Whitlock finishes 101 on double 16 for a fourth successive leg.
4-1 – Suljovic avoids a whitewash by landing double ten to get off the mark, but only after Whitlock misses double 18 for a 144 finish.
4-2 – The Austrian wins a second successive leg, this time on double 16, to halve the gap.
5-2 – Whitlock lands a 180 and double 16 puts him a leg away from victory.
6-2 – The Australian lands a 171 score to leave 24 after 12 darts, and finishes double six to seal the victory and erase the memories of his quarter-final loss in the World Matchplay last week.

0-1 – Greek debutant Michael makes an amazing start, hitting a 180 with his second visit to the oche and punishing a missed double 16 from Taylor by hitting the same bed for a 102 finish to break throw.
1-1 – Taylor replies with a 180 of his own before finishing 77 on double top to break back.
2-1 – Taylor moves ahead by finishing 81 on double 16 for a 12-darter.
3-1 – Michael lands his second 180, but Taylor hits the winning double, again posting double 16 to take a third straight leg.
4-1 – Taylor wins a third straight leg on double 16.
4-2 – Michael wins his second leg, finishing double 19 to hit back.
5-2 – Taylor replies in style, hitting a 180 to open the seventh leg and finishing 84 for an 11-darter.
5-3 – Michael wins a third leg, taking out double nine at the second time of asking.
6-3 – Taylor seals victory with a 13-darter, finishing on double 12.

1-0 – Webster lands a 180 and hits double 16 at the fourth time of asking to lead.
2-0 – Webster doubles his advantage on tops.
2-1 – Jenkins gets off the mark by hitting double eight with his fourth dart at the bed.
3-1 – Webster edges two legs clear again by hitting double four.
3-2 – Jenkins wins his second leg, hitting double top at the third time of asking.
3-3 – Jenkins opens with a 180 and breaks with an 84 finish on the bull.
3-4 – Jenkins lands another maximum and finishes 61 on double 18 to lead for the first time.
4-4 – Jenkins kicks off the leg with another maximum, but fails to close out the leg and Webster posts double ten to hit back.
4-5 – A tense ninth leg sees Jenkins first to a finish as he posts double eight to move a leg away from the win.
4-6 – Jenkins seals victory in style with a 13-darter, which he completes on double 12.

1-0 – Anderson makes a solid start, opening with double top for a 15-dart leg.
2-0 – Caven hits a 171 score to leave 32, but Anderson finishes 80 in two darts to double his lead.
2-1 – Caven hits double three to get off the mark.
2-2 – Anderson misses his chances to restore a two-leg lead as Caven makes him pay on double eight to level.
3-2 – Anderson opens with a 180 and wins the leg on double top with a 12-darter.
3-3 – Caven misses the bull but Anderson is unable to hit double top and the Derby ace finishes double seven to level.
4-3 – Double top gives Anderson a fourth leg.
5-3 – Anderson posts a 180 and hits double top to break and move a leg away from the win.
6-3 – Anderson lands another 180 and hits double ten to seal the win.

Source PDC/Lawrence Lustig

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