PHIL TAYLOR brushed off the challenge of Paul Nicholson to sweep into the quarter-finals of the PartyPoker.com World Grand Prix on Thursday night, as Mark Webster, Mark Hylton and Richie Burnett also won through to the last eight.

World number one Taylor continued his bid for a tenth victory in the double-start format with a comfortable straight-sets victory over Nicholson, who failed to live up to the pre-match hype as he took on the Stoke great.

Taylor dropped just three legs in the game, and hit key finishes of 105, 120 and 147 in setting up a quarter-final with Mark Webster on Friday night.

“I’m really pleased with the win and it’s another indication that my game’s in good shape at the moment,” said Taylor. “Paul didn’t play as well as he can. He’s making a name for himself at the moment and he’s a very good player, but he’s not as consistent enough yet.”

Webster, who defeated Taylor in the quarter-finals of the World Championship in January, set up a repeat of that clash with a strong 3-1 defeat of Alan Tabern.

The Welshman shared the opening two sets but won six out of the final seven legs to move into the last eight on his debut at the Citywest Hotel.

“I’m glad to be in the quarter-finals but I won’t be sitting on my laurels and I’ll be confident,” said Webster. “I’ll go into it believing I can win the game.

“Obviously Phil’s the world number one and he’ll be the favourite but I beat him over a sets format in the World Championship. I’ve had hidings from him too but that doesn’t put me off and I’m not scared of him.”

Mark Hylton produced the biggest win of his career as he defeated number five seed Simon Whitlock 3-1 to reach only his second major televised quarter-final, coming from a set behind to take victory.

“It’s a dream come true to be in the quarter-finals,” said Hylton. “I’ve watched this event before and always fancied myself in it because I’ve played double-start in local leagues for a lot of years. On the stage it’s not quite as easy though!

“I’m getting towards my aim of the top 32 and I continue to surprise myself because I’ve only been playing professionally for 18 months and I’m getting better and better.

“I’ve still got a lot to improve on, but to beat Simon Whitlock 3-1 speaks volumes for me.”

He will face resurgent Richie Burnett on Friday night, after the Welshman won through to his first televised quarter-final since the 2004 Las Vegas Desert Classic with a 3-1 win over Denis Ovens.

Burnett only qualified for the World Grand Prix by winning a Players Championship in Holland a fortnight ago, but followed up Tuesday’s defeat of world number four Gary Anderson with another vintage display.

“I’m still taking it all in,” admitted Burnett. “It’s fantastic to be back.

After six or seven years away from playing on the stage, it’s taken me a while to get used to it again. It was my domain – it was where I played better – and it’s coming back.”

Friday’s quarter-finals will kick off with Northern Ireland’s Brendan Dolan taking on Scottish newcomer John Henderson, before reigning champion James Wade plays Andy Smith.

Taylor then takes on Webster, before Burnett and Hylton clash in the night’s final game.

PartyPoker.com World Grand Prix
Second Round
Thursday

Mark Webster 3-1 Alan Tabern
Simon Whitlock 1-3 Mark Hylton
Phil Taylor 3-0 Paul Nicholson
Richie Burnett 3-1 Denis Ovens

Quarter-Finals
Friday (7pm)
Brendan Dolan v John Henderson
Andy Smith v James Wade
Phil Taylor v Mark Webster
Mark Hylton v Richie Burnett
Best of seven sets

MARK WEBSTER 3-1 ALAN TABERN
(3-0, 1-3, 3-1, 3-0)
MARK WEBSTER won through to the quarter-finals in his first PartyPoker.com World Grand Prix with a 3-1 defeat of Alan Tabern at the New Citywest Convention Centre on Thursday.

The Welshman won the battle of the left-handers with a strong display, winning six of the game’s final seven legs after sharing the opening two sets with Tabern, who made a miracle comeback against Dave Chisnall in the first round.

Webster made an explosive start, with a pair of double ten finishes giving him the opening two legs before he also won the third to take the first set without reply.

He could also have led in the second, but missed double ten for a 140 finish as Tabern landed double top to win his first leg and double ten to take the second, despite a maximum from Webster.

Webster hit a second 180 in the third leg, and finished 142 brilliantly on tops to pull back to 2-1, only to then miss the same double in the next as Tabern capitalised to secure the set on double ten.

A pair of double top finishes gave Webster the lead in the third, and although Tabern took the third in reply and hit a 180 in leg four, Webster hit double ten to secure the set 3-1.

A 65 finish saw Webster lead in the fourth set, and he broke throw in the second leg to move one away from the victory.

The Welshman missed five match darts in the next, but Tabern was unable to convert two chances to stay in the game, as Webster returned to hit double four for the win.

“I thought I was very steady but I was very wary of Alan,” said Webster. “He’d been given a second life because Dave Chisnall missed 13 darts against him in the first round, so he was pretty relaxed.

“The start gave me confidence and although he got back level I always felt I was a score ahead of him. He’s a good finisher so I was glad to close it out.

“I’m glad to be in the quarter-finals but I won’t be sitting on my laurels and I’ll be confident.”

MARK HYLTON 3-1 SIMON WHITLOCK
(1-3, 3-2, 3-1, 3-1)
MARK HYLTON produced the biggest victory of his career, sending world number five Simon Whitlock crashing out of the PartyPoker.com World Grand Prix with a 3-1 triumph at Dublin’s New Citywest Convention Centre.

The left-hander from Rugeley followed up June’s run to the quarter-finals of the Speedy Hire UK Open by winning through to the last eight of his second major in style at the double-start event.

Having defeated Mark Walsh on his World Grand Prix debut on Sunday, Hylton was superb in seeing off the number five seed, who suffered a last 16 loss for the second successive year in Ireland.

Whitlock had made a strong start, hitting a 171 in taking the opening leg, and after trading double ten finishes with the left-hander he hit a 180 nd double four to secure the opening set 3-1.

The Australian also hit a 180 and double ten to break in the second set’s opener, but three misses at double 16 in the next allowed Hylton in to level with a 79 finish on double 11 before leading by winning the third.

Whitlock finished 124 on the bull to square the set, but Hylton took the decider on double five to level the game.

Hylton made a brilliant start to the third set to take the lead for the first time, hitting 180s in the first two legs, which he won with a 68 finish and a 14-darter.

Whitlock landed a 180 in taking the third, but Hylton wrapped up the set 3-1 with a brilliant 13-darter, opening with a 160 and hitting a 180 before landing double 12.

Whitlock produced a superb leg to win the fourth set’s opener, hitting back-to-back 180s and double 16 for an 11-darter.

However, he missed double 15 as Hylton levelled before wasting his chance in the third – missing three darts at doubles to leave six, before hitting a single 15 instead of single two to set up double two on his return to the oche.

Hylton pounced on double top, and hit a 180 in the next in setting up 92 to secure a famous victory.

PHIL TAYLOR 3-0 PAUL NICHOLSON
(3-1, 3-1, 3-1)
PHIL TAYLOR brushed off the challenge of Paul Nicholson to sweep into the quarter-finals of the PartyPoker.com World Grand Prix with a straight sets triumph at the New Citywest Convention Centre.

The world number one continued his bid for a tenth victory in the double-start format with a comfortable victory over Nicholson, who failed to live up to the pre-match hype.

Taylor dropped just three legs in the game, and took out a trio of ton-plus finishes to set up a quarter-final with Mark Webster on Friday night.

Taylor had taken the game’s opening leg on double 16, a bed which would be profitable throughout the contest.

Nicholson hit a 180 and double top to level, but Taylor produced two fine finishes to take the next two legs and win the set, following up a 105 checkout by taking out 120.

Nicholson posted another maximum and a 140 in a 12-darter to take the second set’s opener, but Taylor landed double 16 in the next two and then hit double eight to win another set 3-1.

A pair of misses from Nicholson allowed Taylor to follow up a 180 with tops to win the third set’s opening leg, and while Nicholson levelled on double ten his opponent produced a killer blow in the third leg.

Nicholson posted a 171 score to leave 122, but with Taylor needing 147 he hit treble 20, treble 17 and double 18 to move a leg away from the victory, which he sealed with an 89 finish on double 16.

“I’m really pleased with the win and it’s another indication that my game’s in good shape at the moment,” said Taylor.

“Paul didn’t play as well as he can. He’s making a name for himself at the moment and he’s a very good player, but he’s not as consistent enough yet.

“He does everything right and he’s got to keep doing that until he finds a way of getting the consistency every week.”

Taylor meets Webster in the quarter-finals on Friday night, having lost to the left-hander in the World Championship on New Year’s Day.

He added: “Mark’s done his apprenticeship, he’s won a World Championship and beaten me at Alexandra Palace, and the Premier League this year gave him a lot of experience. He’s confident and it will be an exciting game.”

RICHIE BURNETT 3-1 DENIS OVENS
(2-3, 3-1, 3-1, 3-2)
RICHIE BURNETT’S incredible revival continued as he defeated Denis Ovens 3-1 to reach his first major quarter-final since 2004 at the PartyPoker.com World Grand Prix.

The Welshman – who had dropped out of the world’s top 150 just over a year ago – was a last-ditch qualifier for the double-start tournament in Dublin when he won a Players Championship event in Holland a fortnight ago.

However, he followed up his defeat of world number four Gary Anderson in the first round but coming from a set down against Ovens on Thursday night to set up a quarter-final with emerging left-hander Mark Hylton as he continues his return to darts’ big-time.

The Welshman started brightly, responding to Ovens winning the opening leg by posting 180s in the next two which he won with a 14-darter and a 94 checkout.

Ovens broke back immediately with an 11-dart finish, and then won the opening set on double top to edge into the lead.

Burnett posted a 180 in taking the opener to set two on double 16, and although Ovens levelled he would win the next two, firstly with double top after his opponent hit a maximum before then punishing 14 missed opening doubles from the Hertfordshire ace with double eight to take the set.

Ovens’ double trouble continued in the third set’s opener as he missed nine to begin the first leg, which Ovens took in 14 darts before finishing double 16 for a 13-darter to lead 2-0.

Ovens replied by winning the third, but Burnett posted another double top finish to secure the set and move 2-1 up in the contest.

Ovens won an edgy opener to set four on double ten to break, but when he missed two darts to win the second Burnett levelled on double five before finishing a fine 13-darter to move a leg away from victory.

Ovens hit a 180 in taking the fourth to keep the game alive, and the pair raised the standard in the set’s deciding leg.

Burnett opened with a 120, which was matched by Ovens before the pair traded 140s. The Welshman powered in a fifth 180 of the game to leave 20 after 12 darts, and although Ovens hit a 145 to leave 36 they proved to be his final darts as Burnett hit double ten to move into the last eight.

“I’m still taking it all in,” admitted Burnett afterwards. “It’s fantastic to be back.

“It’s tough playing in the floor tournaments but that’s built my confidence up and, after six or seven years away from playing on the stage, it’s taken me a while to get used to it again.

“I find it really hard to get a rhythm in this format but I just played the board and got the win. Denis is a lovely guy and I’ve got great respect for him. Like Gary he’s a great sportsman and I enjoyed playing him.

“It was tough and I felt nervous because the pressure was on me after what happened in the first round.

“I’ve got the attitude that you’ve got to go for it, and when the darts go in it felt great. Denis started coming back at me in the fourth set but when I left the double ten for the match I knew I wouldn’t miss it.”

Source – PDC/Lawrence Lustig