An article by Mark Bowering on Behalf of Tournament Sponsor Ladbrokes

Phil Taylor goes into tonight’s Ladbrokes World Darts Championship final full of praise for opponent Michael van Gerwen – and claims the Dutch rookie is one of a kind.

World Darts Championship

A One Off? – Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Van Gerwen has undoubtedly been the player of the tournament and proved to be box-office entertainment on the big stage at Ally Pally.

The pulsating 5-4 quarter-final over defending champion Adrian Lewis was followed 24 hours later by his nine-dart heroics in a 6-4 victory over third seed James Wade.

Only a missed double 12 prevented the 23-year-old from hitting back-to-back nine-dart finishes and Van Gerwen is currently evens with tournament sponsors Ladbrokesto defeat Taylor in the final.

Taylor is the first to admit that the 2012 World Grand Prix champion is enigmatic and is relishing facing him for the chance to win a 16th world title.

Taylor said: “His scoring, his passion, his aggression and his will to win – he’s got the full package has Michael.

“Sometimes, you watch him and you think he’s not even aiming, but they’re going in!

“I’ve watched him playing against me on the Pro Tour and he’s amazing. He’s phenomenal. A one-off. I’ve seen maybe four generations, but he’s a different kettle of fish this kid.

“Dennis Priestley at his best could have matched him, and Adrian Lewis the other night was unlucky, especially when he missed the 60. It just shows you how good Adrian is.

“He’s no pretender. He’s a cracker.”

Taylor, who is currently being hampered by the flu, has likened Van Gerwen to both Ronnie O’Sullivan and Jonah Lomu due to his showmanship and star quality.

Van Gerwen as enjoyed a successful past six months, with the only blip on his copybook being defeat in the Slam of Darts final to Raymond van Barneveld in Wolverhampton in November, an experience he insists will stand him in good stead when he faces Taylor.

“Of course, you always learn from losing a game,” he said.

“I would have liked to have played Raymond in the final to set things right after the final in Wolverhampton.”

While much of the attention surrounding Van Gerwen going into the final is focussed on his 17 perfect darts against Wade, he prefers to focus on winning games rather than discussing nine-dart finishes.

He added: “I’m playing very well at the moment.

“I’ve done well in this tournament so far, but it’s all about winning and not about nine-darters or high averages.

“You’ve got to win games in this tournament – that’s all.”