sport

Taylor crowned in Blackpool

Phil Taylor claimed the World Matchplay title for a 15th time with a comprehensive 18-9 victory over world number one Michael van Gerwen in Blackpool.

The Power stretched his unbeaten run at the Winter Gardens by lifting the trophy for an astonishing seventh successive year, turning in a virtuoso display as he finished with an average of over 107.

He laid the platform for a comfortable night by breezing into a 7-1 lead, turning the mouthwatering showdown between the two biggest names in the sport into a rather anti-climatic, one-sided affair.

Van Gerwen held his throw in the second leg but then had to wait until the ninth before winning another, though that was only brief respite as he then went on to lose the next four in a row to leave himself already facing defeat.

Taylor made it 8-2 in 11 darts and then took out 121 in the next, making it a matter of when - not if - he would be crowned champion yet again at a venue he has made his own.

'Mighty Mike' at least made him wait, at one stage getting the deficit down to 11-5. That included a checkout of 127 that confused the referee, as he failed to spot the reigning world champion had landed the bull to take the leg.

Taylor was a little perplexed as he stood on the oche waiting to throw for a double. It was about the only time he would look troubled on stage, however, with a 124 finish in the 17th leg coming with his rival itching to have a shot at double tops.

The Stoke thrower twice took out 40 to move to the brink of glory and although he missed the same shot in the next, allowing Van Gerwen to gain a stay of execution, he made no mistake in the 27th leg.

Taylor said after the presentation - which included him being handed a cheque for 100,000 - that the last few months had been \"an absolute nightmare\" after struggling to find form, with a change of equipment leading to an upturn in his fortunes.

When asked where this ranked in his 15 wins in the event, Taylor told Sky Sports. \"It's my best ever.\"

"The last six months has been an absolute nightmare for me. I've been coming up here, trying so hard.

\"(I wanted) to go up there and give him a game, everything was trying to put him off his normal game because he's a marvellous player. He's got years left - I haven't. He's world no 1 - the best darts player in the world. I'm trying to get my ranking back."

An emotional Van Gerwen - who has now lost 25 times to Taylor in their 36 encounters - admitted he had simply not been good enough, despite ending with a three-dart average of 101.

\"Phil was the better player,\" he said. \"I wanted to give him a great game but I couldn't do that, for some reason. I'm disappointed in myself.

\"He was the better one today - simple. He was the better player all tournament and he deserved to win.\"