sport

Taylor to tackle Webster

Phil Taylor will begin his bid to win a 15th BetVictor World Matchplay title against Darren Webster at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool next month, while top seed Michael van Gerwen takes on Steve Beaton in their first round clash.

Taylor, who is unbeaten at the World Matchplay since 2007 after winning a record six successive Blackpool titles, drew qualifier Darren Webster - who last competed in the event in 2005 - when the draw was made on Monday.

"I know Darren really well and it will be a tough game," said Taylor. "I've got three weeks until the tournament now and I'll be putting in a lot of hard work, because I know I need to.

"I've got to improve my game if I'm going to keep this title because it's such a strong field this year, and if you're not at your best you'll be going home.

"But I love the World Matchplay and Blackpool and I've got some great memories there. Hopefully I'll have some more at the end of this event!"

World Champion and number one seed Michael van Gerwen, the 2/1 tournament favourite, takes on Steve Beaton - Sunday's Gibraltar Darts Trophy runner-up - in their first round clash, while 2013 World Matchplay finalist Adrian Lewis drew debutant Andrew Gilding.

Australian ace Simon Whitlock, the number four seed and a former semi-finalist, was draw with Kevin Painter for their first round contest.

2007 World Matchplay champion James Wade, the only other former winner in the 32-player field and Sunday's Gibraltar Dart Trophy winner, was drawn against Andy Smith.

World Championship runner-up Peter Wright, seeded sixth, will face debutant Stephen Bunting in a tasty first round contest, with the reigning Lakeside Champion securing a coveted spot in the World Matchplay inside six months on the PDC circuit.

Former UK Open champion Robert Thornton drew Paul Nicholson, Andy Hamilton faces Wayne Jones and Dave Chisnall takes on Dean Winstanley, while local rivals Wes Newton and Ronnie Baxter - based in Fleetwood and Blackpool respectivel - will clash on their home stage.

Gary Anderson, who has won five ranking titles in his return to the world's top 16 this year, drew Jamie Caven, with Brendan Dolan taking on former finalist Richie Burnett.

Premier League Darts champion Raymond van Barneveld has drawn fellow Dutchman Vincent van der Voort - who sealed his place in the event by winning the Austrian Darts Open last weekend.

Mervyn King takes on Kim Huybrechts, Justin Pipe drew former World Youth Champion Michael Smith and Ian White faces Terry Jenkins, a two-time World Matchplay finalist who was also the last player to defeat Taylor in the tournament back in 2007.

First Round DrawMichael van Gerwen (1) v Steve BeatonIan White (16) v Terry JenkinsAndy Hamilton (8) v Wayne JonesDave Chisnall (9) v Dean WinstanleyJames Wade (5) v Andy SmithBrendan Dolan (12) v Richie BurnettSimon Whitlock (4) v Kevin PainterRaymond van Barneveld (13) v Vincent van der VoortPhil Taylor (2) v Darren WebsterJustin Pipe (15) v Michael SmithRobert Thornton (7) v Paul NicholsonWes Newton (10) v Ronnie BaxterPeter Wright (6) v Stephen BuntingGary Anderson (11) v Jamie CavenAdrian Lewis (3) v Andrew GildingMervyn King (14) v Kim Huybrechts