Taylor survives scare to progress at World Championship

Taylor survives scare to progress at World Championship

Defending champion Phil Taylor survived an early scare against Rob Szabo to move into the second round of the PDC World Championship at Alexandra Palace.

Taylor is aiming for a 17th world title and took the opening leg but Szabo, who had earlier beaten Ian Moss 4-3 for the right to face the Stoke thrower, hit back to take the first set 3-1 thanks to check-outs of 128 and 105.

The New Zealander claimed his fourth leg in a row at the start of the second but Taylor then found his gear and won the next two legs before a 12-darter sealed the set.

The 16-time champion then took the next five legs to put him on the brink but Szabo claimed two of his own before a visibly relieved Taylor eventually closed out to seal a 3-1 win.

“My head was gone,” Taylor admitted on Sky Sports 1.

“My head was gone with him anyway, he was playing darts I’ve never seen before in my career. He’d got me.”

But the 53-year-old was quick to add that he never feared he was going to lose the match despite being pushed so far out of his comfort zone.

“I think if he’d have gone two sets up I’d have still dug in,” he added.

“I didn’t think I was there to get beaten, obviously, but he was very difficult to beat.

“He did your head in because he was unorthodox. He’s not your normal standard dart player that we’re used to.”

Earlier, John Part had survived a tremendous fightback from Mareno Michels in the opening match of the tournament.

Part raced into a two-set lead and was two legs up in the third with the darts in hand.

But he lost the next three to surrender the set and then lost the fourth to take it to a decider.

The Canadian looked to be on the ropes but he regained his composure to take the fifth set and move through to the second round.

Peter Wright made it through in far more convincing fashion as he beat Joe Cullen 3-0.

The 43-year-old Scot never looked in trouble as he claimed legs of 3-2, 3-2 and 3-1 to condemn Cullen to a first-round defeat for the fourth year in a row.

In the final match of the night Richie Burnett beat Dean Winstanley by three sets to one.

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