Phil ’The Power’ Taylor surged into the second round of the Paddy Power World Grand Prix with an emphatic 2-0 win over Keith Deller in Dublin tonight.
The world number one suffered a shock defeat against Kevin Painter 12 months ago, but he made sure there would be no repeat with a professional display against Deller.
Taylor won all three legs in the opening set, finishing off with a 56 checkout.
Deller, who reached the quarter-finals of the Stan James World Matchplay in the summer, could not lift his game in the second set and Taylor eased to victory without dropping a leg.
“I’m pleased to get the first round out of the way,” said Taylor.
“I was a little bit nervous, but I’m now looking forward to playing Jack (McKenna) – I think it’s going to be a cracker.
“I think I will get better with each round. It’s going to be difficult for me in this tournament but I’ll get there.”
Irish darts legend McKenna proved earlier tonight that age is no barrier as he celebrated a memorable 2-1 win over fellow veteran Cliff Lazarenko.
The 60-year-old qualifier, who was Paul Lim’s opponent at the 1990 world championship when the ’Singapore Slinger’ produced a nine-dart finish, was roared on by a vociferous crowd at the City West Hotel – and he did not disappoint.
’Big Cliff’ edged the first set by three legs to two but McKenna rolled back the years in the next.
He nailed double 20 to take the opening leg and followed up with a 102 checkout.
Lazarenko, 50, simply had no answer to the Newbridge thrower, who clinched the set with a 60 finish.
Both players shared the first two legs of the deciding set but McKenna held his nerve to win the next two for a superb victory.
A delighted McKenna said afterwards: “It was a brilliant win – but I know I can play better.
“The crowd played their part. I had friends and family in there and it was a great atmosphere.”
In one of the most eagerly awaited matches of the first round, Ronnie Baxter overcame Richie Burnett 2-0.
Baxter, who lost to Taylor in the final of the inaugural Las Vegas Desert Classic in July, never looked in trouble against his Welsh opponent.
After comfortably winning the first set, Baxter won the second by three legs to one and will now meet Kevin Painter in round two.
Painter impressed once again in the Irish capital earlier this evening with a 2-0 success over Dennis Priestley.
Victory over Phil Taylor 12 months ago may have raised Painter’s profile, but the Cambridgeshire thrower is determined to make a name for himself by winning tournaments.
He said: “Beating Phil (Taylor) was great but you can’t just live on that - you’ve got to go on and do things.
“Dublin is always difficult with the double start format, but obviously I’m pleased to get through.”
Denis Ovens’ tournament came to a premature end when he slipped to a 2-1 defeat against Dave Smith.
But former world number one Rod Harrington proved too strong for Northern Ireland’s Paul Dillon in their clash.
’The Prince of Style’, who has struggled with his form in recent years, clinched a comfortable 2-0 win over the qualifier from Banbridge.
Dillon had plenty of support at the venue but Harrington made a confident start by winning the opening two legs.
Dillon hit back by winning the third leg before Harrington secured the next to win the opening set.
Harrington never really had to move out of third gear in the second set and closed out the match with double eight.
“I was very nervous because I have not been playing well lately,” said the Essex thrower. “It is a relief (to win) and I can’t believe I’m saying that after what I’ve won in the game.
“But I hit a few doubles at crucial times, and now I don’t particularly care what happens because I can relax.
“I’m happy that I won but I know I need to play a lot better.”
The talented Peter Evison progressed to the second round with a 2-0 win over Lancashire’s Les Fitton.
Evison, who narrowly missed a nine-dart finish at this year’s world championship in Purfleet, held his nerve to win the opening set by three legs to two.
Fitton, known as ’The Natural’, produced a superb 141 checkout in the second set but Evison finished with double 10 to secure victory.