Phil Taylor warned his rivals he is not ready to be usurped as the dominant force in darts with an awesome 7-0 whitewash of old foe Peter Manley in the final of the Ladbrokes.com World Championship.
The potential successors to ‘The Power’ have been queuing up in recent times with Colin Lloyd, Wayne Mardle and even his own protégé Adrian Lewis showing they are closing the gap to the greatest player in history.
But the performance the 45-year-old from Stoke produced to capture the sport’s biggest prize for the 13th time indicated he will not be relinquishing his crown in the near future.
In achieving a massive three-dart average of 106, Taylor was at his absolute peak and never gave any sort of chance to Manley, whose own form at Purfleet’s Circus Tavern had been impressive in the build-up to the £100,000 (€146,000) showdown.
“It’s unbelievable to have come through a field of 64 of the best players I’ve seen for a long time,” said Taylor, who has been beaten only four times since he started contesting World Championships in 1990.
“To reach the final was breathtaking and to beat Peter Manley was hard work because he’s a quality player.
“I had to set my stall out because I saw him practising before the match and he was scoring and finishing brilliantly. He blew away the field on his side of the draw and I had to treat him with the utmost respect.
“I wasn’t 100% sure I would win because I was worried about Peter. But I just kept concentrating and telling myself to keep solid.”
Manley, who had knocked out rising star Lewis in the quarter-finals when accused of distracting his opponent, thought he had left his best darts behind.
“I think I peaked too early,” said the 43-year-old Carlisle-based professional. “I’m chuffed to bits to be runner-up in the World Championship though.
“The difference is that Phil can show his class time after time whereas I do it occasionally. It was like walking into a brick wall.”
Taylor had been taken to a deciding set by Mardle in the semi-finals, after which he looked drained, but reappeared as fresh as a daisy.
Mardle was still disappointed to have let that match slip from his grasp having led 5-4 before losing 6-5, yet gained confidence from having taken his nemesis all the way.
“Phil was Phil in the final, although I was slightly disappointed with Peter,” said the 32-year-old from Dagenham.
“Peter performed, but not the way he would have wanted to. If you let Phil get on top you’ve had it.
“Phil works differently to the rest of the world – his mindset is off this planet. He can have a hard match like the one he had against me and then come out and play unbelievably well.
“If you can hit him constantly with 140s and 180s and shots he doesn’t expect you to hit you can beat him. I believe that now, whereas I didn’t last year.”
At the start of the £500,000 (€730,000) event world number one Lloyd was considered the main danger to Taylor, but slipped to a shock first-round defeat against qualifier Gary Welding.
And Lloyd could only watch in admiration as Taylor lifted his World Championship record to new heights.
“Phil was back to doing what Phil does,” said Lloyd. “He doesn’t have two bad nights on the spin. He did some seriously bad damage to Peter – he played absolutely brilliantly.”