Phil Taylor claimed he was coming down with a cold but looked in red-hot form as he demolished Andy Hamilton 5-0 to reach the semi-finals of the PDC World Championships at Alexandra Palace.
The 15-time world champion lost only two legs in a thoroughly one-sided encounter, taking advantage of early mistakes from Hamilton and then blowing away an opponent under pressure of his own making.
Asked how he felt following such a dominant win, Taylor told Sky Sports 1: “Shattered. I’m ready for bed. I’m a bit under the weather, I’ve got a cold coming on.”
And as straightforward as he had made it look, Taylor denied having an easy night.
“I didn’t think it was easy,” he said. “He just kept missing doubles. It’s all about finishing and Andy just kept letting me in.”
Taylor took the opening leg with ease, but Hamilton then blew chances to take the second and third, missing two doubles in the third before Taylor hit double top to go one set up.
After Taylor won the opening two sets without dropping a leg, Hamilton won the opener in the third set, but Taylor’s response was emphatic as he came from behind with a 78 checkout to tie it up and then – after Hamilton missed a double to win the third leg – Taylor hit double top to go 2-1 up.
Taylor took the fourth set without dropping a leg and although Hamilton won the opener in the fifth, it was only a temporary reprieve as Taylor closed it out, having averaged 101.38 and hit 56% of his doubles compared to just 18% for Hamilton.
“I’ve been taught a lesson by the master,” Hamilton said. “That’s how it’s supposed to be. I’ve missed doubles and paid for them.
“But I’ve got to the quarter-finals so its onwards and upwards.”
Raymond van Barneveld romped into the semi-finals with a 5-1 win over Simon Whitlock.
Although Whitlock put up more of a fight than the result might suggest, Van Barneveld always had an answer as he wore down the Australian by averaging 102.32.
“Simon fought for a long, long time,” Van Barneveld said. “We battled through many matches. When I knew I was going to play Simon I thought it would be 5-4 or 5-3 – he has a very good record against me.
“But I’m a different Van Barneveld from a couple of months ago. I started believing in myself. I thought, ’Hey, you have a good life, so just play.’
“And that’s what I did.”
Van Barneveld dominated the opening sets, leading from the front as he took the first two sets comfortably.
Whitlock found his rhythm in the third set but was still lucky to win it as he missed four doubles in quick succession before eventually pulling it back to 2-1.
The Australian started the fourth set strongly too but Van Barneveld soon came back at him and hit the bullseye to snatch a 3-1 lead.
Whitlock continued to battle and the fifth set went to 2-2, but when Whitlock faltered Van Barneveld took advantage, and the big Dutchman showed real emotion after hitting double four to go 4-1 up.
“Over the last couple of years I’ve been missing so many doubles so it means so much to me that the last dart went in to win that set,” he said.
“If I didn’t win that set it’s 3-2, but instead at 4-1 you’re hurting your opponent so I was emotional there because I’ve put so much time and effort in.”
Whitlock was still throwing strongly in the fifth set, but the game was up and Van Barneveld closed it out 3-0.
“I threw everything at Raymond but it was not good enough,” Whitlock said.
“He was absolutely brilliant. He took out big shots when he had to, he won important legs when he had to. I’m walking away with a smile on my face because I couldn’t do much better.”
Van Barneveld had claimed he would rather face Taylor than Hamilton in the semi-final, saying: “I want to play the best players. I don’t fear them.”
But that brought a wry smile from Taylor following his own victory.
“Why say it then?” he said. “I think he does.”