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ADRIAN LEWIS retained the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship title with a 7-3 win over Andy Hamilton at Alexandra Palace on Monday night - and came close to hitting a second successive nine-darter in the final!

The Stoke ace had won last year^s title by hitting a perfect leg during a victory over Gary Anderson, and missed double 12 to repeat the feat in a brilliant display against Hamilton.

Lewis, 26, becomes only the third player in the sport^s history to win their first World Championship and retain the crown the following year, matching the achievements of Eric Bristow and Raymond van Barneveld, as he took the £200,000 first prize.

He hit 11 180s and also took out three ton-plus finishes to see off Hamilton, who had performed brilliantly in reaching only his second major final but could not see off his Stoke rival.

"It means the world to me to win the title again," said Lewis. "It hasn^t really sunk in yet but I^m sure it will when I wake up again with the trophy!

"Andy never gave up and landed some superb checkouts himself, but I hit the right finishes at the right times. It was a little bit like my semi-final against James Wade when I was 5-1 - I refused to give in and that^s why I^m standing here once again with the trophy."

The final began with Hamilton missing a chance at double ten for a 90 finish in the opener, although he was allowed to return when Lewis missed double 19 to break.

Lewis took the second and then broke on tops in the third after Hamilton missed two darts at double ten, although the 2007 Grand Slam finalist hit back by landing double eight to win the fourth leg.

Hamilton held advantage of throw in the deciding leg, but Lewis took the set with a fantastic 122 checkout, completed on the bullseye, to establish an early lead.

Hamilton, who defeated Simon Whitlock in the last four by taking the final three sets to come from 5-3 down, secured an early break of throw at the start of set two by hitting double 16.

Lewis hit double top with his first dart to break in the second, before Hamilton took the third leg against the darts, courtesy of an accurate attempt at double eight.

The fourth leg saw Lewis miss a dart at tops for a 117 finish, allowing Hamilton to hit double six to win the set and level the match.

Hamilton won the opening leg of the third set against the darts, before Lewis kicked-off of the second in blistering fashion with back-to-back maximums.

Lewis, then hit another treble 20, followed by treble 19, but his attempt at double 12 for an amazing nine-dart finish was just high of the target - ending of hopes of achieving the feat for the second successive World Championship final.

The 26-year-old won the leg in 11 darts and also took out a 14-darter amongst the next two to win the set 3-1.

Hamilton took the opening two legs of the fourth set, which featured a superb 147 checkout, before Lewis took the third on double top, only for the older man to seal the set in fine fashion with a 105 finish to level the game.

The world number two broke throw at the start of the set five, only for Hamilton to reply with a 15-dart finish to take the second.

Hamilton then hit a 104 finish to take third leg, but a missed dart at double top for the set as Lewis hit the same bed for the fourth leg and then checked out 11 to win the set.

Lewis then won the first leg of set six after Hamilton was off-target with a dart at double 16, but the number 17 seed made no mistake in the second with another 104 checkout.

Lewis hit double top to take the third leg, and landed double 15 at the first time of asking to win the set and move two-sets clear for the first time at 4-2.

Hamilton made a positive start to the seventh set by taking the opening two legs, which included a 13-darter in the first and a break of throw in the second.

Lewis fired his seventh 180 of the match in the third, but a missed dart at double top, to give Hamilton the opportunity to hit the same bed and reduce the gap to 4-3 with another 13-dart finish.

Both players held throw comfortably at the start of set eight, before the third leg saw Hamilton miss a dart at bullseye for a 129 checkout to break.

Lewis returned to hit double ten and followed that by landing double 11 in the next leg to move 5-3 up and restore his two-set advantage.

Hamilton defied a 177 from Lewis to take first leg of set nine on double five, before Lewis took the second, courtesy of a 67 finish.

Both players kicked-off the third leg with 180s before Lewis fired another maximum to raise the crowd^s hopes of a nine-dart finish for a second time in the night.

Those hopes were quashed when Lewis^ seventh attempt at a treble 20 was off-target, and he then missed two darts at doubles to win the leg.

However, Hamilton was unable to capitalise as he missed a dart at double four, and Lewis returned to land the same double and break throw.

Hamilton continued to fight and won the fourth leg with a pressure 74 finish to deny Lewis an opportunity of hitting double 14 for the set.

The deciding leg saw Hamilton miss a dart at the bullseye for the set, and that proved costly as Lewis stepped up to convert a 118 finish to pull further clear at 6-3.

Hamilton converted a 105 finish to make a winning start to the tenth set, and then hit double eight for a 2-0 advantage.

Lewis, though, won the third leg by hitting double ten, before recording an excellent 13-dart finish to take the fourth and move a leg away from the World Championship title.

The deciding leg saw both players hit 180s before Lewis hit scores of 140 and 139 to reach a finish first.

He initially missed two darts at double top, but Hamilton could not land the same double to complete a 125 checkout and Lewis returned to hit the bed to win his second World Championship.

"I^ve put the work in this year and it^s paid off," added Lewis. "I looked a bit dodgy in the first round against Nigel Heydon and in the semis against James Wade, but this has proven why I^m the best in the world at the minute.

"The final was a bit scrappy but I got the job done and it doesn^t matter what the final average was when you^re holding the trophy.

"I was under pressure and people said I^ve had a bad year and written me off, but I got to the Premier League final, the European Championship final and semi-finals in the World Matchplay and Grand Slam and now won this again. I^ve shut the doubters up again!"

Hamilton took home a career-high £100,000 as runner-up and also moves up to seventh in the PDC Order of Merit, said: "I wanted to win so badly tonight and I was trying too hard, and it wasn^t to be in the end.

"Maybe Adrian had more big-game experience and was important, but I^ve learnt a lot about myself during this tournament and I know I will come back a better and stronger player.

"I^m disappointed with my performance in the final but just winning through to this stage is an achievement. It^s a brilliant way to start 2012 and I want to kick on from here now - I want to win a major title."


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