TAYLOR SETTING SIGHTS ON KING FOR BETFAIR WORLD MATCHPLAY OPENER
PHIL TAYLOR is anticipating a Battle Royal when he begins his bid for a 13th Betfair World Matchplay title against Mervyn King on July 23.
Taylor, the reigning champion of the Blackpool tournament, is bidding to win a record-equalling fifth successive World Matchplay title and extend his own incredible run of success in the £400,000 tournament later this month.
The number one seed will open in Blackpool against Mervyn King on Monday July 23, with the Norfolk thrower having returned to form by qualifying through the ProTour Order of Merit for the World Matchplay, after dropping out of the world^s top 16 this year.
Taylor and King have enjoyed a string of tussles on the big stage over the past five years, including the latter^s win in the 2009 Premier League Darts semi-finals and a 17-6 victory for Taylor in the World Matchplay later that summer.
"It^s a fantastic draw," said Taylor. "It^s always a big challenge playing Mervyn because he^s a great competitor who does everything right to prepare himself, and he^s coming back into form this year.
"We^ve had some great battles in the past and I^m sure that this will be another one.
"It^s good for me too, because I know going to Blackpool that I^ve got to perform from the start if I^m going to keep hold of this title.
"In the past you might have been able to ease your way into an event but that^s not the case now because the standard^s so high, especially in this event, so I^ll be practising hard over the next ten days or so before I get to Blackpool."
The Betfair World Matchplay will commence on Saturday July 21, with the four first round games taking place on that evening including World Champion Adrian Lewis^ clash with last month^s Speedy Services UK Open winner Robert Thornton.
Five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld plays emerging youngster Michael Smith, two-time World Matchplay finalist Terry Jenkins meets Kim Huybrechts and Paul Nicholson plays Andy Smith in a high-quality opening night.
Sunday^s second evening will feature 2007 champion James Wade, who has reached the final for four of the past six years, up against resurgent Welshman Richie Burnett, who was the 2001 Blackpool runner-up and has kick-started his career in the past two years.
Number six seed Simon Whitlock plays Dutch ace Michael van Gerwen, Players Championship Finals winner Kevin Painter meets Steve Beaton and Mark Walsh faces Colin Osborne in the other Sunday fixtures.
Taylor^s clash on Monday night will be preceded by Andy Hamilton - a semi-finalist last year - taking on Northern Ireland^s Brendan Dolan, with Vincent van der Voort playing Ian White and Mark Webster facing 2005 winner Colin Lloyd.
The first round will conclude on Tuesday July 24 with the final four games, which include local favourites Wes Newton - the number five seed from Fleetwood - and Blackpool^s Ronnie Baxter playing World Youth Champion James Hubbard and rising star Dave Chisnall respectively.
World number four Gary Anderson faces debutant Dean Winstanley, while Justin Pipe takes on another of the emerging young faces, Bradford^s Joe Cullen.
The second round is split across Wednesday and Thursday, with the quarter-finals held in two sessions on Friday July 27, to be followed by Saturday^s semi-finals and the final on Sunday night at the Winter Gardens.
Tickets are still available by calling the Winter Gardens Box Office on 0844 856 1111 or by visiting www.blackpoollive.com.
Betfair World Matchplay Schedule of Play
Saturday July 21
7.10pm Paul Nicholson v Andy Smith
8.00pm Terry Jenkins v Kim Huybrechts
9.00pm Adrian Lewis v Robert Thornton
10.00pm Raymond van Barneveld v Michael Smith
Sunday July 22
7.10pm Mark Walsh v Colin Osborne
8.00pm Kevin Painter v Steve Beaton
9.00pm James Wade v Richie Burnett
10.00pm Simon Whitlock v Michael van Gerwen
Monday July 23
7.10pm Andy Hamilton v Brendan Dolan
8.00pm Vincent van der Voort v Ian White
9.00pm Phil Taylor v Mervyn King
10.00pm Mark Webster v Colin Lloyd
Tuesday July 24
7.10pm Justin Pipe v Joe Cullen
8.00pm Wes Newton v James Hubbard
9.00pm Gary Anderson v Dean Winstanley
10.00pm Dave Chisnall v Ronnie Baxter
Wednesday July 25
7.10pm Whitlock/van Gerwen v Painter/Beaton
8.20pm Wade/Burnett v Walsh/Osborne
9.30pm van Barneveld/M Smith v Jenkins/Huybrechts
10.40pm Lewis/Thornton v Nicholson/A Smith
Thursday July 26
7.10pm Hamilton/Dolan v Webster/Lloyd
8.20pm Newton/Hubbard v Pipe/Cullen
9.30pm Taylor/King v van der Voort/White
10.40pm Anderson/Winstanley v Chisnall/Baxter
Friday July 27
Saturday July 28
Sunday July 29
First Round - Best of 19 legs
Second Round - Best of 25 legs
Quarter-Finals - Best of 31 legs
Semi-Finals - Best of 33 legs
Final - Best of 35 legs
Each game must be won by two clear legs. There will be no tie-break, and the match will continue until one player achieves a two-leg lead.