Final slot for Taylor
PHIL TAYLOR was keen to play down his on-stage confrontation with Raymond van Barneveld after beating the Dutchman 6-4 last night to set up a mouthwatering Ladbrokes World Championship final against Michael van Gerwen.
Taylor and Van Barneveld appeared to exchange angry words after shaking hands at the end of the match, but the 15-time world champion insisted soon after that the matter was forgotten.
"Nothing went on," he said. "None of us wanted to lose that. He was brilliant there. He stuck in there.
"I said to Raymond backstage, 'there's nobody in this room who's a bigger fan of you than I am'. We're not going to fall out about anything. It's forgotten. It's done."
Van Gerwen earlier went agonisingly close to historic back-to-back nine-dart finishes in his 6-4 semi-final win over James Wade.
The second last-four encounter looked to be turning into a damp squib as Taylor cruised to a 5-1 lead.
'The Power' missed two darts at double 20 to win the contest 6-1 and that gave Van Barneveld a route back into the match.
The Dutchman responded by taking the next three sets to bring the scores back to 5-4 as Taylor's aim deserted him.
But, needing 68 to finish in the fourth leg and wrap up the victory, Taylor took advantage of a missed dart by Van Barneveld to wrap things up with a double 16.
Taylor will return to Alexandra Palace tomorrow to take on Van Gerwen - a player he describes as "phenomenal".
"Michael is extraordinary," he added.
"I've never seen a dart player like him in my career. Even when I'm at my best... he's probably better than I am at my best. He's phenomenal."
Van Gerwen was leading three sets to one but trailing 2-0 in the fifth set when he produced a perfect leg, matching the achievement of Dean Winstanley earlier in the tournament.
The Dutchman hit a maximum 180, 177 and then finished 144 on double 12 to send the crowd wild.
And the fans were still on their feet moments later when the speedy right-hander hit two more maximums to start the next leg and narrowly missed double 12 for a checkout on 141.
Remarkably, Van Gerwen did not even win the set, with Englishman Wade holding his nerve to win the fifth leg and reduce his deficit.
The left-hander won the next set as well to make it 3-3, but Van Gerwen regained his composure to open up a 5-3 lead and looked set to seal the win when he needed 52 to win the ninth set.
However, he hit single five instead of 12 and ended up missing his only dart at double 20, allowing Wade in to make it 5-4.
Wade was unable to take further advantage, though, Van Gerwen racing through the next set 3-0 to complete a hard-fought victory.
"It was unbelievable," Van Gerwen said. "It was a very difficult game for me because Wade is a very slow player and I had not beaten him on TV, but it was a nice one to win."