Phil Taylor beats Jamie Lewis to reach 2018 World Darts Championship final
The Power beats unseeded Welshman to book a place in 21st World Championship final where he meets debutant Rob Cross
By Paul Prenderville at Alexandra Palace
Last Updated: 31/12/17 7:55am
Phil Taylor is one win away from a 17th world title after beating Jamie Lewis to reach the World Championship final on New Year's Day at Alexandra Palace.
The Power confirmed at the start of 2017 that this tournament would be his last as a professional and he will have every chance of crowning his career with a remarkable ending, befitting his legendary career following a 6-1 victory on Saturday night.
Lewis, who had become the first man to come through the preliminary round to reach the semi-finals, had hoped to keep his own dream alive, but despite holding his own in all seven sets - he missed too many doubles at crucial times, remarkably he had darts to win four sets having already claimed the opener.
Having seen Lewis, who was not even born when Taylor won the first of his world finals, come from two legs down to take the first set, The Power used his wealth of experience to mop up the next six but it could have been so different.
Lewis missed darts for the second, third, fourth and seventh sets and realistically could have had a 4-0 lead before Taylor ran away with the match to seal a place in World Championship final number 20, having lost just four of his previous 20.
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"I'm just picking up the pieces really," Taylor told Sky Sports Darts after signing the board and handing it over to Lewis as he has done to each of his vanquished opponents at the tournament.
"I took advantage of Jamie's inexperience. I just kept picking him off at the right times. The best thing for me is that I've got a day off tomorrow. I'm going to rest and get ready for the final.
"I would love to have played Adrian Lewis or Raymond van Barneveld in the final. You know what Michael van Gerwen is like - he's like a steamroller."
Saturday's Semi-Final Results
|Jamie Lewis||1-6||Phil Taylor (6)|
|Michael van Gerwen (1)||5-6||Rob Cross (20)|
Taylor was cheered to the oche with perhaps his most spectacular ring walk yet and serenaded throughout.
Spurred on by his reception, The Power roared out of the traps in an opening leg that featured five double 16s, The Power took the first two legs of the contest before Lewis stormed to the next three to take the set and a lead against the leg
Another tight tussle ensued in the second, with Lewis missing a dart at double 13 for a two-set lead, with Taylor waiting on 25, the older man cleaned up with the minimum of fuss to level the contest.
For the third set in succession, the pair went to a decider and Lewis wasted three darts for it - he was duly punished by the Power who pinned double top for a 2-1 lead having hit the very same double in the previous leg for the match's first three-figure check-out
A nervy start to the fourth set saw both players missing chances early on but as proved pivotal throughout, Lewis' missed darts were proving crucial.
A dart at bullseye for a brilliant 167 that would have given him the set went begging, as did another at double 16, allowing Taylor to nip in for a 4-1 lead before the most dominant set of the match took him one away from the match.
There was still time for Lewis to showcase the ability that had got him to the last four, forging a two-leg lead, only for inexperience and Taylor's panache to finish the job.
The Welshman missed another set dart, while Taylor pinned a pair of double 19s for an outrageous finish on his way to the set and his place in the final.
"It's surreal to be honest with you, it's like I'm not even here. It's like winning the lottery for me, I never expected to beat Gary Anderson, and the way Jamie was playing I thought I was going to be 4-0 down. He showed a lot of bottle there," Taylor said.
"It will be massive. And the best thing for me, I've got a day off so I can rest up tomorrow. I'm shattered, two games on the trot under pressure is hard work so I'm thankful for a day off. Thank you for New Year's Eve!
While Taylor's career will have one last dance, Lewis can reflect on a life-changing tournament - rising into the world's top 32 and earning £85,000 for his fortnight's work having won just £18,000 all year.
But Saturday night was Taylor's, and on the first day of 2018, it could still be The Power's year.
The 2018 World Championship from Alexandra Palace reaches its dramatic conclusion on New Year's Day with the final live on Sky Sports Darts, coverage gets underway from 8pm
Keep up to date with the news as the PDC celebrates 25 years on Sky Sports, right through to the final on New Year's Day. Get all the latest at www.skysports.com/darts and join in the conversation @SkySportsDarts- don't forget to use #LoveTheDarts