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Below-par Lewis stutters to world title No. 2

ESPN staff
January 2, 2012 « Spurs aim to begin the year with a bang | Chartbeat test »
Adrian Lewis was not at his best but did enough to claim his second world title © PA Photos
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Adrian Lewis produced a gritty display to hold off Andy Hamilton and win the World Darts Championship 7-3 at Alexandra Palace, becoming only the third player to retain his world title after winning it for the first time.

Lewis, who beat Gary Anderson in last year's final, was never at his best but he raised his level at the crucial moments to join the greats Eric Bristow and Raymond van Barneveld as the only men to defend their crown after becoming world champion for the first time.

It was not a vintage opening, as both players struggled under the weight of expectation. Hamilton claimed the early nerve-settler but, after the set headed for a fifth leg, Lewis took out 122 - finishing on bullseye - to silence Hamilton, and the crowd.

A first 180 for Lewis - the first maximum of the match - arrived in the second leg of the second set; the Stoke thrower going on to take the leg. Erratic scoring from the reigning champion let Hamilton in and the Hammer showed he was up for the fight by levelling the match.

A nine-darter went begging in the third when the mercurial Lewis missed double 12 but he carried the momentum forward to seal the set and go 2-1 up. Fabulous checkouts of 147 and then 105 saw Hamilton claw back to two sets apiece, only for Lewis to pounce on a missed dart to clinch the fifth set with a 12-darter.

Lewis appeared to suck the life out of his opponent when taking the sixth set, which left Hamilton needing four sets on the spin for glory. However, Hamilton refused to lie down and stayed in the hunt by pegging Lewis back to 4-3. Still not at his best, Lewis somehow pulled away again - finding big scores just when he needed them. Double 11 handed Lewis a two-set advantage and he fought from two legs down to take the next. In the 10th set, Lewis missed two darts for the match but he returned to the oche after Hamilton failed to take out 125, securing back-to-back world titles with double tops.

"It's not quite sunk in yet," Lewis told Sky Sports. "I take everything on the chin and have a busy year ahead. This is [title] number two and I'll have a lot more. The fightback against James Wade last night won me the tournament. I believed in myself."

When asked how many world titles he could win, he said: "At least 10."

Hamilton, who received £100,000 as runner-up, said: "It's been a great week for me. I wanted to win the final so badly but I'm happy to be here. Keep watching me. Next year I'll be back again and hopefully I'll be winning it then."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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