• European Championship

Taylor motivated by Lewis challenge

ESPN staff
September 19, 2012 « Bisping commands the respect of Jon Jones | Chartbeat test »
Phil Taylor is bidding for more glory in Germany © Getty Images
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The PartyPoker.net European Championship will be held from September 20-23 at the RWE Sporthalle in Muelheim, Germany and screened live on ESPN. Click here for details on how to subscribe to ESPN

Phil Taylor has dominated the PartyPoker.net European Championship since its inception in 2008, winning the title in each of the four years since.

Here, 'The Power' looks back on his success in the tournament and on his plans to remain at the top level until his proposed retirement in three years time when he reaches 55.

You've got an amazing record in the European Championship - can you make it five years in a row?

PT: "I'll be ready for it and I'll be trying my best but I've not played in a tournament for a couple of months so it's going to be interesting.

"I've had a great run in it. To win the tournament four years on the trot and it will be even better if I can make it five. The crowds are fantastic and the atmosphere's brilliant in Germany, as always."

The World Championship last Christmas saw you lose in the second round to Dave Chisnall, but you must be delighted with your response since to win the World Cup, Premier League and World Matchplay?

PT: "I've had a good year. I could have won four or five tournaments on the trot but I lost in the final of the UK Open in Bolton to Robert Thornton.

"I won the Premier League and that's a massive tournament. It's a marathon rather than a sprint because it's over four months, and the World Matchplay was special because it was my 13th time and fifth in a row.

"The World Championship was disappointing for me though. Sometimes I perform brilliantly in it and sometimes and I don't - maybe it's the time of year or me getting old, and maybe I was trying too hard because I really, really want to be World Champion again."

Do you feel pressure going into matches as the world number one and 15-time World Champion?

PT: "I think all the pressure's on the other player and they have to go up there and perform. If I play as I can play then it's very difficult for them because I can do 115-120 averages, and that's what I'm trying to achieve.

"You need to put in a lot of dedication and commitment, and there are things like having early nights and getting fitter and healthy too - you've got to have the full package now.

"It's easy to get to number one in the world, but it's different staying there for a long period of time and being consistent.

"I do feel proud that I'm 52 and still competing and up there with the best in the world. It doesn't happen in any other sport really, I don't think there's any other sport where someone my age would be world number one or contesting to be World Champion again.

"If I'm in a tournament I want to win it, I don't want to be there to make the names up. I want to be on the top of the three, I don't want to be second best to anyone.

"I still enjoy it - I love every part of the game because there's nothing like being up on stage. I think the day I started darts was the last time I did a day's work because even though it's hard I love it.

"It's not like lifting bricks up a ladder or plastering walls, but it's been very kind to me and I've loved every minute of it."

Since you won your first World Championship in 1990 you've played against every top player - from John Lowe and Eric Bristow to John Part, Raymond van Barneveld and now Adrian Lewis. Who would you rank as the hardest to play against?

PT: "John Lowe was great when he was on form, Jocky Wilson was very tough to beat, Dennis Priestley was very good and Raymond van Barneveld has been for a lot of years too.

"Now, Adrian Lewis and Gary Anderson can score so highly and are very difficult when they're on song.

"But Jocky was probably one of the hardest people to beat, because you never knew what he was going to do - he'd go 26, 45, 180, 180! It was unusual playing him.

"The game's changed now from the times of Eric Bristow and Jocky Wilson and it's a whole package now - practising at the right time, training at the right time and resting at the right time. It's a totally professional game now."

Adrian Lewis is the reigning World Champion and he's chasing you to try and take over as world No. 1. Do you enjoy the challenge?

PT: "Adrian's young and he's hungry - he wants to be ranked No. 1 in the world, he wants to be World Champion and he wants to win everything. I was the same at that age and it will come for him, but that's exciting.

"You need somebody who's there pushing you, making you want to get up in the morning and practice and better yourself, and that's what Adrian does.

"There are a few players who motivate me, but he's top of the tree at the minute - I'd rather be World Champion than world No. 1 and he's got that title."

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