- Premier League
Van Gerwen whitewashes stunned Taylor
World champion Michael van Gerwen sealed an incredible 7-0 whitewash over Phil Taylor on the opening night of the Premier League at the Echo Arena.
Van Gerwen started as he meant to go on by taking the first leg against the darts on double 18 as 16-time world champion Taylor made a slow start with his new darts. It was 2-0 to Van Gerwen when he took out 121 on the bull. Van Gerwen then broke again to move three legs clear.
Taylor, a six-time Premier League winner, hit three 140s in the fourth leg but missed two darts at double 12, with Van Gerwen landing a 14-darter on double eight.
A third break of throw followed as Taylor reeled, Van Gerwen hitting double 16 to take out 81. Taylor opened the next leg with a 180 but Van Gerwen hit tops for 6-0. Van Gerwen then started the final leg in kind with a 180 himself, and went on to inflict a first ever Premier League whitewash on Taylor.
"All the pressure was on my shoulders," Van Gerwen told Sky Sports after the match. "I was favourite which makes it more difficult for me, but I played so well. To beat Phil 7-0… He didn't play his top game, but I played really well.
"When he picks up a new set of darts he always needs a couple of weeks to get used to it. But it's not about him, I won the game.
"I know he's No.2, and I'm No.1, but he won 16 world titles. I don't think someone is ever going to win as many as he did. That makes him special. He's a great winner, and he'll be back next week."
It was only the fourth whitewash in Premier League history. And that number nearly became five in the match that followed to close the night, as Adrian Lewis stormed to a 6-0 lead over Simon Whitlock. However Whitlock saved face by finally getting off the mark after taking out 61 on double 18. Though it didn't stop Lewis for long - Whitlock missed darts at double top and ten to stay in the match, and Lewis landed tops to seal a 7-1 win.
"Since I lost to MVG [Van Gerwen] in the world semi finals, I haven't come off the practice board," said Lewis. "I missed a hell of a lot of doubles. You've got to admit he was the better player on the night.
"It's a new season, a new me. Forget about everything else that's going on. I was annoyed I didn't get the whitewash tonight."
Lewis faces Taylor next week - and insists The Power is far from finished despite his performance against Van Gerwen. "I was in the practice room with Phil tonight and he said it was going to take a few weeks," Lewis added. "I'll be ready for him and he'll be ready for me. Believe me, Phil's not finished. Everybody keeps writing him off year in, year out."
Earlier, Raymond van Barneveld eased to an emphatic 7-2 win against Gary Anderson with an average of 108.52. It took Anderson four attempts to win his first leg, before Van Barneveld pulled away to 6-1. Anderson missed the bull to finish 126, and Van Barneveld hit double ten for the win.
Newcomer Peter Wright, who fell to Van Gerwen in the World Championship final, enjoyed a comfortable 7-3 victory against Wes Newton. Wright stormed into a 3-0 lead before Newton fought back to 4-3. However Wright finished 75 on double 12 to break, then opened the next leg with a 180 and hit double 12 to ensure at least a point. Newton then missed four darts to stay in the game, as Wright hit tops to seal a debut victory.
Dave Chisnall kicked off the evening with a 7-5 win over Robert Thornton on his Premier League debut. Thornton made the tournament's first 180 of the season, but Chisnall finished 64 in two darts on double eight to take the opening leg. The match went to 6-5 before Chisnall landed double ten to claim victory.