Fifteen-time BetVictor World Matchplay champion, Phil Taylor, has set up a second-round clash with old rival, Raymond van Barneveld, in what is likely to be his last appearance in the competition as his planned retirement nears.
Taylor come through a tricky first-round match against Gerwyn Price, eventually emerging as a 10-5 winner, despite being level five-each after the first ten legs.
After the match, Taylor said, "Gerwyn's a difficult player to beat. I like him and I want him to carry on because you need players like him, he looks great and he's got character."
Returning to Winter Gardens; the venue of so many great triumphs during Taylor's illustrious career, 'The Power' admitted, "I felt fine until I got here but then I did an interview with Sky and it got me thinking, and I was nervous. I'd love to win this week, of course, and I'll be giving it my best shot but I'm going to go up there and enjoy it too and that makes you more dangerous when you're relaxed. I'll get better as each round goes and I can have a day off now and then get ready for the second round."
Second-round opponent, van Barneveld, overcome a scare in round one. The Dutchman trailed 2-1 and almost squandered an 8-3 lead before finally defeating youngster, Joe Cullen, 10-8.
After the match, 'Barnie' said, "The first round is always tough and you know what you have to do. I know how well Joe [Cullen] can play and I'm very happy to win this. Being 8-3 doesn't mean you're going to win the game, and Joe played out of his skin in the last few legs."
Van Barneveld added, "Now I can focus on Phil because I wasn't looking that far ahead after the draw came out because I've been pretty vulnerable World Matchplay so I had to make sure I won my first game. Phil's been the greatest player in the world for the last two decades. I'm going to work hard for the next two days to prepare for it because Phil never plays badly against me, but I'm better when I know what I have to do."
Monday's First Round Fixtures:
Simon Whitlock vs Kyle Anderson
Adrian Lewis vs Steve Beaton
Michael van Gerwen vs Stephen Bunting
Ian White vs Rob Cross
Outright BetVictor World Matchplay Odds:
Michael van Gerwen - 8/11
Gary Anderson - 7/2
Peter Wright - 5/1
Phil Taylor - 16/1
Dave Chisnall - 25/1
Raymond van Barneveld - 25/1