James Wade produced a brilliant run to his fifth Blackpool final in seven attempts, before eventually being edged out by Phil Taylor in the Betfair World Matchplay on Sunday evening.
‘The Machine’ pushed Taylor hard in a close run affair but was unable to prevent ‘The Power’ from clinching the £100,000 title for the thirteenth time, with the world number one running out an 18-15 winner.
“I have practised hard for weeks but I wasn’t in full flow tonight,” said Wade, who triumphed at The Winter Gardens in 2007.
“Getting 15 legs off Phil in the final is massive but I don’t see coming second as a good week’s work.
“I will continue to work hard and put more into this game though. I’m old enough now to realise that it’s what I’ll have to do to be the best.”
Wade showed some fantastic form throughout the tournament, defeating Richie Burnett and Mark Walsh with apparent ease in the first two rounds.
The world number three saw off the challenge of nine-dart hero Michael van Gerwen in the last eight before sealing victory over Terry Jenkins with six ton-plus finishes to reach the final, where he battled hard but was unable to topple Taylor.
‘The Power’ admitted that it could have been a different story after Wade was denied checkouts of 140 and 144 by the width of the wire in crucial legs.
“James was fantastic and has been all week,” said Taylor
“If those shots had gone in, he would have won.
“That was the nerveiest final I have ever played in.”
By Chris Murphy
JAMES WADE 17 – 15 Terry Jenkins
James Wade secured his fifth final appearance in seven visits to Blackpool’s Winter Gardens with a well earned victory over Terry Jenkins in the semi-finals of the Betfair World Matchplay on Saturday night.
‘The Machine’, who won the tournament in 2007, fired in no less than six three figure checkouts as he dumped out the man that he beat in the final five years ago.
“The Bull” played his part in a real battle in Blackpool but it was Wade who continued his love affair with the prestigious tournament.
“Terry was amazing,” said Wade, who also reached the final in 2006, 2008 & 2011.
“He probably should have won that game but I managed to dig in and get a result.
“The crowd were on his side which made it harder and a lot of the big shots I took out were born out of desperation really.
“I couldn’t get settled tonight and I struggled to concentrate at times but that won’t happen tomorrow.
“I have been putting in the practise and hopefully that will pay off in the final.”
Wade hit four 180’s in the first session but was only rewarded with a solitary leg to his name, with Jenkins going into the break with a 4-1 lead.
‘The Machine’ halved the deficit before Jenkins restored it, but Wade pulled it back to 5-3 with a stunning 164 checkout.
‘The Bull’ made it 6-3 before world number three Wade reeled off six consecutive legs, which included clinical checkouts of 103, 107 & 127.
Jenkins then hit back, taking five legs in a row to go 11-9 in front before ‘The Machine’ produced a sublime 130 checkout to spark another run of consecutive legs, this time taking a quick-fire four, with a sensational 144 finish in amongst the game shots.
Jenkins took the next two to restore parity at 13 apiece before Wade split 26 and then hit double top to move two legs clear.
‘The Bull’ wasn’t finished though and won the next two to leave the match finely poised at 15 all.
But Wade grabbed a crucial break of throw before getting the job done on double six, to move into Sunday evening’s £100,000 final, where he meets Phil Taylor.
By Chris Murphy
JAMES WADE 16 – 13 Michael van Gerwen
James Wade sealed his place in a sixth semi-final in seven visits to Blackpool with a 16-13 triumph over Michael van Gerwen in a high quality encounter in the Betfair World Matchplay.
‘The Machine’, who is chasing his eighth major title, set up a last four clash against Terry Jenkins after being pushed hard by his opponent in a match where neither player’s average dropped below 100 from the off.
“Michael fought hard there,” said Wade, who won the tournament in 2007.
“He’s back to playing some of the best darts he’s ever played but I’ve been practising hard and it is starting to show in patches.
“I’m looking forward to playing Terry tomorrow. I know that we will both just go up there and play darts and may the best man win.”
Wade started the strongest, hitting double ten to take the first leg before breaking with a brilliant 116 checkout in the second, which included his first maximum.
van Gerwen broke straight back before ‘The Machine’ reeled off five consecutive legs in business like fashion, hitting two more maximums along the way.
‘Mighty Mike’ stuck in his first 180 as he pulled it back to 7-3, only for Wade to win the next two legs, holding with a sensational 146 checkout, before another 180 helped him break the Dutchman’s throw once again.
van Gerwen managed to break back, cutting Wade’s lead to 9-4 but the world number three restored his six leg lead with a seventh succesful shot at double ten.
Former World Master van Gerwen grabbed the games’ fourth consecutive break of throw, taking out 25, to leave the second session five legs behind.
The Dutchman, who had hit a nine-darter 48 hours earlier, went off with his fourth 180 in the 16th leg but ‘The Machine’ took out another fabulous shot with 122 on the bull.
van Gerwen took out 24 and then 65 to reduce Wade’s lead to 11-7, despite the 2007 winner hitting his fifth 180.
‘Mighty Mike’ levelled up the maximum count before hitting double 16 to move within three legs of Wade with a break.
The 23-year-old won a fourth leg on the spin, hitting double five before Wade made it 12-9 with a 12 dart leg.
van Gerwen hit double 16 to peg back ‘The Machine’ again, before grabbing a seemingly crucial break of throw with a fantastic 88 outshot on the bull.
Wade ensured he kept daylight between them, taking out 72 to break straight back, before a neat 86 finish put him three legs clear at 14-11.
van Gerwen kept himself in it with a 13 darter, bere Wade’s ninth maximum helped to move him within a leg of victory.
The Dutchman held to keep the pressure on but Wade clinched his place in the semi-finals with a brilliant 71 checkout, finishing on double ten.
By Chris Murphy
Michael van Gerwen wowed the Winter Gardens with a wonderful nine-dart finish in an explosive performance, as he saw off Steve Beaton in Blackpool.
The 23-year-old Dutchman hit six ton plus finishes in a 13-9 triumph to set up a quarter final clash with James Wade, who was impressive in a convincing 13-4 success over Mark Walsh.
“It was a special moment for me,” said van Gerwen, on hitting his second televised nine-darter.
“I have been playing really well on the floor which has given me a lot of confidence and tonight it all came together on TV.
“James is a classy player so I will have to play great again to beat him, but everyone has seen what I can do.”
Wade, who won nine consecutive legs in his triumph over Walsh, said: “I did alright tonight and I’m glad to get through.
“Michael is a confident young lad and I was pleased for him but I’m here to do a job.”
There was disappointment for Raymond van Barneveld however, the Dutchman failed to reach the quarter-finals in Blackpool for the first time ever after suffering defeat at the hands of Terry Jenkins.
By Chris Murphy
Michael van Gerwen hit a sensational nine-dart finish in an incredible performance, which saw him defeat Steve Beaton 13-9 in round two of the Betfair World Matchplay.
The Dutchman powered past his opponent to reach the last eight for the first time at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, hitting six finishes of over 100 in an explosive triumph over the former World Champion.
“I was delighted with my performance,” said van Gerwen.
“Especially as I kicked on well after the nine-darter.
“That was a very special moment for me and I enjoyed playing in such a brilliant match because Steve played very well too.
“I’ve been playing really well recently on the floor, which has given me great confidence and it all came good tonight.”
The first six legs of the match went with the throw, with van Gerwen taking out finishes of 108 and 116.
But it was Beaton who grabbed the game’s first break of throw, taking out 90 before van Gerwen responded with a brilliant 128 out.
Then came the magical moment, with ‘Mighty Mike’ hitting back to back 180s before sealing his spectacular nine dart finish with a 141 checkout.
The 23-year-old followed that up with another briliant checkout, this time 116.
Beaton levelled before the former World Master reeled off four legs in a row to take a 10-6 lead.
‘The Adonis’ took the next two before van Gerwen produced another fantatsic finish, taking out 120 in a leg that included his sixth maximum.
Beaton pulled it back to 11-9 before van Gerwen closed the match out, adding another 180 to end with an average of 104.36 – the highest of the tournament so far.
By Chris Murphy
JAMES HUBBARD will celebrate his 20th birthday by making his Betfair World Matchplay debut on Tuesday night – but opponent Wes Newton is determined that a celebratory cake is the only present he receives from their clash in Blackpool.
World Youth Champion Hubbard will continue his remarkable rise when he steps onto the Winter Gardens stage – having competed in an amateur tournament in Blackpool last summer.
Having turned professional in November, the 19-year-old has soared to stardom and recently qualified to play in the £400,000 World Matchplay.
“It’s a dream for me to be playing in this event,” said Hubbard. “Winning the World Youth Championship was special but I wasn’t a professional when I qualified for the final, so this is the biggest stepping stone of my career.
“It would be very special to win but there’s no pressure on me either because I never expected to qualify for this.
“To beat the world number five on television in his own backyard would be a great achievement, and I’ll be giving it my best shot on Tuesday.”
Former UK Open finalist Newton was a quarter-finalist in last year’s World Matchplay, and enters their clash as the heavy favourite.
However, the number five seed is taking nothing for granted, and admits: “I’ve known James since he was a cheeky kid and it’s great to see him in the World Matchplay.
“He used to play in youth tournaments around PDC events so I’ve seen him grow up, and for him to have qualified shows how far he’s come in such a short space of time.
“He’s got a birthday cake but I don’t want to be giving him any more presents on stage on Tuesday night! I’m there to do a job and I’m looking forward to the game – to be in the second round is the main aim.”
Story and images courtesy of PDC
Mark Webster progressed into the second round of the Betfair World Matchplay with a hard fought victory over Colin Lloyd.
The Welshman hit finishes of 116 and 110 to take crucial legs against the throw, as he completed a 10-6 win against the 2005 champion.
“It wasn’t pretty but I got the job done,” said Webster, who faces Andy Hamilton in the last 16.
“It was a battle but I held it together and I’m very pleased to get the win.
“That could be a big win for me and I’m looking forward another good battle in the next round.”
Mervyn King almost toppled defending champion Phil Taylor but eventually lost out 10-8 to ‘The Power’, who is chasing a 13th Matchplay triumph.
There was also disspointment for Dutchman Vincent van der Voort, who was defeated by an inspired performance from Ian White.
Tuesday evening sees the final four first round matches, with James Hubbard hoping to mark his 20th birthday with victory over Fleetwood’s Wes Newton
By Chris Murphy
James Wade powered his way through to the second round of the Betfair World Matchplay with a comfortable victory over Richie Burnett in Blackpool.
‘The Machine’ brushed aside the challenge of the in form Welshman, triumphing 10-5 with a solid display.
“I was happy with my performance but it wasn’t my best,” admitted Wade, who won the title in 2007.
“Hopefully my best will come but tonight was all getting past Richie, who has been playing really well recently.
“I love the place, the tournament and the format and I can’t wait to play again on Wednesday.”
‘The Machine’, who has reached four finals in six visits to the Winter Gardens, will face Mark Walsh in the second round.
Michael van Gerwen also booked his place in round two.
The 23-year-old Dutchman reeled off five consecutive legs to seal a 10-6 victory over Simon Whitlock.
“I played well but Simon was not on top form,” said ‘Mighty Mike’, who will face Steve Beaton in round two.
“Once I was on fire he couldn’t stop me. I managed to relax and I’m proud of how I played.
“I’m very happy to win this game. It is a massive result for me.”
Monday night sees Mark Webster, Mervyn King and Vincent van der Voort all take to the Blackpool stage.
Webster faces Colin Lloyd, King is up against Phil Taylor and van der Voort plays Ian White.
By Chris Murphy
Raymond van Barneveld began his quest for glory at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens with a convincing victory over Michael Smith.
The popular Dutchman coasted to a 10-4 triumph over the St Helens youngster to set up a tasty second round clash with Terry Jenkins, after the world number ten launched a remarkable comeback to beat Belgian ace Kim Huybrechts.
“Terry and I always have great battles so I am looking forward to playing him,” said van Barneveld, who is enjoying a rich vein of form.
“I won the European tournament in Dusseldorf two weeks ago and I won an event in the Shetlands last week, so I am really pleased with how I am playing.
“The belief is back now and I honestly believe I can win this.”
‘Barney’ will lock horns with ‘The Bull’ on Wednesday evening, as he bids to claim a quarter-final spot.
There was disappointment for Paul Nicholson however, ‘The Asset’ suffered an early exit at the hands of Andy Smith, while UK Open winner Robert Thornton was beaten by World Champion Adrian Lewis.
Tuesday evening sees 2007 winner James Wade return the venue where he has reached four finals.
‘The Machine’ takes on Richie Burnett before Simon Whitlock and Michael van Gerwen go head to head for a place in round two.
By Chris Murphy
James Hubbard admits that qualifying for the Betfair World Matchplay exceeded even his own expectations in is debut season as professional darts player.
But Hubbard, who takes on Fleetwood ace Wes Newton at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens on Tuesday, has an added incentive to make it an extra special occasion.
The Norfolk youngster turns 20 on the day of his first round clash with ‘The Warrior’ and is aiming to make it a night to remember.
“I was delighted when I saw that the PDC had scheduled me in to play on my birthday,” said Hubbard, who is set to reveal his new nickname ahead of Tuesday’s match.
“It will be one that I will always remember, but if i don’t win then it won’t be my greatest birthday ever.
“I’ve just got to remember that I never expected to be in the Matchplay, take any unnecessary pressure off myself and enjoy it.
“If I win then that will be a bonus but I also know that anything can happen in a tournament and that anyone who is in it has the chance to win it. So I will go in with that attitude.
“I’ve never played Wes before but I have known him since I was really young so it will be nice to play him there, although it might be a hostile crowd as he is from the area, which will be a new experience for me.”
Hubbard qualified for the prestigious £400,000 tournament after a remarkable start to his professional career.
After appearing at last year’s Grand Slam of Darts, Hubbard turned professional in January and has enjoyed a string of successes since.
He beat Michael van Gerwen to be crowned as PDC World Youth Champion in front of 10,000 fans at London’s O2 Arena in May.
And Hubbard says that his victory over the enigmatic Dutchman has helped to prepare him for playing on the big stage.
He said: “Winning the youth final was massive for me. Not just in terms of winning the game itself but the way it has prepared me for things to come.
“There was a massive emphasis on that match and it helped me to learn how to play under pressure, which is hopefully showing in my results.”
The 19-year-old has coped well with his rapid rise to relative fame, after taking the title live on Sky Sports.
“My life has changed massively since turning pro and even more so since winning the youth World Championship,” said Hubbard.
“I’ve done a lot better since January than I ever thought I would.
“My first target was to break into the top 80 in the order of merit and qualify for the UK Open.
“I did both those things in the first six months and I should be in the top 64 after the Matchplay and should qualify for the World Championships and maybe even the Grand Prix, so I’ve already surpassed everything that I set out to achieve.
“It’s not just in darts though. Things have changed enormously in other areas of my life. I’m a lot more comfortable financially, more confident and everything is going well.
“I have good people around me, who are helping me keep my feet on the ground and I’m not letting things go to my head.”
Hubbard has been particularly impressive in the European Tour events, where he has claimed notable victories over World Championship winner Adrian Lewis and runner-up Andy Hamilton, before sealing his place in the Matchplay with a good run in Dusseldorf.
“I had said to a few people that I felt I needed to beat one of the very top players and that came against Lewis,” said Hubbard.
“Winning that match just seemed to settle me down for whoever I was playing.
“To beat the World Champion on stage in front of a few thousand people was pretty special and it is an achievement that I am very proud of.
“I was the outsider to qualify for the Matchplay so I didn’t feel like I was under any pressure in Germany.
“I had a good game against Hamilton but I rode my luck against Steve Brown, who missed about six darts to beat me.
“I played really well against Mark Walsh though and it was nice when that winning double went in.
“The German crowd were all on their feet cheering for me. It was a special moment in my life.”
Despite his rise to professional prominence, Hubbard still recognises the importance of the Youth Tour and has claimed victory on three occasions so far in 2012.
“I find the Youth Tour events really help with my form,” said Hubbard, who is ranked second in the Youth Tour order of merit.
“If you’re going through a bad patch it can help you find a bit of form and regain some confidence.
“On the flip-side, if you are playing well then it is another tournament to keep some momentum going.
“I wouldn’t be in the position I am without the Youth Tour and the standard is so good that it is not far off the Pro Tour anyway.”
Hubbard’s fantastic form has forced him to revise his ambitions for the rest of the year, but he is determined not to let the hype affect his future in the sport.
“I want to try and be in the top 50 in the world next year. That is my target.
“I have to stay grounded though and make sure I fulfil my potential because there are plenty of players who don’t.”
He can also rely on the support of world number nine Mark Webster, who sponsors the youngster.
The former World Champion believes that birthday-boy Hubbard will have many happy returns to the big stage whatever happens on Tuesday night.
Webster said: “It is a massive achievement for him to qualify for the second biggest tournament of the year and he definitely has the ability to cause an upset or two.
“He has a huge future in darts.”
By Chris Murphy