• PDC World Championship

Taylor delighted to get past "strange" first hurdle

Rob Bartlett at Alexandra Palace
December 14, 2013
Phil Taylor did not like playing against an unorthodox Rob Szabo © PA Photos

Phil Taylor admitted his nervy PDC World Championship first round win over Rob Szabo was a "strange game", and that even the likes of Adrian Lewis and Michael van Gerwen would have struggled against the qualifier.

Taylor was stunned in the first set by the New Zealander when they met on Friday, but recovered to take a 3-1 victory at Alexandra Palace and book his place in the second round.

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Szabo had already appeared on stage that evening - his first ever televised appearance playing darts - in a preliminary match with Ian Moss, and Taylor hinted that may have aided his opponent's mindset.

"When you've got a qualifier you can't prepare," Taylor told ESPN. "You'd rather play Peter Wright or Richie Burnett or Steve Beaton, because you know what you're up against. When you've got a qualifier, they've been up on stage first and they've got rid of their nerves and then you're going up against him. It shouldn't be [like that] really.

"Michael van Gerwen, Adrian Lewis, James Wade - they would have all struggled against him. He is a good player and he put the pressure on me."

Former world champion Steve Beaton noted Taylor's refusal to consider losing on stage as a huge asset in his mental preparations, but the 16-time world titlist was simply pleased to come through a "strange game."

"All the pros can go back and say 'Phil Taylor can do this'. Every pro would have struggled with him tonight. He was a good player and he was a very unpredictable player," Taylor said.

"Against him, he just did everything wrong and everything right - it was weird. He wanted 138 and went for 139. He missed the treble 20, he bounced off the treble 20 and it was like 'what are you doing?' Then he goes and hits a double 19 out. It was a strange game.

"I wouldn't say I learn every day but I learned something tonight. To expect the unexpected, because that's what you get."

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