Phil Taylor eyes 17th title as PDC World Darts Championship arrives at Alexandra Palace

Defending Ladbrokes PDC world champion Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor begins his quest for an unprecedented 17th title when this year’s tournament gets under way tomorrow (Friday) at Alexandra Palace.

The 53-year-old from Stoke plays the winner of the preliminary round tie between New Zealand’s Rob Szabo and qualifier Ian Moss – which will be played earlier on the opening night.

One of the major challengers for Taylor’s crown, world number two and last year’s runner-up Michael van Gerwen, will also play a preliminary round winner on Tuesday as he faces either Zoran Lerchbacher or Ben Ward.

The in-form Dutchman has already beaten Taylor in two major PDC finals – the McCoy’s Premier League and Cash Converters Players Championship Finals three weeks ago, when he recovered from 6-3 down to triumph 11-7.

Taylor’s fellow Stokie Adrian Lewis will be looking to ‘jackpot’ his way to a third world title when he opens his account on Wednesday against veteran Dennis Smith.


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The first round also pits fourth-seeded Australian Simon Whitlock, the 2010 finalist, against Ross Smith, while five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld plays Jamie Lewis, and Jelle Klaasen faces Jamie Caven.

Three former finalists dominate Saturday’s proceedings, with Scotland’s Gary Anderson, who lost to Lewis in 2011, playing the 2005 runner-up Mark Dudbridge.

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On the same night, number five seed Andy Hamilton, who was also a beaten finalist against Lewis, meets one of the preliminary round survivors, either Julio Barbero or Andree Welge.

As well as Taylor, the opening night also features Canada’s three-time world champion John Part against Dutchman Mareno Michels, while 1995 BDO champion Richie Burnett clashes with Dean Winstanley.

The £1m tournament runs until January 1 and a limited number of tickets for some sessions are still available. Call 0844 871 8807 or visit http://pdc.seetickets.com.

Meanwhile, snooker’s most prestigious invitation tournament, the Masters, will also take place at Ally Pally in the new year, running from January 12 to 19, as the top 16 seeds battle it out for a top prize of £200,000 and the famous trophy.

The draw for the opening round was made on Sunday and world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan will face debutant Robert Milkins.

Defending champion Mark Selby will meet Mark Davis while world number one Neil Robertson takes on Mark Allen. The schedule of play is yet to be announced.

Tickets start at £10 and fans are advised to book fast as many sessions are selling out. Call 0871 620 7052 (calls cost 10p per minute plus network extras) or go to www.worldsnooker.com/tickets.

VIP and corporate hospitality packages are also available, including lunch, sparkling wine, a photo with the Masters trophy and prime view seating. For full details see www.worldsnooker.com/tickets.

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