The fear factor that regularly hampers Phil Taylor’s opponents could scupper Michael van Gerwen’s hopes of winning the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship, according to journalist Dan Dawson.
The duo are set to meet on New Year’s Day in a final that pits the best player in the sport’s history against man-of-the-moment Van Gerwen, who ruthlessly ousted defending champion Adrian Lewis and James Wade in the quarter-finals and semis respectively.
Van Gerwen is evens to win on Tuesday night and deserves all the plaudits for his performances so far at Alexandra Palace, especially against third seed Wade when came agonisingly close to successive nine-dart finishes.
Taylor beat Raymond van Barneveld 6-4 to reach the final and has labelled 23-year-old Van Gerwen as an “exceptional” talent, but Dawson is unsure whether the Dutchman has the mental fortitude needed to get the better of the 15-time world champion.
“You’ve got to say that Michael van Gerwen has been throwing the best darts in the tournament, and his scoring power has been unbelievable,” Dawson told Ladbrokes.
“However, we’ve also seen against James Wade that he will give you some chances because of his doubling.
“The only flaw in Michael’s game is that when he has three darts in his hand. He’ll miss a double, and that leaves you big chances. Ok, you might have to take out ton-plus checkouts like Adrian Lewis did in the quarter-finals, and James Wade did it against him.
“At crucial times, Adrian could have beaten him. James Wade pushed him a lot closer than people expected.
“Phil Taylor will get chances against Michael, but it’s whether he takes them that’s important.
“Phil had a 5-1 lead against Raymond van Barneveld and just snuffed out some of Barney’s comebacks until the latter stages of the game.
“Barney said he wasn’t afraid of taking on Phil Taylor, but he played like he was fighting Freddy Krueger up there at some points! Phil Taylor will do that to you.
“Michael van Gerwen has won the World Grand Prix, and came unstuck slightly in the final of the Grand Slam of Darts against Barney.
“This Ladbrokes World Darts Championship Final stage is the biggest one there is, and playing the greatest ever, even if you’re the greatest right now, there’s still a mental barrier that I’m not quite sure Michael has crossed yet.”
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