The Power hoping to light up Ally Pally
Phil Taylor is taking a pragmatic approach heading into the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship.
Taylor has won the tournament a staggering 13 times, the last of which came in 2010, and is the 2/1 favourite to add to his record-breaking trophy haul ahead of Michael van Gerwin, Simon Whitlock and defending champion Adrian Lewis.
The 52-year-old is in a relaxed frame of mind and faces a first-round encounter against Michael Mansell at Alexandra Palace on Saturday.
Reflecting on last Tuesday’s draw, Taylor told Ladbrokes: “They are all tough games.
“I don’t really worry about the draw, I’ll be honest with you. But knowing that Michael is a decent player, it’s good for me because it gets my mind set for the first round.
“And nine times out of 10 when I’ve had a tough first-round, I’ve gone on to win the tournament.”
Not that Taylor is getting ahead of himself. Far from it, although he isn’t overly concerned either by his title rivals.
When asked which players he is most wary of, Taylor replied: “None of them.
“None of them at all because I’m not playing the rest of them. The only player I’m interested in is Michael Mansell. That’s it.
“I don’t even know who I could play next if I get through. I’m not interested in who I could play.”
It could be argued that Taylor has a point to prove at the World Darts Championship after a shock second-round exit against Dave Chisnall last year, the first time he had failed to reach at least the quarter-finals.
“I’ve forgotten all about it,” he countered.
“It’s gone. You can never do anything about the past, you can only concentrate on the future. If I get beat, so what? It’s just a game of darts really.”
As the greatest darts player of all time, Taylor knows exactly how to get ready for major tournaments, a factor that ensures he remains a very serious contender despite his dominance in darts eroding in recent years.
He said: “This game is about preparing properly and knowing how to prepare right and knowing how much practise you need and how much dedication is required.
“That’s one thing that I’m quite good at, so you don’t go over the top.
“You can actually practise yourself nervous – and a lot of players do it. They practise on their own, they start speeding up, they start running up and down and then when they get to the board, they can’t hack it because they might be playing in a slow game.
“I’ve seen it happen that many times. All the youngsters think I don’t know what I’m on about, but I do. I’ve been there, done it, seen it, got the t-shirt, sold the t-shirt and got another one!”
Do you think Taylor will be the man to beat at the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship?