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Frustrated Phil Taylor acknowledges “bitter” behaviour in the closing stages of his career

Taylor battled past Dobey on Friday night (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

Phil Taylor says the fire in his game "has gone" and admits some of his recent criticism towards fellow professionals has been unjustified.

The 16-time World Champion survived a brief scare in the opening salvo of his 29th and final World Championship campaign as he overcame emerging star Chris Dobey 3-1 at Alexandra Palace on Friday.

Taylor watched Dobey squander two darts at doubles to force a deciding set and seized his reprieve to close out a hard-fought triumph.

The 57-year-old ended the contest with a 96.3 average and three 180s and admitted: "There was a lot of pressure on me.

"To get through Chris Dobey... when they keep on about the future of darts, that's your fella I think. 

"I lacked a bit of energy against Chris tonight, I slacked a little bit and it's not me. I'm tired. I never used to be like that before, I could win a tournament and then play another tournament, it's strange. 

"I'm fine. I haven't practised that much for it to be honest with you. I haven't had a lot of time; I've been playing, doing exhibition work and a few charity events and I've loved it, and I've been classing that as my practice.

"I've got a few days off now to get ready for the next one."

Taylor will call time on his illustrious career at the end of this year's World Championship, bringing the curtain down on more than three decades of darting dominance.

He rolled back the years to claim a 16th World Matchplay title in Blackpool July - one of only three televised ranking tournament appearances this season.

The Stoke great has struggled to stifle the recent dominance of rival Michael van Gerwen and believes his inability to consistently produce his best form has led to a decline in desire for further success.

"The fire's gone," he added. "I want to win, I've still got the fire in the belly to win, it's just the old utensils are not working as good as they used to. 

"It's awful, it's killing me. And you know by my interviews, I have been very critical of certain players, sometimes justified maybe sometimes not. 

"I've been a little bit bitter and I'm gutted that I can't play what I can, and that's what's killing me really. 

"I'm really trying so hard and I can't do what I used to do. So I've got to shut up now."

Taylor will face either Justin Pipe, Xiao Chen Zong or Bernie Smith in the Second Round on December 23.


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Frustrated Phil Taylor acknowledges “bitter” behaviour in the closing stages of his career

Phil Taylor says the fire in his game "has gone" and admits some of his recent criticism towards fellow professionals has been unjustified.

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