PHIL Taylor is anticipating a Battle Royal when he begins his bid for a 13th Betfair World Matchplay title against Mervyn King on July 23.
Taylor, the reigning champion of the Blackpool tournament, is bidding to win a record-equalling fifth successive World Matchplay title and extend his own incredible run of success in the £400,000 tournament later this month.
The number one seed will open in Blackpool against Mervyn King on Monday July 23, with the Norfolk thrower having returned to form by qualifying through the ProTour Order of Merit for the World Matchplay, after dropping out of the world’s top 16 this year.
Taylor and King have enjoyed a string of tussles on the big stage over the past five years, including the latter's win in the 2009 Premier League Darts semi-finals and a 17-6 victory for Taylor in the World Matchplay later that summer.
“It’s a fantastic draw,” said Taylor. “It’s always a big challenge playing Mervyn because he's a great competitor who does everything right to prepare himself, and he's coming back into form this year.
“We’ve had some great battles in the past and I’m sure that this will be another one.
“It’s good for me too, because I know going to Blackpool that I’ve got to perform from the start if I’m going to keep hold of this title.
“In the past you might have been able to ease your way into an event but that’s not the case now because the standard’s so high, especially in this event, so I’ll be practising hard over the next ten days or so before I get to Blackpool.”
The Betfair World Matchplay will commence on Saturday July 21, with the four first round games taking place on that evening including World Champion Adrian Lewis’ clash with last month’s Speedy Services UK Open winner Robert Thornton.
The second round is split across Wednesday and Thursday, with the quarter-finals held in two sessions on Friday July 27, to be followed by Saturday's semi-finals and the final on Sunday night at the Winter Gardens.
Tickets are still available by calling the Winter Gardens Box Office on 0844 856 1111 or by visiting www.blackpoollive.com.