PDC World Darts Championship: Phil Taylor out in the second round at Alexandra Palace
Last Updated: 21/12/13 8:11am
Michael Smith held his nerve in a dramatic final set to knock reigning champion Phil Taylor out of this year's PDC World Darts Championship.
The Power was sensationally cut before Christmas at Alexandra Palace, the 16-time world champion falling to a 4-3 defeat in the second round to blow the top half of the draw wide open.
"When I broke him in that second set I thought 'I can actually beat him here'."
Well below his usual lofty standards in his opening match against Rob Szabo, Taylor again simply couldn't get going as the current world youth champion won a deciding set 4-2 by taking out 128 with bulls eye.
"My heart is pounding," Smith, who was close to tears on the stage after hitting the winning dart, told Sky Sports.
"When I broke him in that second set I thought 'I can actually beat him here'. I showed I've got fight in me, that I've got the tenacity to keep up with the best players."
Taylor had opened up proceedings with a 156 checkout in the opening leg, going on to land his first three shots at doubles to ease through the first set.
From then on, however, his accuracy disappeared. He let the fourth set slip away when well placed, then surrendered a 3-2 lead by losing three legs in a row.
In the decider he couldn't land four efforts at double seven before Smith won the next in 11 darts. Taylor pegged him back to 2-2, but a 13-darter put the 21-year-old in charge again before he completed one of the biggest shocks in the history of the tournament in sensational fashion.
Raymond van Barneveld was also pushed all the way, the Dutchman coming out on the right end in a deciding set to finally see off the challenge of Jamie Caven.
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'Barney' found himself trailing for the first time after losing the fifth set, one which he had kicked off with a superb 11-dart leg, but rallied impressively from the setback, winning the next in a hurry.
For once Caven's finishing let him down when it mattered the most, two misses at double eight in the second leg allowing the Dutchman to consolidate an early break of throw.
He finally clinched the victory by landing double six, meaning he had won six of the final seven legs just when the pressure was really on to keep alive his bid for a sixth world title.
"He was never, ever missing doubles tonight," said van Barneveld of Caven, who set the tone for a see-saw contest by taking out the first set with a 136 checkout.
"Every chance he had on doubles he hit it with his second or third dart. That is why he was keeping me under pressure. I was saying to myself 'come on Ray, keep going'."
Peter Wright had become the first man through to round three, getting the better of Per Laursen by a 4-2 scoreline in the opening match of the night.
'Snakebite' - who had dyed a Christmas tree into his silver goatee beard to show he's firmly in the festive spirit - found himself 2-1 down to his Danish opponent before going on to win nine of the next 11 legs.