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Auckland Darts Masters: Can Taylor stay undefeated Down Under?

If you thought that Phil Taylor was slowing down at the grand age of 55 on the oche, having yet to win a major event all year, then think again. The 16-time world champion has proved doubters wrong once more, this time by staying undefeated in World Series events Down Under since its inception in 2013.

Taylor has claimed the first two titles in Australia’s Perth and Sydney (which Coral sponsored), and now attempts to win the first in New Zealand, as the darting elite and eight Oceanic qualifiers battle it out in the Auckland Masters.

Only The Power and Michael van Gerwen (joint-favourites at 15/8) have won World Series competitions, so can anyone else break that run? Here is Coral’s preview of the first round of fixtures…

Adrian Lewis v David Platt

Lewis

Jackpot managed to reach the final in the recent Coral Sydney Masters, so is temptingly priced at 12/1 to go all the way this time.

However, he was thrashed 11-3 by Taylor and could face him in the semis this time if he gets past both compatriot Platt and then most likely Gary Anderson.

Peter Wright v Mark Cleaver

Wright

Snakebite (14/1 title chance) has also been a finalist in Masters events this year, having lost out to Taylor too in Japan.

The Scot should be able to see off big-stage debutant Kiwi Cleaver, and could face James Wade, who he lost to in the quarters in Perth, next.

James Wade v Paul Nicholson

Darts - Ladbrokes.com World Championships - Quarter Finals - Alexandra Palace

This is the first of the big first round battles, as established PDC player Nicholson attempts to get past recent World Matchplay and Perth runner-up Wade.

But The Machine (11/1 tournament fourth-favourite) has a 7-1 career record over English-born Aussie The Asset (200/1) and is having a terrific year so is unlikely to be upset here.

Phil Taylor v Craig Caldwell

16-time World Champion Phil Taylor.

16-time World Champion Phil Taylor.

Undefeated in the first five Australian World Series events, Taylor now attempts to conquer more of Oceania as he takes to the oche for Auckland’s inaugural big competition.

The Power kicks off his campaign against home hope Caldwell, who he smashed 6-1 in Perth earlier this month.

Raymond van Barneveld v Laurence Ryder

Van Barneveld celebration

Like Taylor, you can never write Barney off. The Dutch giant has had a bad summer by his standards but has gradually gained momentum Down Under and toppled compatriot 8-4 Van Gerwen in Sydney to exact revenge on him after losing by the same scoreline in Perth.

English-born Australian Loz Ryder is no walkover, having qualified for the 2014 World Championship, but will be no match for Van Barneveld (20/1 title shout), even if the Dutchman is not at his best.

Stephen Bunting v Simon Whitlock

Simon Whitlock

This duel could provide the first shock of the draw, with 2014 BDO world champion Bunting still adjusting to life amongst the big names in the PDC.

Australia’s finest Whitlock (50/1) has won numerous titles Down Under, so is a great shout to knock out Bunting (33/1) at the first stage after The Bullet was shocked by another Aussie, Kyle Anderson, in Perth.

Michael van Gerwen v Rob Szabo

van gerwen 2

Mighty Mike will be disappointed with his efforts in Australia since winning his first World Matchplay, having suffered earlier exits than he would have liked in Perth (semis) and Sydney (quarters), so will be hoping to have a fresh start in New Zealand.

Van Gerwen will not have enjoyed being drawn with Kiwi number one and 2010 New Zealand National Championship winner Szabo, but has enough quality to come through it and possibly face Barney again next.

Gary Anderson v Rob Modra

Anderson

World and Premier League champion Anderson has also had a quiet time in Oceania, also exiting at the same stages as Van Gerwen in the same competitions, but is still the 6/1 title third-favourite.

Aussie Modra stands in The Flying Scotsman’s way in the first round, before a potential rematch with Lewis, as the two have had two 8-7 epics this month Down Under, with Jackpot winning the most recent in Sydney.