GARY ANDERSON began the defence of his Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters title with an impressive 10-3 victory over Phil Taylor on Wednesday, as Michael van Gerwen, Peter Wright and Gerwyn Price also picked up wins in Dubai.
The year's opening World Series of Darts event began at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium as the eight players competed in the quarter-finals on the opening night.
Reigning champion Anderson was arguably the night's most impressive performer as he denied Taylor the chance to claim a farewell victory in Dubai in his final year on the circuit.
The two-time World Champion strung together a sequence of six straight legs to open up a 7-1 lead over the Stoke legend, averaging over 104 at the time.
Taylor did manage a single break of throw and looked set to break again in the 11th leg before Anderson took out a key 120 to move within two legs of the victory.
The Scot hit eight maximums and ended Taylor’s hopes of a first title in Dubai in what could be the 16-time World Champion’s last appearance in the desert, as he set up a last four clash with Wright.
“We all want to win, we’re all after the title and you just have to beat everyone.” said Anderson. “It’s always nice to get past the first round and Peter will be tough to beat.
“I’ll do my best and try and win here again but it’s never easy these days, let’s see what happens.”
Anderson’s fellow countryman had earlier booked his place in the semi-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters with an impressive 10-5 victory over Dave Chisnall.
Wright broke the Chisnall throw twice in the opening five legs to steam in to a 4-1 lead.
Despite an 11-dart hold in leg nine, Chisnall never really looked like getting back in to the contest as the UK Open champion averaged 101.57 in moving through to the last four.
“I believe I’ve just beaten the best player in terms of form in the tournament but I know I still need more,” said Wright, the 2014 finalist in Dubai.
"I just want to hit loads of 180’s and play better. I was ok today but tomorrow I will be better."
World Champion Van Gerwen began his quest to claim a fourth Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters title with a 10-5 victory over fellow Dutchman Raymond van Barneveld.
Van Gerwen, who has only been beaten once in Dubai in the previous four years of the event, went in to the first break with a commanding 4-1 lead.
Van Barneveld then produced a moment of magic in the sixth leg taking out a 170 finish to close the gap to two.
The telling moment of the encounter came in the tenth leg though, as Van Barneveld missed double five for a 130 finish to break the throw, with Van Gerwen responding with a crucial 150 checkout tore-establish a four leg cushion.
Van Gerwen completed the 10-5 win, averaging 104.87 and will face Gerwyn Price in the semi-finals.
"I'm not playing perfectly but I am getting closer, I want to win this tournament," said Van Gerwen.
“Gerwyn made the final of the UK Open this year and deserves to be here. My experience will make a difference but he is a good player and I will have to play well."
World Series debutant Price overcame James Wade in a last leg decider in their quarter-final, with the left-hander falling to defeat despite missing double 12 for a nine-dart finish during the match.
Wade made a good start, breaking in the opening leg before going on to miss the final dart of a perfect leg in leg four - which would have been the first nine-darter in the unique outdoor setting in Dubai.
The match then went with throw until the tenth leg where Price broke on double 12 with a 14-darter to level the score at 5-5.
The Welshman then moved in to the lead of the first time in the next leg taking out 56 on tops.
Wade regained control again breaking in the 13th leg and looked set to take the victory when he moved 9-7 up, before Price levelled again to take the match to a deciding leg.
Price sealed the victory on double six to condemn Wade to his fourth consecutive first round defeat in Dubai.
“I think I’ve worked hard this year and have earned my place." said Price. "I was over-thinking things at the start of the match so had to keep my cool and realise it was just one break.
“I knew I had the game in me to win and I’ve proved that again tonight."
The Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters will conclude on Thursday with the semi-finals and final (8pm local time), as the first World Series of Darts champion of 2017 is discovered.
2017 Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters
Wednesday May 24
Gerwyn Price 10-9 James Wade
Peter Wright 10-5 Dave Chisnall
Gary Anderson 10-3 Phil Taylor
Michael van Gerwen 10-5 Raymond van Barneveld
Best of 19 legs
Thursday May 25 (8pm)
Michael van Gerwen v Gerwyn Price
Gary Anderson v Peter Wright
Best of 21 legs
Van Gerwen/Price v Anderson/Wright
Best of 21 legs