Power handed tough draw

Phil Taylor has been installed as the 5/4 outright favourite to win the Grand Slam of Darts, which starts on Saturday, but ‘The Power’ will have to negotiate a tough group first.

The Stoke legend, who beat Adrian Lewis (9/1) in the first-ever Coral Masters over the weekend, will take on Kevin Painter (100/1) and Paul Nicholson (80/1) in Group A, while rising star Stuart Kellett (200/1), one of four Wildcard Qualifiers, is also in that quartet.

Taylor, who has won the Grand Slam of Darts four times, was not at his brilliant best early in the year but appears to have rediscovered his touch in recent months.

The 53-year-old had too much for the experienced James Wade in the Masters semi-final and then convincingly saw off Lewis in the final to warm up nicely for the upcoming Wolverhampton event.

Elsewhere, in the draw for the Grand Slam tournament, defending champion Raymond van Barneveld is in Group E alongside Mervyn King (80/1) and Tony O’Shea (125/1), while World Youth Championship finalist Ricky Evans (200/1) is also in that group.

The current Premier League champion and second-favourite for the title, Michael van Gerwen (4/1), is in Group D, and will take on Belgian Kim Huybrechts (33/1), Dean Winstanley (150/1) and fellow Dutchman Vincent van der Voort (150/1).

European Champion Lewis is in Group C with former Lakeside Champion Christian Kist (100/1), Belgium’s Ronny Huybrechts (150/1) and up-and-coming Richie George (500/1).

Scott Waites, who won the competition three years ago, is in Group H with World Grand Prix finalist and lively outsider for the crown Dave Chisnall (18/1), World Youth Champion Michael Smith (150/1) and dual Lakeside Champion Ted Hankey (250/1).

The top two from the groups after the first four days’ play at the Civic Hall will prevail to the knockout stage and into the last 16 onwards, before the semi-finals and final, which is set for Sunday 17th November.

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