TAYLOR STUNNED BY DOLAN AS HUYBRECHTS SHOCKS BARNEY IN GERMANY
PHIL TAYLOR'S reign as PartyPoker.net European Champion was ended on Sunday afternoon as he slumped to a 10-6 defeat to Brendan Dolan in Germany, as Kim Huybrechts knocked Raymond van Barneveld out of the event with the performance of his life.
Taylor has won all four previous European Championship titles and had been the favourite to take the 50,000 pound rize in Muelheim this weekend.
However, after producing below-par displays in wins over Magnus Caris and Jerry Hendriks the 15-time World Champion averaged only 89.88 as he went down 10-6 to Northern Ireland's Dolan.
"I've got no excuses, Brendan was the better player and deserved to win," said Taylor. "My form wasn't good enough in my first two games as well as the quarter-final, but my preparation wasn't good enough.
"I'm not happy with my form at all and I've got to up my game for the World Grand Prix in a couple of weeks."
The win was Dolan's first in 14 attempts against Taylor, but last year's World Grand Prix runner-up is now targeting his first major title on Sunday night, starting with his semi-final against room-mate Wes Newton.
"I've never beaten Phil before and it's obviously brilliant to beat him," said Dolan. "It's been a dream of mine and I've fulfilled that now, but I want to go on now and win this.
"That wasn't Phil at his best but I grasped every opportunity he gave me."
Newton, the 2011 UK Open finalist, won through to the last four with a a hard-fought 10-7 defeat of Andy Hamilton, sealing victory with a classy 129 checkout.
"It was a battle and I had to dig deep," said Newton. "I found another gear at the right time, and got over the finishing line.
"I found the pace hard but it's something that I've got to deal with.That's Andy's rhythm and he wasn't deliberately trying to slow me down, and you have to be adaptable. Back in the 1990s, Phil Taylor had to do that with Dennis Priestley when they had their great rivalry, and it's something I have to do because I'm so keen when I get up on stage to play at pace. the last two games have been a battle for me but I'm beating good players and hopefully I can take the next step tonight and go and win this."
Emerging Belgian Kim Huybrechts, meanwhile, produced a sensational performance to defeat five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld 10-8.
Huybrechts had found himself 6-4 down, but landed seven 180s and two 177s in the match as he reached his first major televised semi-final.
"I can't believe it," admitted Huybrechts, who will move into the PDC's top 32 following the tournament. "Raymond is an icon and one of the best players in the world, so to beat him in the European Championship quarter-finals is just amazing for me.
"I've just beaten a big name and I've got another big name in the semi-finals, but I'll be very confident and I know I can beat anyone after this win."
Australian Simon Whitlock completed the quarter-final line-up with his 10-7 win over Colin Lloyd, who hit a 164 finish but paid the price for a key miss when he had the chance to level in the 16th leg.
Whitlock pounced on double top to move 9-7 up and hit the same bed to seal the victory and set up a semi-final with Huybrechts.
"I could have made it easier for myself, but Colin hung in there and took out some great shots," said Whitlock, whose win ensured a semi-final line-up of four players who have yet to win a major title.
"I'm feeling fantastic - I've come off a great weekend in Barnsley where I reached a quarter-final and then won a Players Championship and I feel really good. Confidence is a massive thing in darts and I'm full of confidence at the moment."