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World Darts Championship: Greatest comebacks ever including Phil Taylor & Adrian Lewis

We recall some of the biggest tungsten comebacks in World Darts Championship history after Rob Cross staged a miraculous fightback to see off Chris Dobey in the last eight of the PDC's 2024 showpiece.

The 2018 world champion appeared to be heading for the exit at Alexandra Palace when he trailed Dobey 4-0, but he roared back to win the final five sets and advance to a semi-final against Luke Littler.

Cross is the first player to overturn a 4-0 deficit in a World Championship quarter-final and we have been looking back at some of the other great comebacks in the history of the tournament.
 

Phil Taylor v Kevin Painter - 2004

Phil Taylor's indomitable winning mentality earned him 16 world titles, two in the BDO and 14 in the PDC, but he was pushed to the limit by Kevin Painter in the 2004 final.

Taylor, runner-up to John Part at the 2003 World Championship, appeared to be stumbling at the final hurdle again as Painter opened up a 4-1 lead at the Circus Tavern.

The Power won five of the next seven sets to take their showdown to a deciding set. Painter started the 13th set strongly but Taylor again dug deep, eventually sealing a nerve-wracking 7-6 victory and an 11th world title.
 

Raymond van Barneveld v Colin Lloyd - 2007

The 2007 World Championship was the last one held at the Circus Tavern and Raymond van Barneveld did his bit to give the legendary venue a fitting send-off.

The Dutchman, a four-time BDO world champion, was making his first appearance at the PDC event and he survived an almighty scare against the in-form Colin Lloyd in the second round.

Lloyd, the top seed in the tournament, raced into a 3-0 lead in their best-of-seven-sets contest, but Barney responded brilliantly, nailing some crucial doubles to pull it back to 3-3.

That fightback seemed to rattle Lloyd, who missed four match darts in the deciding set before Van Barneveld triumphed in the last leg.

He went on to win a memorable final against Taylor, coming from 3-0 down to win 7-6 thanks to an exhilarating display of darts. 

A stunning 170 checkout sparked the Dutchman's recovery from three sets down and he hit a record-breaking 21 180s on his way to glory.
 

Wayne Mardle v Phil Taylor - 2008

Beating Taylor was never easy and Wayne Mardle made it even harder for himself in a gripping quarter-final at the 2008 World Championship.

Mardle, now a popular Sky Sports commentator, trailed Taylor 3-0 before rallying in front of an appreciative Ally Pally crowd.

The Power had reached the final in all 14 PDC World Championships up to that point, but Mardle ended the sequence in spectacular fashion, hitting double 18 to win the final set by six legs to four.

The underdog broke down in tears of joy after completing his comeback victory, but there was no fairytale ending for Mardle in 2008 as he lost to 21-year-old qualifier Kirk Shepherd in the semi-finals.
 

Adrian Lewis v James Wade - 2012

Adrian Lewis hit a nine-darter on his way to victory in the 2011 World Championship final against Gary Anderson and the Stoke-on-Trent ace retained his title the following year with a comfortable 7-3 victory over Andy Hamilton.

The 2012 semi-final against James Wade was anything but comfortable for Lewis, however, as he had to overcome an inspired opponent, a hostile crowd and a rogue breeze in the arena.

The gusty conditions forced a 20-minute break in play when Wade was leading 2-0. Lewis pulled it back to 2-1 after the resumption, but Wade won the next three sets to take him to the brink of the final.

However, Lewis kept up the pressure on the frontrunner and, after clinching a 6-5 win with a 161 checkout, he declared: "It was definitely the greatest match of my life.

"I was 5-1 down, the crowd was on my back and there was a massive breeze coming through. But I came back strong and showed why I'm world champion."
 

Raymond van Barneveld v Michael Smith - 2016

Comeback king Van Barneveld was at it again in 2016 after winning a high-class Dutch derby against title favourite Michael van Gerwen in the third round at Ally Pally.

That set up a quarter-final against Michael Smith, another of the sport's young guns, and the St Helens man stormed into a 3-0 lead.

Barney had won just one leg in the second and third sets of the match, but he swiftly got his game together, winning the next four sets to lead 4-3.

Smith then rallied, claiming the eighth set and taking a 2-0 lead in the decider.

However, his experienced opponent's clinical finishing helped him launch one final and decisive comeback, winning the last four legs to seal a dramatic triumph. 
 

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