Phil Taylor claimed an incredible 12th world title after beating gutsy Mark Dudbridge 7-4 in a thrilling Ladbrokes World Championship final in Purfleet.
Phil Taylor did not have it all his own way at the Circus Tavern
Taylor had to come from behind as Dudbridge, competing in his first world final, came out of the blocks firing to secure an early 2-1 lead.
But Taylor, who struggled with his finishing early on, won five of the next six sets for a 6-3 advantage.
Dudbridge dug in to win the next but Taylor held his nerve to seal the win.
"It was so hard, I knew that Mark was never going to give up," said Taylor.
"This has been the hardest title I have won and Mark is the hardest finalist, this is the guy for the future. I am over the moon to win it again."
Although Taylor was not in top form during the opening set, he went 1-0 ahead after winning the final leg against the throw.
But the Circus Tavern came alive in the next when Dudbridge took advantage of Taylor's poor doubles finishing, which at one point had dipped to just 23%, to draw level with a 121 checkout.
Impressive finishing from Dudbridge saw him take a 2-1 lead but Taylor levelled the scores in what was fast becoming a ding-dong battle.
And with his three-dart average at 98 and his double success rising to 36%, Taylor comfortably rattled off the next three legs to take a 3-2 lead.
Dudbridge had to stop the rot and went two legs ahead in the sixth set and although Taylor took it to a deciding leg, the 31-year-old from Bristol continued to pile on the pressure by making the score 3-3.
Taylor though responded superbly and took a 5-3 lead after winning six of the next eight legs.
Two 11-dart legs in the ninth set put the 44-year-old on the brink of victory and although Dudbridge battled back to make the score 6-4, Taylor sealed a memorable triumph by taking the next with a 101 checkout.
And despite being emotionally crushed by the defeat, Dudbridge was philosophical afterwards.
"I tried my hardest with every dart," he said.
"It wasn't a fluent performance from me but I tried my heart out. Neither of us was at our best but it was a hell of a battle. I was beaten by the best player on the planet."