Joe Cullen has hailed his new-found resilience after clinching his spot in the Cazoo Premier League Play-Offs with victory over Peter Wright in Newcastle.
Cullen edged out World Champion Wright 6-4 in a winner-takes-all clash at the Utilita Arena to book his place at Finals Night in Berlin on June 13.
The 32-year-old put himself in Play-Off contention courtesy of his Night 15 success in London last week, and he completed the job on Tyneside to cap off an excellent debut campaign.
Cullen produced a clinical display on the outer ring to topple the world number one, converting all six of his attempts at double 16, which included a crucial 105 finish in the penultimate leg.
“Peter is a class player and a class fella as well,” Cullen reflected post-match.
“It was always going to be nip and tuck, it was always going to be edgy. It was a massive, massive game and to come out of it as the victor, I couldn’t ask for much more.
“I don’t think it was the greatest average, but if you can finish like that, you give yourself every chance.
“To finish like that under that amount of pressure, it does the world of good for my confidence.”
Cullen has enjoyed a dream start to 2022, having sealed a place in this year’s Premier League by virtue of his Masters triumph in January – his maiden televised title.
The Yorkshireman had made no secret of his desire to become part of the sport’s biggest roadshow, and he’s now firmly established himself as part of the elite.
He could become the third consecutive debutant to lift the Premier League title, following in the footsteps of Glen Durrant and Jonny Clayton – who he will face in next month’s semi-finals.
Cullen has forged a reputation for being one of the sport’s most naturally gifted stars, but he believes tenacity has been the key to his success over the 16 nights of action.
“I have been waiting for the Premier League for a long, long time," added Cullen, who finished fourth after succumbing to Clayton in the Night 16 semi-finals.
"To get in was amazing, so to qualify is incredible. I am over the moon to be in Berlin.
“I have been a bit edgy over the course of the Premier League, and the night where the most pressure is on, I felt really comfortable. It is strange!
“I seem to have found a way to win. I have shown myself that I have that gritty side as well, which I never knew that I had.
“Until you start doing it in TV tournaments you don’t know that you’ve got it, but to prove I can do it on TV and grind results out when it’s not going your way, it has given me a different perspective on my game.”