Dimitri Van den Bergh believes his growing maturity has been the catalyst for his strong start to this year’s Cazoo Premier League, as he targets Night Seven glory in Nottingham on Thursday.
Van den Bergh is making his second appearance in the sport’s biggest roadshow, having finished fifth on debut in 2021, despite boasting the highest tournament average within the eight-player field.
The Belgian also heads to the Motorpoint Arena in fifth position ahead of his quarter-final clash against Nathan Aspinall, and he insists he’s relishing his latest taste of the sport’s elite competition.
“The Premier League is incredible. It’s a challenge, but it’s a positive one,” said Van den Bergh, who also competed as a contender in the 2019 showpiece.
“You are always playing against the best of the best. I’m trying to make the most of this opportunity and I’m enjoying every moment.
“I have worked very hard on myself, especially mentally, because in this sport, you need to have a strong mental game.
“I have that. I possess that now, and I’m only gaining experience. I’m in a good head space and every time I play, there are positives I can take.”
Van den Bergh’s best performance of the season saw him star in Glasgow’s Night Three final, where he succumbed to a 109 average from World Champion Michael Smith in a high-quality affair.
However, the 28-year-old has only registered a solitary victory since then, and he produced a below-par display in a 6-3 reverse to Smith in Liverpool last week.
“I was feeling very confident,” admitted the former World Matchplay champion.
“When you go on that stage you want to perform, but I think last week was one of my weakest games in this Premier League.
“I’d had a gruelling week behind me at the UK Open and the Premier League in Exeter, but the only thing I can do is bounce back stronger, because I know I’m playing really well.”
Van den Bergh’s quarter-final tussle against Aspinall could have major repercussions at the top end of the table, with the Stockport star currently boasting a four-point lead over the Belgian in third spot.
However, Van den Bergh ran out a comprehensive 6-1 winner when the pair last met in Glasgow, averaging over 105 in the process.
The two-time World Youth Champion will be hoping for a repeat performance in Nottingham, as he vows to embrace the pressure in his bid for Play-Off qualification.
“I am one of those players that believes it is all about how you bounce back,” added Van den Bergh, a semi-finalist at the UK Open earlier this month.
“Whatever is put in front of you, you have to learn how to overcome this challenge and when you do, you know you’re going to be a stronger player.
“There are still moments when you know you’re going to be under pressure, but when I get nervous now, I just smile.
“I learnt that from Dirk van Duijvenbode. He told me: ‘I’ve been told when you’re nervous, have a smile and that’s going to take a lot of tension off your body.’
“That is what I am doing. I just learning from other people. It’s about going up there and giving it my best, that’s all you can do.”
2023 Cazoo Premier League
Night Seven - Thursday March 16
Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Nathan Aspinall
Jonny Clayton v Gerwyn Price
Peter Wright v Michael van Gerwen
Chris Dobey v Michael Smith
Van den Bergh/Aspinall v Clayton/Price
Wright/Van Gerwen v Dobey/Smith
All matches the best of 11 legs