Sacrifices paying off for Cullen at BoyleSports World Grand Prix

Joe Cullen (Simon O'Connor/PDC)

Joe Cullen believes his sacrifices are starting to pay dividends, as he prepares to take on Luke Humphries in Saturday’s BoyleSports World Grand Prix semi-finals.

Cullen has performed superbly in Leicester to progress to a maiden double-start semi-final, overcoming Mike De Decker, Ross Smith and Chris Dobey in his run to the last four.

The 34-year-old ran out a convincing winner against debutant De Decker, before landing eight 180s to defeat European Champion Smith in a high-quality last 16 encounter.

Cullen then fought back from 2-1 down to defeat Dobey in a battle of the Masters champions on Friday, conjuring up a sensational 121 checkout on the bull to seal his place in the semi-finals.

“That 121 finish was Jonny Clayton-esque! The only thing I forget was the finger point, because I was too busy jumping about,” joked Cullen post-match.

“I found the big shots - especially the 121 - at the right time, and to do it under that pressure, I’m actually proud of myself.

“I could feel the game slipping away a little bit, but to win it like that was really pleasing, as you could probably tell from my celebration!”

Despite his low-key start to 2023, Cullen has been one of the sport’s form players over recent months, after also reaching July’s World Matchplay semi-finals.

The Yorkshireman defeated Gerwyn Price during that run at the Winter Gardens, and the pair could potentially lock horns in Sunday’s World Grand Prix showpiece at the Morningside Arena.

“I am putting the work in; I’m making a lot of sacrifices,” insisted Cullen, who is setting his sights on a place in his maiden televised ranking final.

“I’m in the top ten of the world now, and it’s been a long time coming. I’m doing well here, and I did well in Blackpool, so the hard work is paying off at the minute.

“This is what it’s all about. Obviously I made the Premier League final last year, but it would be even more pleasing to do it [reach a final] in a ranking event.”

Cullen faces a mouth-watering showdown against Humphries on Saturday evening, after the sixth seed fought back from 2-0 down to stun 2018 runner-up Peter Wright in the quarter-finals.

Humphries – also a semi-finalist at the World Matchplay – has made significant strides over the last 18 months, as he continues his bid for a maiden senior televised crown.

“It should be a great game between me and Luke. It’s an exciting prospect and I’m really looking forward to it,” continued Cullen, who boasts the highest tournament average of the four semi-finalists.

“Luke is a great lad. He dug in against Peter and showed his fighting qualities, so I will have to perform, but this double-start [format] is a massive leveller.

“Whether it be Luke, [Michael] van Gerwen or Gerwyn Price, it doesn’t matter. In this format, if you can’t get away, you can’t score. It really is as simple as that.

“I feel so focused this week. I think this [fightback against Dobey] will stand me in good stead, and I will take that confidence into the game against Luke.”

2023 BoyleSports World Grand Prix
Saturday October 7 (2000 BST)

Michael Smith v Gerwyn Price
Joe Cullen v Luke Humphries
Best of 7 Sets