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Joe Cullen opened the summer tungsten festival, otherwise known as the World Matchplay, by putting in an impressive performance and defeating debutant Mike De Decker 10-7.

The early legs saw De Decker, the in-form Belgian, well and truly on the ropes. He found himself 4-1 down at the first break, just 1 for 6 on his doubles and looking a little like a rabbit in the headlights.

But he looked far more settled in the second session, winning the first two legs, the second featuring a showpiece 164 finish.

The match stood on somewhat of a precipice, with Cullen’s lead gravely endangered.

But he made sure there was not to be a wobble by reeling off the remaining three legs of the session to lead 7-3, averaging just north of 100.

One last stand was imminent for De Decker, who broke twice in three legs in a match of little safety on the throw.

The pair were again only two legs apart at 8-6 Cullen, but he sealed the deal at 10-7 with a Shanghai gone slightly awry, double 10 doing the business.

“He didn’t do anything I didn’t expect, and I did anticipate him to be a bit nervous at the start. I knew I had to capitalise at that point,”

Joe told Darts World after the match:

“I wanted that big cushion for once he did relax, and that’s thankfully what happened.”

He will play Gerwyn Price or Stephen Bunting on Tuesday evening.


Images: Taylor Lanning / PDC


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