Joe Cullen secured his second European Tour title at the 2020 International Darts Open in Riesa with an 8-5 victory…
Joe Cullen secured his second European Tour title at the 2020 International Darts Open in Riesa with an 8-5 victory over Michael van Gerwen in the final.
Cullen, who defeated Van Gerwen 8-5 in the final to claim European Matchplay glory last September, repeated the feat against the world number one to land the £25,000 top prize.
A memorable triumph for the Bradford ace saw him average 97 in the final with four 180s and 57 per cent on the doubles to resign MVG to the runner-up spot for the second successive weekend.
The victory sees Cullen claim a Grand Slam spot for the first time as well as regain a place in the world’s top 16 and head into next week’s European Championship as the number one seed.
“Luckily for me, Michael just didn’t get going,” said Cullen.
“I didn’t think I was too great either but I won and surely I must be in the Grand Slam now?!
“I don’t think I’ve come close to losing [this weekend] but I’ve done enough in every game and I’ve won the title – get in!”
Van Gerwen took the opening leg of the final with a 116 checkout before Cullen replied with a 14-darter to draw level.
The next two legs were shared before Cullen landed double eight for a break of throw and a 3-2 lead, consolidating it with a 13-darter on double 16 in leg six.
Van Gerwen remained in touch at 5-4 behind, but Cullen continued his efficient finishing to go two clear again.
A 62 checkout kept Van Gerwen in touch, but a crucial last dart at double seven moved Cullen to the cusp of victory – which he sealed in the following leg with a 14-darter on tops.
Cullen began the final day with a 6-1 rout of a below-par Dave Chisnall, before overcoming a resurgent Ross Smith 6-4 with a 99 average.
He then swept aside Michael Smith 7-3 in the Semi-Finals with a 96 average and seven from nine on the doubles.
Van Gerwen, who was beaten by Jose de Sousa in last weekend’s European Grand Prix final, had to settle for second prize once again, making it the first year he has not won a European Tour title since 2012.
The Dutchman produced a mixed bag of performances through the final day in Riesa, firstly averaging 88 and surviving one match dart to edge out Andy Hamilton 6-5 in the Last 16.
He then ended a run of 12 games without a ton-plus average by averaging 102.2 in a 6-3 win over James Wade, before falling over the line 7-6 against Mensur Suljovic in the Semi-Finals. with an average of just 89.
Cullen goes into next Thursday’s European Championship in Oberhausen as the number one seed, while four-time champion Van Gerwen is the number five seed.
International Darts Open 2020 Results
Sunday October 25
Michael van Gerwen 6-5 Andy Hamilton
James Wade 6-2 Nathan Aspinall
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-5 Franz Rötzsch
Mensur Suljovic 6-2 Jamie Hughes
Ross Smith 6-4 Max Hopp
Dave Chisnall 1-6 Joe Cullen
Jesus Noguera 1-6 Michael Smith
Scott Baker 2-6 Danny Noppert
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 James Wade
Krzysztof Ratajski 5-6 Mensur Suljovic
Ross Smith 4-6 Joe Cullen
Michael Smith 6-1 Danny Noppert
Michael van Gerwen 7-6 Mensur Suljovic
Joe Cullen 7-3 Michael Smith
Joe Cullen 8-5 Michael van Gerwen