Monday 18th January, Mungia
OLAIZOLA II – MENDIZABAL II beat XALA – ZUBIETA 22-18
Pairs Championship Quarter Finals
Both pairs who lined up for Monday’s match in Mungia were in desperate need of a point, having lost their first matches in the previous week, and were obviously prepared to fight until the death. This titanic match lasted only six minutes shy of two hours and involved 1112 strikes of the ball. For the losers, Yves Sallaberry and Aitor Zubieta, this does not spell the end for it is still early days in this competition, but the psychological blow may very well tell.
The game lacked pure brilliance from any party but it made up for this shortcoming with raw excitement and the drama of human battle. Xala and Zubieta made it their tactic to test Mendizabal’s mettle, showering him with long balls. He was bailed out by Olaizola who played a tactially astute game, doing his utmost to shoulder as much of his partner’s work as he could. Zubieta played an excellent role in the Aspe gameplan and gave so much that he fell to cramp with the score at 19-18. Aimar and Oier kept their noses in front for the whole match, aided by an excellent start which saw them take a six point lead on two occasions, but the match was a struggle from beginning to end and they never had it all their own way. Such a marathon must have left a physical toll on the victorious pair, but they survived the test and their morale will be sky high when they face favourites Irujo and Beroiz this weekend.
Scoring sequence: 4-0, 4-2, 8-2, 8-3, 9-3, 9-4, 10-4, 10-9, 12-9, 12-10, 14-10, 14-11, 17-11, 17-16, 19-16, 19-18 and 22-18