Sunday 6th June, Eibar
MARTINEZ DE IRUJO beat PATXI RUIZ 22-6
Manomanista Semi Final
There was little doubt in the mind of anyone that Juan Martinez de Irujo would take this semi final, and take it he did, with brutal authority. The odds were stacked so overwhelmingly in the favour of the defending champion that there were very few bets at all. Patxi Ruiz was afforded a leg up in this championship by Aimar Olaizola’s injury, but a solid victory against Retegi Bi was enough to give him his rightful place in the last four. That win must have given him confidence of a sort, but Irujo is an entirely different proposition, and the man from Ibero looked not only in a different league, but on an entirely different planet on Sunday. It took him all of 31 minutes, and 142 balls to complete his demolition job. In that time, he struck 14 winners and 4 service winners, to only 3 errors. He knew he could afford to cut loose, and that he had ample license to take risks, pushing the ball to the limits of the fronton. Ruiz was blocked out of almost every rally, blinded by pace and outdone by placement. As the spirit of the underdog waned, Irujo showed no mercy.
So, the holder of the txapela proceeds as expected to face Xala on 20th June in Vitoria-Gastez for the 2010 prize. Irujo has three Manomanista crowns to his name thus far, level in the record books with Patxi Eugi and Miguel Gallastegi. Only five pelotaris have more: Ruben Beloki and Atano III (4), Azkarate and Retegi I (6) and the great Retegi II (11). At 28, Irujo has many more years ahead to make his rivals suffer. However, in his way stands Yves Salaberry, and on 2010 form, he will be a towering rival. ‘Xala’ has swept all before him this year, stunning in the Pairs, which he won with Zubieta, and barely challenged in the Manomanista thus far. If each man plays to his potential, this could be a final for the ages.
Scoring sequence: 3-0, 3-2, 8-2, 8-3, 13-3, 13-4, 17-4, 17-6, 22-6.
Source: Diario Vasco
Image from: Kiroljokoa