Daily Archives: 26 October, 2011

Cuatro y Medio: wins for Irujo and Xala make dream semi-final line up complete

Sunday 23rd October, Eibar


Juan Martinez de Irujo admitted himself that he had no idea how he beat Oinatz Bengoetxea on Sunday. Bengoetxea was up 12-5 and had the defending champion well and truly on the ropes and ‘out of options’. Even having let his opponent back into the game at 12-10, Bengoetxea marched on with ease, playing with pace and verve, to 16-11. Having once again opened a telling gap, it seemed as if Irujo was dead in the water. However, Irujo is the king of the improbable comeback, as he showed in the final last year when Barriola opened up a sizeable gap upon him but went on to lose. Playing with his chosen balls he made his serve count, using it to win six points outright. He moved ahead for the first time in the game at 17-16 and by this time, Bengoetxea was a different opponent, demoralised and unable to break the relentless streak of his rival.

Scoring sequence: 0-3, 6-3, 6-4, 7-4, 7-5, 12-5, 12-10, 13-10, 13-11, 16-11, 16-17, 17-17, 17-22.

Bengoetxea VI: winners (8) errors (7) service winners (2) service errors (0), 4 ½ line faults (0)

Martinez de Irujo: winners (9) errors (5) service winners (6) service errors (1), 4 ½ line faults (1)

Match time: 42:56, with 9:46 of actual play

Botilleros: Asier García with Bengoetxea VI and Patxi Eugi with Irujo

Irujo came from behind to qualify

Irujo came from behind to qualify

Sunday 23rd October, Longroño

XALA beat TITIN III 22-17

Titin had home advantage for this quarter final tie and the Riojan fans did everything they could to lift their hero. Well aware of the fact that this may be his last chance for Cuatro y Medio glory, his retirement possibly encroaching, the home favourite went at Xala hammer and tongs and put him seriously on the back foot. Falling to a 0-6 deficit, Xala appeared nervous and the crowds sensed blood. The Manomanista champion picked up points in ones and twos, moving from 1-7 to 5-7 and 6-10, but from 7-11 he found his feet in style, picking up seven points in a row to lead 14-11 and undo all of Titin’s early supremacy. Titin scrapped to stay in touch, but in reality no longer looked like a winner, his demeanour radically altered. Xala moved serenely towards the last four, wasting little time in closing the deal after establishing a five point lead at 20-15.

With Xala’s victory, the semi-final line up is complete and is in the eyes of most the dream quartet. Martinez de Irujo and Olaizola II kick off proceedings in Bilbao on Saturday, before Xala and Barriola meet on Sunday in Eibar in an effort to deal the opening blows of the elite round-robin stage.

Scoring sequence: 0-6, 1-6, 1-7, 5-7, 5-9, 6-10, 7-11, 14-11, 14-13, 16-13, 16-15, 20-15, 20-16, 21-16, 21-17, 22-17.

Xala: winners (9) errors (8) service winners (1) service errors (0) 4 ½ line faults (0)

Titin III: winners (8) errors (10) service winners (2) service errors (0) 4 ½ line faults (1)

Match time: 75:00

Balls hit: 391

Botilleros: Aitor Zubieta with Xala and Joaquín Plaza with Titín


Xala saw off the threat of Titin

Xala saw off the threat of Titin

The semi-final line up is also now complete in the Promocion Championship. On Friday in Beasain Mendizabal III thrashed Rico IV 22-6, In Pamplona on Saturday Ongay beat Tainta 22-16, in Logroño on Sunday Albisu triumphed 22-15 over Apezetxea while Lemuno beat Olazabal 22-12 in Eibar. The first semi-final is on Saturday in Balmaseda where Lemuno takes on Albisu. On Tuesday, Mendizabal III plays Ongay in Eibar.

Images from: Noticias de Navarra and Argia. Source: Diario Vasco

Cuatro y Medio: Aimar confounds Gonzalez to make the last four

Saturday 22nd October, Pamplona


Aimar Olaizola, in beating Sebastien Gonzalez on Saturday, became the second player to book his place in the semi-final league of the Cuatro y Medio, regaining his position in the elite four after his shock exit to Retegi Bi in 2009 and injury induced absence in 2010. The four time champion therefore keeps alive the hope of a fifth title, which would take him past Julien Retegi as the greatest Cuatro y Medio player in history.

Aimar had won his previous two Cuatro y Medio meetings with Gonzalez, beating him 22-14 in 2004 and 22-8 in 2006, but here the loser did rather better, racking up 15 points and giving his stellar opponent an early scare. Gonzalez went ahead 4-0 and tensions flared when a dubious call went to way of Aimar to reduce his deficit to 1-4. These two players are well documented as not being the best of friends, and there was no love lost on the fronton as Gonzalez complained bitterly and threw everything he had at the man from Goizueta. He once again extended his lead to 7-2, but gradually, bit by bit, Aimar came back at him, eating into both his lead and his morale. He gained ascendency for the first time at 11-10 and never let Gonzalez close to within fewer than two points. Both players blew hot and cold, errors symptomatic of the tension of the situation and the high stakes that existed. Aimar is not quite in the stunning form which he carried through the summer, but having reached the last four, he will strike for glory once again with his customary coolness and cast iron determination.

Scoring sequence: 0-4, 2-4, 2-7, 7-7, 7-9, 11-9, 11-10, 14-10, 14-11, 16-11, 16-14, 18-14, 18-15, 22-15.

Olaizola II: winners (10) errors (7) service winners (5) service faults (0) 4 ½ line faults (0)

Gonzalez: winners (7) errors (6) service winners (1) service faults (0) 4 ½ line faults (1)

Match time: 50:31

Balls hit: 250

Botilleros: Asier Olaizola with his brother Aimar  and Ramuntxo Mujika with Gonzalez

Aimar takes his place in the elite four

Aimar takes his place in the elite four

Image from Diario de Navarra, Source: Diario Vasco