Saturday 29th October, Bilbao
MARTINEZ DE IRUJO beat OLAIZOLA II 22-20
This encounter been the old foes Olaizola II and Martinez de Irujo was so hotly anticipated that all 3000 seats in Bilbao’s Bizkaia fronton sold out, producing an atmosphere more usually found at a final. The mind games had already begun before the pair took to the field of battle, when Aimar objected vehemently to Irujo’s choice of balls. His selections stood, and his rival accepted his situation, but the venom overflowed into their style of play, which was faster and more furious than anything seen in the competition so far.
Aimar took the game to defending champion Irujo and held the upper hand for most of the first half of the match, going ahead 3-0, 7-1, 9-2 and 11-6. Irujo, who had been caught napping at the off, sprung into a certain kind of life with third point which he was convinced was too long. The judges let it stand, despite Irujo’s furious protestations and his anger counted against him, as a calmly brutal Aimar played the crosscourt game to perfection. Finding himself on the receiving end of an enormous salvo, Irujo was called to the chair by his botillero Patxi Eugi. Something his confidant uttered helped to turn the tide, for the player who emerged after the break was altogether different. He gradually pulled the deficit back and with five points in a row took the lead at 15-13. Aimar, by nature a grand competitor, would not let him escape and came past again to a 16-15 lead, This he extended to 20-18 after a period of tense stalemate, and it seemed as if the game was his. However, Irujo unleashed one last furious torrent and took four points in a row to take the tie. When Aimar failed to return the last ball, he released all his tension and pent up fury as he pumped the air with immense force. Aimar left the fronton without a moment’s delay.
Few people come from behind to beat Aimar Olaizola, least of all in Cuatro y Medio, a discipline where he has been champion on four occasions. The fact that Irujo won in this manner sends a warning shot to the other semi finalists who must now wonder how his insatiable will to win can be quelled. Irujo now sits in the driving seat in the league, but Aimar has more chances and the fact that his loss was so narrow may yet come to his aid as the finalists are decided.
Scoring sequence: 3-0, 3-1, 7-1, 7-2, 9-2, 9-6, 11-6, 11-10, 13-10, 13-15, 16-15, 16-17, 17-17, 17-18, 20-18, 20-22.
Olaizola II: winners (7) errors (9) service winners (4) service errors (1) 4 ½ line errors (0)
Martinez de Irujo: winners (9) errors (8) service winners (3) service errors (0) 4 ½ line errors (1)
Match time: 54 minutes
Balls hit: 277
Botilleros: Asier Olaizola with his brother Aimar and Patxi Eugi with Irujo
There was one match in the Promocion Championship this weekend and it saw an easy win for Lemuno over a highly out of sorts Albisu, by 22 points to 12. It could have been far worse for Albisu, but a late rally ensured some respectability. The second semi final of the rotation takes place tomorrow and pits Mendizabal III against Ongay.