Saturday 5th November, Pamplona
OLAIZOLA II beat XALA 22-10
Aimar Olaizola scored a resounding win over Yves Salaberry on Saturday, displaying in the latter part of the game the stunning level which he carried throughout the summer. He had struggled of late to maintain this form, but on the basis of his second semi-final match his remaining Cuatro y Medio opponents have much to fear. The first half of the match was extremely tight and the pelotaris could not be separated, coming together at 2-2, 6-6 and 7-7. Xala showed significantly more aggression than in his loss to Barriola the previous week, realising that with his future championship participation on the line, there was nothing for it but to take the game to Aimar. He went on the offensive with the volley and the gantxo to deaden his rival’s attack. He took the early initiative in many rallies and although Aimar kept pace, he often looked ill at ease.
However, from 9-8, the four time champion accelerated, winning six points in a row. He increased the pace of the game, making his physicality count, and Xala visibly flagged. He took possession of the court, controlling the space and produced a classic repertoire of shots. Especially stunning was his cross court play, as he whipped the ball from left to right with as much class and venom as at any time this year. He also used the volley regularly to force the pace and Xala had few answers, though he never ceased to fight. The stalling Manomanista champion managed only two more points, forced to surrender to the Cuatro y Medio mastery of the man he defeated in that final in July. Olaizola will now play Barriola for a place in the final against Juan Martinez de Irujo, and this weekend he will assuredly be the favourite.
Scoring sequence: 0-1, 2-1, 2-2, 4-2, 4-6, 6-6, 6-7, 7-7, 7-9, 8-9, 8-17, 9-17, 9-19, 10-19, 10-22
Xala: winners (4) errors (3) service winners (0) service errors (0) 4 ½ line errors (0)
Olaizola II: winners (13) errors (5) service winners (6) service errors (0) 4 ½ line errors (1)
Match time: 43:44 with 9:13 of actual play
Balls hit: 239
Botilleros: Aitor Zubieta with Xala and Asier Olaizola with Olaizola II
Source: Diario Vasco, image from Noticias de Gipuzkoa