Saturday 9th June, Pamplona
OLAIZOLA II beat BENGOETXEA VI 22-5
There was an accepted view that this semi-final would be close. Oinatz Bengoetxea claimed to be in perfect condition, and while his form has not scintillated this year, his opponent was in a questionable physical state. Had Aimar Olaizola, fabulous all year and for all of last year too, not been fighting an injury to his right arm, his favouritism would have been far more marked but as it was, this was viewed as an opportunity for Oinatz to get to a major final again, a chance to emulate his championship winning performance of 2008. However, despite his making him ‘instinctively pull back’ every time he went to hit the ball with his right hand, Aimar was utterly brutal and left Oinatz in tatters and fighting for scraps, few of which he could pick up. The star from Goizueta confessed his shock in winning so easily, and if his physical state holds ahead of the final at Bizkaia on 24th June, Juan Martinez de Irujo may begin to suffer sleepless nights.
Aimar rocketed into his stride from the very first strike; it took him a mere twelve minutes to establish an 8-0 lead. He relinquished the serve with a falta thereafter but Bengoetxea was unable to capitalise on the chance he was given and Olaizola powered on to 17-1, an unprecedented level of dominance against a former Manomanista champion. In 36 minutes and only 145 balls, he wrapped up the game 22-5, with ten winners, five service winners and only two errors. Bengoetxea could only muster two winners plus one service winner, and committed six errors. Aimar’s determination and efficiency were breathtaking. He showed no mercy whatsoever in his domination, showing off the full range of his shot play and carving balls with his left as maybe only he can do. Tickets for the final, another classic between Aimar and Irujo, go on sale tomorrow and are expected to sell out in the blink of an eye. It could be a match for the ages.