Asier Olaizola thwarts Idoate with pace and experience

Friday 12th October, Lekunberri


Cuatro y Medio round one

The feature match at Lekunberri on Friday had the potential to be an extremely interesting one, throwing an experienced campaigner into the mix against a young talent trying to cement his place in the top tier. Mikel Idoate, 23, had fought with great aplomb through two qualifying rounds to reach this stage and given Asier Olaizola’s lack of anything resembling stunning recent form, it was tempting to make the young pretender favourite. However, Olaizola, now 37 years old, began with dominance and let his experience show, never allowing Idoate into the game.

Idoate was entirely to blame for the manner in which he ended up on the back foot at the outset, hitting wide twice and then low. Three Olaizola service winners and a winner to the wide court later later and it was 7-0 to the Goizuetan. Idoate’s head fell and the road back seemed extremely long. He was handed his first four points thanks to Olaizola’s first four errors, but failed to capitalise. At 4-10, he was still hanging onto the coat tails of the match but at 4-16 it was, to all intents and purposes, game over. Idoate had shown such fight in coming back against Aritz Lasa the previous Sunday but try as he might, this time nothing worked. Olaizola’s calm point building created pressure enough for him to err on several occasions but many errors were avoidable, such as the sequence from 17-5 to 21-5 in which he killed any hope of a miraculous return by repeatedly failing to strike the ball with any of his usual cleanliness. Idoate showed some form only when it was far too late, producing three winners in a row to close from 5-21 to 8-21, but an authoritative cross court winner provided the final nail in Idoate’s coffin.

This was a consummate performance from Asier Olaizola, the like of which we have not seen in some time. His pace and rhythm were simply too much for Idoate, who looked jaded and out of sorts. Olaizola proceeds to round two, where he has a habit of falling in this championship, to face Pablo Berasaluze. Logically Berasaluze must start the more fancied, his vim and vigour having served him well against formidable opposition in recent weeks, but if Asier can rediscover his form of Friday, an upset is certainly far from impossible.

Scoring sequence: 7-0, 7-1, 8-1, 8-2, 10-2, 10-4, 16-4, 16-5, 21-5, 21-8, 22-8
Winners/errors: Olaizola 12/6, Idoate 2/10
Balls hit: 232
Match time: 35:46

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